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Spotlight 2019: Charlie Parker features a series of spotlight events in Kansas City throughout August. We are excited to continue showcasing Kansas City jazz while highlighting our hometown legend, Charlie “Yardbird” Parker. Mark your calendars for the dates below!

Charlie Parker Centennial Mini Series: Will Matthews Organ Trio @ The Gem Theater
Aug 28 @ 4:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Charlie Parker Centennial Mini Series: Will Matthews Organ Trio @ The Gem Theater
Kansas City’s own Charlie “Yardbird” Parker was born August 29th, 1920. To commemorate his centennial birthday, the American Jazz Museum presents a mini music series in the Gem Theater!
Doors open at 4:00 pm with limited tickets available. Social distancing measures will be enforced, which includes a mask requirement.
Click “Tickets” to purchase your tickets now!
Literary Tribute to Charlie Parker, Jr. featuring Yusef Komuntakaa in conversation with Sascha Feinstein and Glenn North @ Bruce R Watkins Cultural Heritage Center (Virtual)
Aug 28 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Literary Tribute to Charlie Parker, Jr. featuring Yusef Komuntakaa in conversation with Sascha Feinstein and Glenn North @ Bruce R Watkins Cultural Heritage Center (Virtual)

Event will be streamed on Facebook: 

Poetry event hosted by Glenn North, Director – Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center. Featuring Yusef Komunyakaa with Sascha Feinstein and Glenn North.

Sponsored by the African American Artist Collective, Bruce R Watkins Cultural Heritage Center, UNESCO Creative City Network, and UMKC Center for Neighborhoods. Produced by Miles Brown.

Yusef is considered to be the foremost Jazz Poet writing today who gave special attention to Charlie Parker, Jr. and the influence of jazz on the American experience. Sascha Feinstein is a well-known poet, author and critic. He has published two definitive works on jazz and poetry, including Jazz Poetry: From the 1920s to the Present and a Bibliographic Guide to Jazz Poetry. 

Poet Glenn North is the 18th and Vine Jazz District Poet Laurate and a Cave Canem Fellow. Glenn has contributed to the UNESCO Creative City Network through his work with Tyehimba Jess in 2019.

Mr. North is Director of the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center.

More about the African American Artists Collective:

Charlie Parker Sunrise Ceremony @ Charlie Parker Memorial Sculpture
Aug 29 @ 6:15 am – 7:15 am

Guests will assemble at 6:15am at the Charlie Parker Memorial Statue. Sunrise will take place at 6:45am. African drumming will be performed to bring up the sun on Parker’s 100th Birthday. Music will be led by the Traditional Music Society, Bird Ellington Fleming, This ceremony is organized by UNESCO Creative City Kansas City – City of Music.

Charlie Parker Centennial Mini Series: 12-Hour Jam (Virtual) @ The Gem Theater
Aug 29 @ 7:00 am – 7:00 pm
Charlie Parker Centennial Mini Series: 12-Hour Jam (Virtual) @ The Gem Theater

Celebrate Bird’s birthday with a 12-hour jam session in the Gem Theater!

You must register, even for the free sessions. Social distancing will be required between parties. Masks will be required.

Session 1 (free)

7:00am – 11:45am

Matt Otto Quartet, Bryan Alford Quartet featuring Amber Underwood, Andrew Ouellette trio

Reserve your tickets here

Session 2 (free)

12:15pm – 3:15pm

James Ward Band, Peter Schlamb Quintet

Reserve your tickets here

Session 3 ($15)

3:45pm – 7:00pm

Eclipse featuring Lisa Henry, Bobby Watson

Purchase your tickets here

Early Bird: Charlie Parker at 18th & Vine Walking Tour @ 18th & Vine - Start at Jay McShann Pavilion
Aug 29 @ 9:30 am – 11:30 am
Early Bird: Charlie Parker at 18th & Vine Walking Tour @ 18th & Vine - Start at Jay McShann Pavilion

Get your tickets TODAY for a walking tour of one of Kansas City’s most historic neighborhoods; 18th & Vine Jazz District! August 29, 2020 is the 100th Birthday of Kansas City jazz legend, Charlie Parker. Celebrate by touring Bird’s old stomping grounds and feel his tunes run through you!

Please note, in an effort to minimize the number of people gathered in one space, we have split this tour into two with two different start times. The first tour will run from 9:30am – 10:30am and the second tour will be held from 10:30am – 11:30am. Each tour is limited to 26 people.

Tour Guides:

Chuck Haddix – Director of UMKC Marr Sound Archives, host of KCUR 89.3 “Fish Fry” on Friday and Saturday nights, author of “Bird – The Life and Music of Charlie Parker” and “Kansas City Jazz – From Ragtime to Bebop”.

Jacob A. Wagner – Associate Professor, UMKC Department of Architecture, Urban Planning and Design, Director of Urban Studies, and faculty founder of the UMKC Center of Neighborhoods.

Charlie Parker spent many meaningful hours in and around the area known as 18th and Vine. Join tour guides Chuck Haddix and Jacob Wagner from UMKC on a walking tour of the Jazz District to learn more about the historical context in which Charlie Parker developed as a young musician. 18th and Vine – African American business district during the time of segregation – provided all of the necessary services for Kansas City’s black community at the time. This “city within the city” is known as the Black Metropolis – and Charlie Parker’s creative genius was one of many artistic innovations that grew from this vibrant corner of the world. Tour the jazz district and learn about the remaining historical buildings and places where Charlie Parker lived and worked – from the Lincoln Building to the Mutual Musicians Foundation.

Attendees for the 9:30am tour will meet outside behind the American Jazz Museum in the Jay McShann Pavilion at 9:15am to be checked in. Attendees for the 10:30am tour will meet behing the American Jazz Museum in the Jay McShann Pavilion at 10:15am to be checked in. Please be sure to bring your tickets with you.

Following the walking tour, you are invited to tour American Jazz Museum’s latest exhibition, “Saxophone Supreme: The Life & Music of Charlie Parker”.

Charles Parker™ is a trademark of the Estate of Charles C. Parker, Jr.

The Life and Art of Robert Graham: an interview with Steven Graham @ Virtual
Aug 29 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

This interview was recorded on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Charlie Parker, Jr. Steven Graham, son of the late sculptor Robert Graham, joins Anita Dixon and Jacob Wagner for a conversation about the sculpture and its significance. Robert Graham designed the Charlie Parker Memorial – Bird Lives! Sculpture at 18th and Vine in Kansas City, Missouri.

Steven shares stories about his father and the monumental sculpture created to memorialize Charlie Parker Jr.  Interviewed by Anita Dixon and Creative City KC, Kansas City’s City of Music organization representing the UNESCO Creative City Network, with Jacob A. Wagner, Associate Professor of Urban Planning & Design.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network includes 246 cities around the world who recognize the importance of creativity and culture as drivers of sustainable urban development and design. Kansas City Missouri is a UNESCO City of Music.

Tune in at 1pm!

“Bird: Not Out of Nowhere” Documentary Screening by KCPT @ Streaming
Aug 29 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
"Bird: Not Out of Nowhere" Documentary Screening by KCPT @ Streaming 

As the world celebrates the centennial of Charlie “Bird” Parker’s birth, this film looks back at the twenty-one years Charlie spent at home in Kansas City and on his long-lasting impression on Kansas City Jazz.

Luckily, for the musical world, Charlie Parker grew up in Kansas City during the ’20s and ’30s. A destination for a low-moral character, Kansas City had an un-quenching lust for booze, women, drugs, and the music that accompanied such vices. Jazz. It was from that music scene where Charlie Parker cut his chops in late-night jam sessions. Most famously at the Reno Club on 12th where Jo Jones, disgusted with 16-year-old Charlie’s inability to keep up, threw a cymbal at his feet. Prompting an embarrassed young Charlie to sulk back home determined to one day “show those cats.” It was his elementary school music teacher calling him and his friends “Yardbirds” that set in motion what would one day become his famous moniker “Bird” and it was a car accident on a Missouri backroad that gave Charlie both a new horn and a taste for heroin. Before he ever played bebop on New York’s famed 52nd Street, Charlie Parker was Bird.

On the centennial of Charlie “Bird” Parker’s birth, KCPT presents a documentary that looks back at the twenty-one years Bird spent in Kansas City and his lasting impression on present-day Kansas City Jazz. NOT OF OUT NOWHERE will feature rarely seen historical archived footage of Charlie Parker and include interviews with musicians and historians with live performances from some of Kansas City’s most talented jazz musicians.

Charlie “Bird” Parker was a musical gift to the world from Kansas City. A gift that will continue giving because “There is music before Charlie Parker… and then there is music after Charlie Parker.”

Lonnie McFadden @ The American Reserve (at Ambassador Hotel)
Aug 29 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Lonnie McFadden @ The American Reserve (at Ambassador Hotel)

The American Reserve brings you some of the best Kansas City musicians accompanied by soulful cuisine and handcrafted cocktails. Bask in the refreshing weather as you relax and enjoy the romantic ambiance brought to you by The American Reserve. Because of limited seating and social distancing, reservations are required. Choose ‘outdoor seating’ when you do. Click here to make a reservation. 

Basie to Bird to Bobby – Kansas City Jazz Orchestra (Quintet) Drive-In Concert @ Plexpod
Aug 29 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Please join KCJO5, a small group from the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, as we bring some great music to you: Drive-In style! You might be aware that Count Basie, Charlie Parker, and Bobby Watson all have birthdays within a week of each other the last part of August, so we thought it’d be fun to celebrate these legendary representatives of Kansas City jazz history. Performing will be: David Chael, Clint Ashlock, Eddie Moore, Andrew Stinson, and John Kizilarmut. Please check us out LIVE on Bird’s birthday: Saturday, 8/29 at 8:00pm for this drive-in concert at at Plexpod Westport Commons, 300 E. 39th St., Kansas City, Missouri 64111. For more information, visit

How It Works:

  • Buying a “ticket” reserves one parking space (one ticket per car) – Meaning if you wanted to buy a space and bring your partner along – or the two of you wanted to bring another couple you feel safe with, you could, no extra charge
  • You may not bring drinks or food. There will be vendors at the event providing both refreshments and food.
  • You may choose your parking spot when you arrive, day of the event – first come, first served.
  • Doors (or shall I say driveway entrance) opens one hour before showtime.
  • You must wear a mask should you decide to leave your car/parking space to visit vendors or use the facilities
  • KC Drive-In Concerts will be emphasizing safety, respect and mindfulness. Thanks for helping us create a safe space to create live music!
  • Stay at least 20 feet from the stage
Kansas City Museum Sunset Session Watch Party @ Virtual
Aug 29 @ 8:00 pm – 8:30 pm

The Museum Sessions is a digital series of music that explores the sounds and stories of Kansas City one song at a time.

The series is presented and produced by UNESCO Creative Cities – Kansas City and the Kansas City Museum, in collaboration with One Kansas City Radio. All recordings take place at the Kansas City Museum.

Featuring Aryana Nemati Trio: Aryana Nemati (Alto sax), Jackie Meyers (Keyboard) and Carly Atwood (Upright bass).

12th Street Jump Radio Broadcast @ KCUR 89.3
Aug 30 @ 12:00 am – 1:00 am

There will be a Charlie Parker-themed show on KCUR from 12am – 1am on Sunday, August 30th. This will feature Bobby Watson. The broadcast is from 2017.