Billy Joel was in Kansas City for a concert in the third week of September, and we were there. It was the first concert in 39 years for Kaufman Stadium, and the place was sold out (well nearly sold out, we saw some vacant seats). Anyway, the old rocker is still on his game (mostly). He continues to surround himself with excellent musicians who on occasion help him hit notes that he can no longer get to. His list of performance dates is much shorter these days. Keep in mind that he turned 69 in May, and there are those who make the case that he is not a low mileage 69.
Billy Joel concerts are enjoyable for two reasons. First, his list of hits, and other songs that I would argue should have been hits, is extensive. Even without new material, there is a lot from which to draw. Few, if any, in the audience seemed to be disappointed that they were hearing tunes that all of us have listened to many, many times before. I had hoped to hear my three favorite Billy Joel songs, “New York State of Mind”, “Leningrad”, and “Good Night Saigon”. I only got to hear the first one I listed, but I was not disappointed. I ended up playing “Goodnight Saigon” on the drive back to the hotel after the concert, although I am not sure that my passengers were pleased that I did.
The second reason his concerts are fun is related to his connection to and engaging conversations with both the audience and his fellow musicians. Wrapped up in the conversation is a self-depreciating humor that I think puts the audience in the right frame of mind for a good time. Very early in the concert he noted that “I know what you are thinking, what the hell happened to him?” That was followed by another line, – he did not know that he would end up looking like Dr. Evil. A little later in the concert he noted that yes he was still playing that same old shit, and thanked us for continuing to come out for his shows. He seems to be comfortable in his own skin. His professional and personal story is complicated. If you are interested, I suggest that you find his 2006 biography and the story, Thirty-Three Hit Wonder.
Road trips to Kansas City are great fun, especially when your best friends are along for the ride. No Kansas City trip is complete without at least one stop for barbeque. We often go to Oklahoma Joe’s, but this time we went to a new place, Q39, just a short drive from the Plaza. I suggest that you check it out. The menu includes the usual brisket, ribs, and pulled pork sandwiches, done quite well. Sausage, chicken, onion straws, and local brews add tasty dimensions. The outdoor seating is excellent. (https://q39kc.com/ )
The concert was on Friday night. Saturday and Sunday marked 87th Annual Plaza Art Fair. The combination of great art (at reasonable prices), multiple music stages, and first-rate food and drink makes this a must event. I visited a number of art booths, trying to get a sense for how particular pieces might look in the new house we are building. Finally, later in the day, Janet and I saw a piece that we added to our collection. It arrived last week. Rick Abrams, the artist, works mostly in acrylics, on glass, floating two images, one on top of the other. The subjects are largely comic book characters and objects. We find his pieces a lot of fun to look at again, and again, of course asking the questions, “how did he do that?” you might want to check out his website https://www.rickabrams.com/, and smile at his work.