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6 Intoxicating Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend

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A sober mind is a healthy mind.

Yet there’s something about even a faintly altered state that’s potentially appealing in one way or another to practically everybody. Even children run in circles just to get dizzy – as if life isn’t enough of a merry-go-round!

Where does that leave us this weekend? Hopefully, not on the floor wondering what happened. So make a plan with these totally socially acceptable and (mostly) toxin-free ways to feed your head. Would I lead you astray? That's OK, you don't have to answer.

1. America

In the early 1970s, the soft rock band America hit it big with “A Horse with No Name,” a breezy little tune that belied a subtly hallucinatory entreaty. I don’t know what they were smoking (um, yeah, I do), but the lyrics about a weird land of “sand and hills and rings” where an anonymous horsey got to “run free” after the “desert had turned to sea” – all described in a somewhat quavering Neil Young-style vocal – took listeners to a whole other place without them having to go anywhere. Want to go back there, wherever that was?

Saturday, 8:30 p.m.; Star Pavilion at Ameristar Casino, 3200 Ameristar Dr., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $40-$55.

2. ‘Make It Funky’ James Brown Tribute Concert

The “Hardest Working Man in Show Business” was an onstage perfectionist whose commitment to getting funky was as unquestionable as his other well-earned nicknames, including the “Godfather of Soul.” Unfortunately, James Brown is gone. But the intoxicating funk music that made him world famous and can still put audiences into a “Cold Sweat” isn't. The lasting magnificence of the man also nicknamed “Soul Brother Number One” (he had a million of ’em) will be celebrated in this tribute show featuring an 11-piece band and half a dozen or more singers taking their crack at “Mr. Dynamite,” who was also known as “Mr. Sex Machine.” See what I mean?

Saturday, 7 and 10 p.m.; Knuckleheads Saloon, 2715 Rochester St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $10.

3. ‘Duets of Love and Longing’

Romantic love is perhaps the greatest intoxicant of all. Whether you’re in love, out of love or still searching for first love, only a fool would give up on love! Whew, forgive me, I got a little tipsy there. The power of love is indeed the point of the Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Ensemble’s “Duets of Love and Longing” concert devoted to chamber duets by late 17th century and early 18th century Italian composer AgostinoSteffani, whose gift for constructing exquisite melodies in counterpoint highly informed his most amorously enlivening material. You’ll never experience love songs the same way again! I mean it! Gosh, can someone get me a glass of water?

Sunday, 2:30 p.m. (pre-concert talk at 1:30 p.m.); Folly Theater 300 W. 12th St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $25, $35.

4. First Friday Play Readings

Once upon a time, only men wrote plays, or at least that’s what a lot of male playwrights may have wanted people to think. But even in the darkest of previous ages, there had to be a few gals at least secretively writing down dramas. Fortunately, the perspectives of today’s female playwrights are out in the open and a vital part of the intoxicating theater world that can move audiences to tears, laughter and maybe even sticking around after intermission. My advice to dramatists of either gender: Less is more! Here’s your chance to experience short scripts written by area women and read by local actors.

Friday, 8 p.m.; Uptown Arts Bar, 3611 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.; admission: $5.

5. WaterFire KC

Give yourself over to the intoxicating amalgam of myth-inspiring sights and sounds vying to penetrate your earthly membrane at WaterFire KC, our city’s yearly acknowledgment of the bizarre charm of smoke on the water. As diverse entertainers – including violinist Amory Bottorff, StoneLion Puppet Theatre and the Quixotic dance-plus-art collective – do their inimitable things on land, log-fueled bonfires will float down Brush Creek. Talk about a psychic cocktail.

Saturday, 7-11 p.m.; Brush Creek on the Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, Mo.; admission: free.

6. Gladstone Whiskey Fest

And now onto the fire water! You knew I’d get to this, right? The booze. The hooch. The juice. But in the case of the Gladstone Whiskey Fest, the operative word (besides “whiskey”) might be tipple, a slang term referring to imbibing only small amounts of alcohol. That said, as opposed to slurred, the fest will make “unlimited tastings” available to anyone 21 and older willing to part with fifty bucks. Two reminders for those intent on intoxicating themselves: Get something on your stomach and don’t get behind the wheel. All the better to enjoy live music from Midnight Rodeo, River Rock and Outlaw Jim & the Whiskey Benders – hic!

Saturday, 4-9:30 p.m., Linden Square, 602 N.E. 70th St., Gladstone, Mo.; tasting tickets: $20 (10 tastings), $30 (20 tastings), $50 (unlimited tastings).

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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