When the Majestic Steakhouse in downtown Kansas City shut down in May, Bram Wijnands was forced to look for a new way to spend his Friday and Saturday nights. For the previous 16 years, the Dutch pianist had delivered authentic 1930s KC-style swing and boogie woogie in the cellar which once served as a speakeasy.
Kansas City, MO – Historian Thomas Frank first came to national attention in 2004, when his book What's The Matter With Kansas?, which explores the culture wars in our region, spent 18 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list. Since that time, the political climate of Kansas has shifted a bit: Democrat Kathleen Sebelius was elected governor (and since left for Washington) and Democrats like Raj Goyle of Wichita have made gains in the statehouse.
Kansas City, MO – As the first major wave of troops return from Iraq, the job market is likely to see a new batch of motivated, young job-seekers. KCUR's Alex Smith recently went to a veteran's job fair and spoke with new veterans. But he found the job market is already flooded with a previous generation of vets with plenty of experience and just as eager to find work.
Independence, MO – Monday was the 61st anniversary of Harry Truman signing executive order 9981, which racial integrated the US military. A forum at the Truman Library used the occasion to draw attention to what some say is a similar civil rights battle. KCUR's Alex Smith went to Independence, Missouri to find out more.
John Brewer talks about his double life of firefighter and jazz / electronica musician.
By Alex Smith
Kansas City, MO – The phrase: "Don't Quit Your Day Job" has been used as a put down for decades. If someone sings badly, that's what they're told. And yet, often it's the day job that provides the inspiration, material, or simply a structured schedule for the art.
Lawrence, KS – Soldiers returning from war often find the shift to civilian life to a be difficult one, but the support of fellow veterans as well government programs like the GI Bill can help ease that transition. The federal government has recently passed a major expansion of GI education benefits and it's likely this new expansion will have a big impact on the lives of vets. Alex Smith traveled to Lawrence, Kansas to talk with Daniel Parker who helped push for the new benefits.
Knob Noster, MO – For most public schools, May is the end of the school year and it's a busy time. But in the spring of 2009, many school administrators are also faced with another challenge: a large influx of federal stimulus money and a small window of opportunity to use it. KCUR's Alex Smith recently paid a visit to Knob Noster School District, which is in just that situation.
The Blue Note record label started 70 years ago when German immigrant Alfred Lion was inspired to record some of the boogie-woogie piano music he heard at Carnegie Hall. Today, the label is recognized as one of the finest in jazz. It's classic records, especially those from the 50's and 60's, have a cult following. The American Jazz Museum at 18th and Vine is celebrating Blue Note's anniversary with a series of events.
Blue Springs, MO – There's alot of Kansas Citians among the millions of people flooding Washington, DC for the Presidential Inauguration. And the marching band from Blue Springs High School is among them. They'll represent this area in Tuesday's Inaugural Parade. The Blue Springs Golden Regiment is on their way to DC right now. But before they left, KCUR's Alex Smith paid a visit to an afternoon practice.