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Weekend Roundup: That City Sound

Above image: Above image: Kevin Morby performs on Saturday night at the recordBar. | Photo: Adarsha Benjamin

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of sipping an ice cold beer, pushing your feet against the wood chips and taking in some live music underneath the Kansas City stars. You can take advantage of this experience tonight with the first of several free, all-ages Friday shows at CrossroadsKC. The MGDs will get the party going with its frenetic New Orleans-funk flavor, with an opening set from DJ Diehard. Doors open at 6 p.m.  

Just across the street from CrossroadsKC is Josey Records, which will host its own free First Friday jamboree. Besides browsing through its huge catalog of fresh and used vinyl, you’ll be able to take in an evening of live music and art. Maria the Mexican takes the stage around 7 p.m., with a set from Berwanger at 8 p.m. ICYMI yesterday, we premiered Berwanger’s newest video – the intro and title track from “The Star Invaders.”  

If heavy, dirty riffs are what you crave, head over to The Riot Room for a Friday night of in-your-face rock ’n’ roll. The Phillips brothers – who have been busy with their newer projects, Brandon Phillips & the Condition and Other Americans – return to their roots as The Architects and headline the evening, along with support from The Sluts and Company Retreat.  

If you’re looking for a sophisticated spin on classic pop tunes by artists like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Prince, stop by the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts tonight. The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra will perform an evening of off-the-wall pop hits of the ‘80s, with special guest vocalists Eboni Fondren and Jessica Paige. Tickets are available.  

Knuckleheads’ sprawling complex will house its annual MerleJam benefit concert this weekend, with two nights of music on three stages. The concert is named after Merle Zuel, a heart transplant recipient who founded the Kansas City chapter of TRIO – the Transplant Recipients International Organization. Friday night’s show features six country acts, with a headlining set from Jason D. Williams. On Saturday, it'll be six blazing blues acts, with Robert Randolph & the Family Band at the top of the bill. Tickets are available.  

You might celebrate Cinco de Mayo because you think it commemorates Mexico’s independence (it doesn’t), or because you really just want an excuse to down some margaritas (you do). Here’s a quick history lesson: This holiday marks the Mexican army's victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War in 1862. But if you’re genuinely wanting a little exposure to Mexican culture, head down to The Ship tomorrow night. With guest vocalist Fedra Cooper Barrera, Ensemble Ibérica will perform traditional types of Mexican music, including ranchera, bolero and huapango.  

Since Kevin Morby dropped out of Blue Valley Northwest High School and left the KC area to pursue his music career more than a decade ago, he’s made a name for himself. Morby first performed in notable bands like Woods and The Babies, and then launched a solo career that has garnered him acclaim from Pitchfork, NME and NPR Music, to name a few. Touring on his fourth solo album, “City Music,” Morby returns to KC to perform at the recordBar on Saturday with Hand Habits, the songwriting project of Morby’s guitarist Meg Duffy. Tickets are available.  

Now, for something completely different. The good folks at PlaylistPlay and Fine Dining Productions are presenting an evening of electronic pop and hip-hop at The Rino tomorrow. They’re welcoming Los Angeles-based Digisaurus, the project of artist and producer James Allison, who has worked with Weezer, J. Roddy Walston and the Business, among others. The evening will be bookended by two KC-based acts – the experimental electro-groove pop group Y god Y, and R&B/hip-hop collective Nublvckcity, which includes artists like Duncan Burnett, Khrystal. and more.  

Make it a Sunday funday by spending your afternoon strolling around the TowerEast district at 31st Street and Gillham Plaza (which is right in our backyard). More than 15 local businesses are participating, with dozens of local makers, artisans and musicians. Get your live music fix at Maker Village KC, which will host Margo May at 1:30 p.m., plus Fritz Hutchison and Lauren Krum at 4 p.m., or a rare daytime appearance from Emmaline Twist at Holy Cow Market and Music at 3 p.m. —Michelle Bacon


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