Kansas City celebrates Make Music Day

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas keeps a beat while the Back Alley Brass Band performs. Photo by Abby Hoover

On the longest day of the year, Kansas City, Mo., will participate in its first annual city-wide Make Music Day as part of a global celebration of music.

Launched in 1982 in France as the Fête de la Musique, it is now held on the same day in more than 1,000 cities in 120 countries. In 2021, Make Music Day will take place throughout Kansas City in a safe, city-wide celebration organized by the Parks and Recreation Department. 

On June 18, in the historic 18th and Vine District, Mayor Quinton Lucas officially proclaimed June 21 Make Music Day in Kansas City.

“Throughout Kansas City we will have hundreds of performers who are taking part in Make Music Day,” Lucas said. “We celebrate our community, we celebrate our talent, we celebrate our culture. Through Make Music Day we get a chance to do that in connection with all of the wonderful, talented people here in Kansas City and throughout the region.”

Lucas joined the Back Alley Brass Band on an upturned five gallon bucket, showing off his rhythm. At Mill Creek Park at 1 p.m. and Dunbar Park at 2 p.m. on Monday, June 21, families can participate in a fun outdoor drumming workshop. Using recycled buckets and a rhythm, students will learn about the role of music in various cultures and how those cultures influence what you hear in the music of the streets today.

From 4 to 8 p.m., Bands Undercover, where musicians will come together to perform each other’s songs in a unique exchange of original music, will be at Knuckleheads Saloon, 2715 Rochester St. Six local bands will take the stage, each playing a brief set with three or four songs of their own and then playing songs with different musicians and covering each other’s material in a unique showcase of some of the best talent in Kansas City.

The Dan Riggs Big Band will perform at The Colonnade at Concourse Park on Benton Boulevard from 5 to 6:45 p.m. Harmony Project KC, a free after-school music and mentoring program providing orchestral training at the Northeast Community Center, will follow from 7 to 7:45 p.m.

With over 90 concerts and hundreds of musicians featuring a variety of genres, the day is completely different from a typical music festival.

“I am looking forward to seeing our neighborhoods come alive with music, celebrating the rich history and diverse talent of the Kansas City’s music scene, particularly after a long year of distance as our community grappled with COVID-19,” Lucas said. “Kansas City is proud to be home to so many musical pioneers, such as Charlie “Bird” Parker and William J. “Count” Basie, and we will continue to foster this spirit of creativity and innovation for generations to come. I encourage all to participate in Make Music Day to show support for the exceptional talent that exists in every neighborhood of our community.”

Make Music Day is open to anyone who wants to take part. Every kind of musician — young and old, amateur and professional, of every musical persuasion — will pour onto streets, parks, plazas, and porches to share their music with friends, neighbors, and strangers. The entire event is free and open to the public.

In celebration of Make Music Day, the downtown skyline was lit orange through the weekend and Kansas City’s iconic fountains at Mill Creek and The Concourse were dyed orange.

For a full list of the day’s events, visit makemusicday.org/kcmo.

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