Bleisure in Kansas City: Pack the sax, head to the Blue Room

By , on March 24, 2016


The Blue Room in the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District. (Facebook photo)
The Blue Room in the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District.
(Facebook photo)

KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Kansas City has a wide-open selection of bars to help the business traveller shake off that last meeting and down beverages poured from full-size bottles not found in the mini-bar.

There are also loads of taverns that aim to sully your gin and quiet with music _ DJs, karaoke, a guy on a guitar.

And then there is the Blue Room, where patrons head when the need for good music pushes aside those lower-brain urges. You don’t go to the Blue Room just to have a drink, chit chat or get rid of another night.

You go to the Blue Room to listen, and not in a background-fill-in-the-gaps kind of way, but in a “Hey, pay attention!” kind of way.

The Blue Room is a small two-tiered space adjoining Kansas City’s American Jazz Museum in the Historic 18th & Vine Jazz District, a few miles from the hotels and convention locales of Crown Center, downtown and the Country Club Plaza. It’s dark, the bar is stocked, the tables small.

On a recent Friday night, by 8:40 p.m., apart from a couple bar stools, the place was standing-room-only packed. The draw that night was the James Ward Band, a six-piece contemporary jazz group that hushed the middle-age skewing crowd and set one older gentleman in an oversized sport coat dancing alone in front of the bar.

Most everyone else sat quietly, drinks before them, heads facing forward, soaking it in. A few raised their voices and clinked glasses during the set, but they were a minority.

The Blue Room “is a working jazz club exhibit” that hosts veteran musicians and new bands, locals and the internationally known, said Christopher Burnett, marketing and communications manager for the American Jazz Museum. Ida McBeth makes regular appearances.

It’s open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, with the last Monday of the month usually for big bands, and the last Thursday for Latin Jazz and Salsa.

“We’ve got some pretty good Latin bands here in Kansas City, and they pack the place,” Burnett said. “And, we have about a dozen big bands in Kansas City that are off the chain.”

The Blue Room also holds a free jam session on Monday evenings where musicians of all skill levels can sit in with veterans.

For the next trip to Kansas City, pack your sax.

 

If You Go…

THE BLUE ROOM: 1616 E. 18th St., Kansas City, Missouri;  Open Mondays and Thursday, 5 p.m.-11 p.m. (entertainment starts at 7 p.m., admission free); Fridays, 5 p.m.- 1 a.m.; Saturdays, 7 p.m.-1 a.m. (entertainment Friday-Saturday begins 8:30 p.m. with $10 cover unless otherwise noted).

ONSITE MUSEUMS: The American Jazz Museum and Negro Leagues Baseball Museum are located in the same building as the Blue Room. The museums are open Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sundays noon-6 p.m.; combined tickets to both museums cost $15, adults, and $8, children 5-12, or for one museum, $10, adults, or $6, children.