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6 Big Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend

Courtesy of Charles Xavier Conley

How big is too big? There's no such thing this weekend, with entertainments whose sheer size and/or towering reputation can’t help but elicit extraordinary appreciation.

From the awesomely planetary to the impressively encyclopedic, the intensely grand to the entirely over the top – here’s your list of lofty events to absolutely lose yourself in before life returns to normal on Monday.

Go big or go home? Nonsense. Just go bigger!

1. Planet Comicon

More than the “region’s largest comic book and pop culture convention,” Planet Comicon is a virtual cosmic experience. That might seem like an exaggeration to the uninitiated, but not to the seasoned horde of comic-book, sci-fi-fantasy, film, TV and cosplay fans expected to pack the aisles at this three-day celebration of the invitingly imaginary in downtown Kansas City.

Whether you’re seeking superhero-creating writers and artists or such media celebrities as shock rock innovator Alice Cooper, movie star John Cusack or Aquaman himself, Jason Momoa, Planet Comicon is an enormous one-stop shop for all things larger than life. That includes enough vendors of way-out comics, toys, clothes, crafts and irresistible trinkets to have you reciting the dedicated accumulator’s mantra: “Gotta keep the collection going.” Or as the King of Comics, Jack Kirby, said: “Don’t ask, just buy it!”

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: $40-$90 adults; $15-$35 ages 8-12.

2. Kansas City Folk Festival

A passel of local, regional, national and global musicians will share their big talents on stage at the Kansas City Folk Festival, the public culmination of this week’s third annual Folk Alliance International Conference at the Westin Crown Center Hotel.

Headliners are veteran singer/songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter, who in the 1990s won four straight Grammys for Best Female Country Vocal Performance, and button accordion legend Flaco Jimenez with Max Baca and Los Texmaniacs. And there’s plenty more folk music to enjoy from the fest’s hefty daylong schedule of more than 20 performers, representing such sub-genres as folk/rock, folk/pop, folk/jazz, bluegrass, delta blues, honkytonk and children’s music. Take your pick, pickers and grinners!

Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Weston Crown Center Hotel, 1 E. Pershing Road, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $30 adults, $25 seniors and students, $10 ages 5-14.

3. Brad Paisley with Dustin Lynch, Chase Bryant and Lindsay Ell

Even if you don’t follow country music, chances are you’ve caught Brad Paisley in TV commercials in which his jingle-singing just can’t seem to please future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback and life insurance spokesman Payton Manning. Getting to goof around with a fellow famous person like Manning – no doubt for a big check – is one of the perks of being a country superstar.

Of course, no one will be questioning Paisley’s way with words and music when he and some of his up-and-coming country music pals bring their "Weekend Warrior Tour" to Sprint Center. Keep an ear out for Paisley laying out the case for what he does so well in “This is Country Music” and poignantly addressing life’s milestones that fly by before you know it in “Last Time For Everything,” one of the standout cuts on his latest album, “Love and War.”

Friday, 7 p.m.; Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $26.99-$126.99.

4. Peter Cetera

Singer/songwriter Peter Cetera was an original member (1967-1985) of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Chicago, which smartly combined jazzy horns and rock beats to worldwide acclaim. After that, he went on to sizeable solo success. Still, here’s a big question for many: Exactly what’s meant by the title of Chicago’s 1970 hit, “25 or 6 to 4,” whose massive appeal was spurred by Cetera’s urgently soaring tenor voice and is almost certain to be part of his set list when he appears with his seven-piece band at the Kauffman Center? Consider that your homework before making the gig. Big hint: What role can time play in the creative process?

Sunday, 7 p.m.; Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $39-$109.

5. Mitsuko Uchida

A lone woman seated at a grand piano doesn’t necessarily prompt immense respect – unless that woman is Mitsuko Uchida. The renowned classical pianist will play Schubert's poetic music when she returns to the Harriman-Jewell Series for the first time since 1992. Talk about big anticipation. Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $30-$85.

6. Kansas City Winter Axe Games

It’s possible that at some point you’ve had an axe to grind. But how about hurling one? A big one. If you’re not already fleeing from the question, the Kansas City Winter Axe Games – an axe-throwing tournament aimed at folks looking for leading-edge "experiential entertainment" – may be just what you need to wind up the weekend in a hugely different way. The winner gets a custom-made axe to be really careful with when not tossing it at a target with proper supervision. Not that I want to cut into your big time!

Sunday, 6-8 p.m.; Blade & Timber, 1101 Mulberry St., Kansas City, Mo.; entry fee: $15.

Brian McTavish is a regular arts and culture contributor for KCUR 89.3. You can reach him at brianmctavish@gmail.com.

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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