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7 Super Things To Do in Kansas City This Weekend

Kevin Dooley

  What does it take to be considered truly super? True believers.

Without fantastic fans, how would talented singers get their chartbusters? Rising comedians their hit shows? World-saving superheroes their blockbuster movies?

It’s no superlative to suggest that this weekend should please devotees of many different pop-culture persuasions, including fans of increasingly pervasive comic book culture, classic rock, stand-up comedy and the most awesome figure of them all – which, surprisingly, doesn’t belong to Wonder Woman. But I wouldn’t tell her that.

1. Planet Comicon

Major comic book conventions have gone well beyond the appreciation of treasured funny books to incorporate virtually all facets of multi-media-driven fantasy. The trend continues at this weekend’s Planet Comicon, the region’s largest annual pop culture and comic book convention.

The array of celebrity guests is led by such notable screen actors as Cary Elwes (“Princess Bride,” “Robin Hood: Men in Tights”), Karen Gillan (“Doctor Who,” “Guardians of the Galaxy”), Stephen Amell (“Arrow”) and Michael Rooker (“The Walking Dead,” “Guardians of the Galaxy”). A special treat will be the chance to meet veteran character actor Scott Wilson, who reached new fans in TV’s post-apocalyptic zombie smash, “The Walking Dead,” but first made his mark in 1967 with the big-screen thrillers “In Cold Blood” and “In the Heat of the Night.”

As always, hosting a horde of accomplished comic creators is part of the plan at Planet Comicon, among them artist Howard Chaykin, who drew the first Star Wars comic book for Marvel Comics in 1977. You might want to seek out a vintage copy in the dealer area. May the autograph be with you. Friday, noon-7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Bartle Hall, 301 W. 13th St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $20-$60, ages 10 and younger free (limit two children per adult admission).

2. Naka-Kon

This yearly fan convention focuses on Japanese animation (anime) and its influences on American culture. Naka-Kon can be enjoyed in more ways than one, whether through attending expert panels, participating in various games and contests or playing in costume (cosplay) as your favorite anime character. Mine? Astro Boy, the heroic robot with a human father, if only because of the mechanical kid’s intriguing identity issues. And if you don’t have a favorite anime character? Well, now you know where to begin your research. Friday, Saturday and Sunday; Overland Park Convention Center, 6000 College Blvd., Overland Park, Kan. Tickets: $20-$30, ages 12 and younger $10.

3. Dave Mason’s Traffic Jam

As a co-founding member of the British band Traffic, Dave Mason joined rock royalty in the 1960s and ’70s. Along the way, he gigged and recorded with such luminary pals as Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson, to name a few. The singer, songwriter and guitarist is still making the musical memories flow on his Dave

Mason’s Traffic Jam tour, featuring such favorite Traffic tunes as “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” “Feelin’ Alright” (also a hit for Joe Cocker) and “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” whose lengthy instrumental jamming helped expand the boundaries of FM rock radio in the early 1970s. Mason also scored with the solo hits “Only You Know and I Know” and “We Just Disagree.” Something we can all agree on is the power of Mason’s musical gift that keeps giving to classic rock fans nearly 50 years on. Friday, 8 p.m.; Voodoo Lounge at Harrah’s Casino, 1 Riverboat Drive, North Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $35-$55.

4. Oak Ridge Boys

“Elvira,” the Oak Ridge Boys’ No. 1 country and pop hit from 1981, will be highly anticipated by fans when the Oaks hit the stage on Saturday at Ameristar Casino. As will a slew of other beloved songs likely to be performed by lead singer Duane Allen, tenor Joe Bonsall, baritone William Lee Golden (whose remarkable white beard deserves its own billing) and bass singer Richard Sterban. Keep an ear out for such ditties as “Ya’ll Come Back Saloon,” “American Made,” “Thank God For Kids” and “Bobbie Sue,” who may be no Elvira, but this legendary country music act knows how to spread around its superb four-part-harmony love. Saturday, 8 p.m., Star Pavilion at Ameristar Casino, 3200 N. Ameristar Drive, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $30-$50.

5. Jim Jefferies

Whip-smart Australian stand-up comic Jim Jefferies keeps gaining admirers by fearlessly pushing his act’s subject matter. Jefferies’ in-your-face cable TV specials have included “I Swear to God,” “Alcoholocaust” and “Fully Functional,” and his most recent comedy special, “Bare,” left little if anything to the imagination of Netflix viewers. Nothing appears to be off the table for Jefferies, whether it be sex, drugs, gun control or being a father – careful, man, that last one can be a landmine! Friday, 8 p.m.; Midland Theatre, 1228 Main St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $37.50.

6. The Wailers and Rusted Root

Once upon a time in Jamaica, the great Bob Marley was a founding member of the Wailers. The group’s buoyant and message-driven approach to roots rock reggae made an impact on pop music tastes around the globe. Marley’s untimely death in 1981 didn’t stop the Wailers from advocating his humanitarian message of “One Love.” Today, the band continues to touch the hearts and minds of audiences with original Wailer and bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett at the helm. Opening for the Wailers on their current tour is Rusted Root, whose dance-friendly world music sound came out of Pittsburgh in the 1990s – and you know they love Bob, too. Friday, 7 p.m.; Uptown Theater, 3700 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $30-$70.

7. Lolla-pi-looza: Pi Day Extravaganza

Everyone likes pie. But what about pi, the transcendental number commonly expressed as 3.14, yet which can be calculated to more than 1 trillion digits without repeating itself or revealing a pattern? Well, pi has its fans, too. It even has its own day – Pi Day – which by no coincidence falls on 3-14. Figure-loving local families will want to be part of the super numerical festivities of Lolla-pi-looza, featuring the Alferd Packer Memorial String Band performing songs about math and science. Who says smarties don’t know how to party? Saturday, 2:30-3:30 p.m.; Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St., Lawrence, Kan.; admission: free.

Brian McTavish follows popular culture in the belief that the search for significance can lead anywhere. Brian explains, "I've written articles and reviews ... reviewed hundreds of concerts, films and plays. And the thing is, these high arts all sprang from the pop culture of their day. Don't forget: Shakespeare was once Spielberg."
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