Tag Archives: Olathe

Sam Bush playing “Billy Bob” Marley’s “One Love”

When Sam Bush and his band started to play this bluegrass-reggae fusion of “One Love” by Bob Marley (or “Billy Bob” Marley as Sam Bush called him) I fumbled with my new camera to start recording. I missed the first minute or two, but still captured almost ten minutes. My son-in-law has played bass in reggae bands so I wanted him to hear this. He and my daughter have seen Sam Bush with us in this concert series in the past. As an unexpected bonus, the bass guitarist played a solo.

Sam Bush 2011, Olathe Free Summer Concert series.

Sam Bush 2011, Olathe Free Summer Concert series.

This is the fifth year we’ve seen Sam Bush play in the Olathe Free Concert Series, which is in its 14th year.  Sam Bush performed this year on June 7th. (2013) I noticed as I looked at my photos from previous years that there’s at least one person in front of the stage wearing the same shirt each time.  See if you can find him.  You’ll see him in the video, too.

From the Olathe Website: “The Olathe FREE Summer Concert series began in 2000. Each year it showcases top quality, cutting edge artists featuring a variety of family friendly genres of music. Thanks to the support from the population at large and our generous sponsors, we are accomplishing that goal. Over the past 14 years the Olathe Parks and Recreation Department has presented local, regional, national and international performers. Some of these artists are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, have won numerous Grammy Awards, have written #1 Hits on the Billboard charts, won Blues Music Awards, Country Music Awards and are in the Kansas Music Hall of Fame.
The series brings not only music to Olathe, but community giving. Each show a local charity is recognized and concert goers are encouraged to make donations. In the last 8 years more than $127,000 has been given back by the more than 15,000 a year attendees.”

Official Sam Bush Website.

Here’s a blog post I wrote about Asleep at the Wheel, which performed at the Olathe Free Summer Concert Series in 2010.

Sam Bush 2010, Olathe Free Summer Concert series.

Sam Bush 2010, Olathe Free Summer Concert series.

 

Sam Bush 2012, Olathe Free Concert Series.

Sam Bush 2012, Olathe Free Concert Series.

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Filed under Entertainment, Kansas, Music

The Prairie Center

 

Botantist and Environmentalist Frank Norman displays a sumac shrub on a recent nature walk at The Prairie Center in Olathe, Kansas. Smooth Sumac is a native shrub that is widespread across the country.

 

October is a favorite time of year in the Midwest.  It’s not too hot, there’s a crisp feel to the air, and a tangy fragrance wafts in the wind.   This smoke-tinged perfume could be just the dying breath of trees as they shed their leaves and hunker down for winter, but it brings back sweet memories of apple harvests, and trick-or-treating and shuffling in the leaves on the walk home from elementary school.  (On the way to school, I trudged rather than shuffled through the leaves.)

I’ve lived in the Kansas City area for most of my life, but I’m still discovering its treasures.  One is the Prairie Center in Olathe, Kansas. On Oct. 10, some friends, family members and I joined two dozen others on a stroll through part of the center’s 300 acres.  Frank Norman of Norman Ecological Consulting led the walk, which focused on native medicinal prairie plants.  Sue Holcomb of Grasslands Heritage Foundation also pointed out many of the native plants in the prairie preserve, which includes 45 acres of virgin prairie. Virgin prairie means that the land was never plowed, which is very rare to find.  Only five percent of the original tallgrass prairie remains today in the United States.

 

 

The Downy Gentian (Gentiana puberulenta) is a beautiful, rare find. It's small, but because of its brilliant blue color, it's easy to spot if you're lucky enough to find some.

 

 

The partridge pea (Cassia chamecrista) is a bright spot among the browning fall grasses at the Olathe Prairie Center.

 

 

In Autumn, sunflowers tower above the asters and other plants at the Prairie Center in Olathe.

 

 

Milkweed pods and willow-leaf purple aster at the Prairie Center in Olathe.

 

Here’s a post I wrote in the summer of 2008 about the Kansas City Symphony’s performance in the Flint Hills: Kansas City Symphony in the Flint Hills.

To learn more, click on these links.

Olathe Prairie Center

Grassland Heritage Foundation.

Dennis Toll has stopped blogging here, but the blog still contains a lot of information about the prairie, as well as useful links.

Flint Hills, Tall Grass

Sumac.

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Filed under Biology, Conservation, Education, Environment, History, Kansas, Kansas City, Life, Nature, Photography, Science

The Elders and Beautiful Furniture

Ian Byrne, center on the drum,  of the Irish-American band The Elders gives an enthusiastic performance, as always.

Ian Byrne, center on the drum, of the Irish-American band The Elders gives an enthusiastic performance, as always.

Twenty years ago my husband handed me a flyer he’d found on a bulletin board in a Martin City, Missouri,  barbecue joint.

“Maybe this guy can make some tables for us,” he said.  We’d wanted a couple of oak tables to match a pair we already owned.

“Sure,” I said.  “Call him.” 

And that’s how we met Ian Byrne, furniture maker extraordinaire but even now more widely known as the lead singer of  the contemporary Irish-American band “The Elders”.   It’s been fun ever since.

Kathy Quinn brings a young man on stage to introduce the band The Elders.  Lead singer Ian Burne and Kathy's husband) is at the left.

Kathy Quinn brings a young man on stage to introduce the band The Elders. Lead singer Ian Burne and Kathy's husband) is at the left.

Long ago, when we handed Ian our plan for some oak end tables, Ian worked in a small shop (I think it was someone’s garage) in Martin City, a Kansas City suburb with a rural feel.  He was slowly acquiring wood-working equipment and told us we were some of his first customers.  

When we met Ian, he’d only been in the United States for a couple of years, coming to live in his wife’s hometown of Kansas City.   Native to County Wicklow, Ireland, Ian had met  his wife Kathy Quinn when her family regularly vacationed there.  They were each other’s first and only sweethearts, they are happy to say.  Kathy is an award-winning disc jockey and newscaster for local Kansas City television and radio stations, and Ian would tune in her radio program while he worked.  She dedicated a song to us once while we visited Ian’s shop.  They are both such warm, happy, inclusive, delightful people that you can’t resist them.

What a shapely leg!  Ian crafted this table leg after I showed him a photo of a similar table leg. It's one of my favorite tables.

What a shapely leg! Ian crafted this table after I showed him a photo of a similar table leg. It's one of my favorite tables.

Ian’s business continued to grow, and he moved to larger shops.  Ian made more oak furniture for us — a china cabinet, a head board, book shelves, entertainment centers, more tables. We like oak —  it’s solid, beautiful and indestructible — but Ian can work in any wood.   One of Ian’s early shops was in a forested area, and when we talked to him about a new project, he told us he’d just seen his first snake — ever.   He made some joke about St. Patrick needing to come to Missouri. 

Eventually, his business grew so large that he moved into a 16,000-square-foot area  in a large old warehouse in the West Bottoms near downtown Kansas City.  He gave us a tour after we’d visited the nearby Haunted Houses with our kids one October.  Byrne Custom Woodworking Inc.  is now in more than 30,000 square feet in an underground facility in Lenexa, Kansas.   His company makes custom furniture, exquisite cabinetry for kitchens and plantation shutters.  His clientele have  included people from here and far away, including Steven Spielberg.  Ian is out of our league now!

Danny Cox, a noted Kansas City musician, opened for The Elders. Cox is featured in the newly released documentary "Cowtown Ballroom...Sweet Jesus".

Danny Cox, a noted Kansas City musician, opened for The Elders in June in Olathe. Cox is featured in the newly released documentary "Cowtown Ballroom...Sweet Jesus!"

With his business booming, Ian was still able to find some time to return to music. The Elders were formed in 1998. (Their tag line is Arse Kicking Music from the Heartland.)  Ian told us that in Ireland he’d been in a band that traveled around playing music in the style of Supertramp — I think.  I confess that although his accent is adorable and charming, I’m not always sure quite what he is saying.

We have followed the band through the years from gigs in local pubs to parking lots in Westport to large venues.  They have a huge following of fans who can sing along.  Two years ago, my daughter worked as an intern for The Elders’ violinist Brent Hoad in his recording studio, which gave us a taste of just how busy they were, crisscrossing the country.  The band headlines at many festivals.

The Elders perform in Olathe, Kansas, on June 5, 2009.

The Elders performed in Olathe, Kansas, on June 5, 2009.

This past weekend, The Elders opened the tenth year of free concerts in Olathe, Kansas.  Ian told the crowd how great it was to play in town.

“In thirty minutes we can drive home and be in our scratchers,” he said. 

It was a perfect June night, just warm enough to be comfortable with a light breeze.  An almost full moon rose to cast its cool, pale light upon us.  There weren’t even any bugs!  Could this be Kansas?  Step dancing erupted in the crowd, and the dancers had to find places to do their complicated moves among the blankets and folding chairs. 

“I came to this country in 1987,” he told the crowd.  “This year I’m completing my papers to become a citizen.”  He said he’d been studying for the citizenship test, and then one of his band members  joked that  “I hope they grade on the curve.”  But Ian rejoined that he thought he now knew more about this country “than most of you” and was eager to become a citizen.  Many of The Elders’ songs are about tradition and family, about roots and leaving home.

Here, Ian is singing with The Elders at the St. Patrick's Day festivities in Westport area of Kansas City,  Missouri, on March 17, 2005.

Here, Ian is singing with The Elders at the St. Patrick's Day festivities in Westport area of Kansas City, Missouri, on March 17, 2005.

The Elders have recorded several CDs and are featured on two DVDs, including “The Elders: Alive and Live in Ireland” about their 2007 tour of Ireland by Kansas City documentary maker Ben Meade, who is also featured in Joe Heyen’s just released documentary “Cowtown Ballroom…Sweet Jesus!”  When my daughter was an intern with The Elders’ violinist, she and I worked the merchandise table at a special showing of The Elders movie when Meade, the band and many friends were there to celebrate its release. It was like one big happy family.  Ian and Kathy give back to the community a hundred-fold.  I’ve even seen his company’s name on a barbecue tent at the annual American Royal Barbecue Contest.  Every year, Ian’s woodworking company creates and donates a beautifully crafted wine cabinet for the Operation Breakthrough auction, and The Elders play many benefit concerts for schools and groups.

I hope you get a chance to see them if they play in your area.  Here’s their website, which includes music, merchandise and their schedule:  The Elders, Arse Kicking Music from the Heartland. They can tell their story better than I can.  Check out Ian’s woodworking company at Byrne Custom Wood.   Check out Operation Breakthrough.

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Filed under Entertainment, Friendship, Kansas City, Life, Music, Personal