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6 Things To Do This Labor Day Weekend In Kansas City

Kansas City Irish Fest
We Banjo Three plays at The Kansas CIty Irish Fest.

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend with live music and festivals offering cultural and family entertainments aimed at putting your workload delightfully on hold.

Peace and love? Check. Carnivals and contests? Check. A community vintage car cruise for the ages? Check.

And no matter where we go or what we do this holiday weekend, let’s be sure to appreciate America’s amazing workforce. Here’s hoping as many as possible can take a well-deserved break.

1. Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band

He’s the world’s most famous drummer and that’s putting it mildly. Ringo Starr also happened to keep rhythm in the world’s most famous band. What was that tight little quartet’s name again? It’ll come to me. Ringo is on the road this summer sharing his eternal “peace and love” message by way of his charismatic 1970s solo hits, including “It Don’t Come Easy” and “Photograph,” and such signature 1960s songs as “I Wanna Be Your Man,” “Act Naturally,” “Yellow Submarine” and “With a Little Help From My Friends.”

The historic aura will be further energized with more than a little aid from Ringo’s kindly celebrity bandmates, who’ll step up to perform some of their own yesteryear hits, including Santana’s Gregg Rolie (“Black Magic Woman”), 10cc’s Graham Gouldman (“I’m Not In Love”), Toto’s Steve Lukather (“Rossana”) and Men at Work’s Colin Hay (“Land Down Under”).

So make this show a must, even if you’re cheering for only one of…the Beatles! Knew I’d get it.

Monday, 7 p.m. Monday; Starlight Theatre, 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $24.75-$175.

2. Jethro Tull

Idiosyncratic singer/songwriter, acrobatic flautist and rock 'n' roll raconteur Ian Anderson is celebrating his band's 50th anniversary with a concert tour crafted from Jethro Tull’s expansive repertoire of nostalgic radio hits and fan-favorite album tracks. Whether you want to be “Living in the Past,” catch up with “Cross Eyed Mary” or just “Bungle in the Jungle,” Anderson’s got you covered. Funny how it was waaay back in 1976 that the feisty front man first warbled the wistful “Too Old to Rock ’n’ Roll: Too Young to Die.” That’s still Anderson’s story and he’s rocking to it.

Saturday, 8 p.m.; Starlight Theatre, 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $49.50-$65.

3. Santa-Cali-Gon Days

The 46th annual festival in Independence observing the confluent starting place of the Santa Fe, California and Oregon trails remains the area’s quintessential Labor Day weekend family party. There will be loads of live music onstage, including blues-busting Saturday night headliner the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band and a Sunday night gig by longtime local Beatles tribute band Liverpool … so if Ringo’s in town a day early, what are the chances? The fun mix includes theater, belly-dancing, a high school robotics competition and ice cream-eating and root beer-chugging contests. What, no root-beer-and-ice-cream floats to slurp as fast as possible? Well, there’s always the leftovers.

Thursday (carnival only), 6 p.m.-midnight, Friday, noon-11 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Monday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Historic Independence Square (from Osage Street to Memorial Drive between Truman and Walnut streets), Independence, Mo.; admission: free (carnival extra).

4. De Soto Days Festival

There’s a carnival, games, contests and plenty of music to take in at the 54th annual De Soto Days fest. But it’s the Saturday morning parade and classic car cruise that may attract the most attention, with more than 100 vintage vehicles expected to roll along before being parked in downtown De Soto for daylong “oohing” and “aahing” purposes. If you’ve got a cool old muscle car or the like that you’d like to enter, signing up is as easy as showing up with your wheels at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Can I get a 1967 Chevy Camaro? No, really, would someone like to give me one? It never hurts to ask.

Thursday (carnival only) and Friday, 6-10 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Miller Memorial Park, 32400 W. 83rd St., De Soto, Kan.; admission: free (carnival extra).

5. Kansas City Irish Fest

Irish music, dancing, comedy and whiskey tasting (combine with comedy for best results) are back for another three-day go-round devoted to the Emerald Isle. The Kansas City Irish Fest’s children’s area alone is worth coming for, with yard games, a rock wall, a bungee jump, costume contests and chances for kids to take their best swings at the fest’s official Irish piñatas or “Wackalaylees.” Begorrah!

Friday, 5-11 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Crown Center, 2450 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.; admission: $7-15 daily.

6. Banda MS
Super-successful Mexican music outfit Banda MS is calling all admirers of its traditional yet contemporary brass-fueled rancheros, along with arena-rallying renditions of classic pop and rock tunes. Don’t speak Spanish? Don’t have to. Just take a load off and enjoy.  
Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $62-$152.

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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