I was expecting a quiet hotel lounge. Man, was I wrong. What a blast.
That’s the mini-review. Now, the details.
I hadn’t been to the Drum Room, 13th and Baltimore, before. But this past Saturday night, with Megan Birdsall singing there, it seemed a good time to check the place out.
The room is small and, with all hard surfaces for music and talk to bounce off, it’s not a listening room. The harsh acoustics are particularly unforgiving to vocals and drums, and to ambient noise. You’re never far from the band, but if you’re not settled in the direct path of a speaker, don’t expect to hear the vocalist clearly.
And it doesn’t matter. Not a bit. Because, at least last Saturday, that’s not what this space, at its best, is about.
It’s the crowd, which loudly talks, makes noise, masks the music, bumps you in your seat, walks in and out, blocks your view, occasionally yells, it’s the crowd propelled by the music which makes this space so much fun.
You’re not at a table. You’re sitting next to everyone. Next to the guy or the gal who will break from their own conversation to engage you. Next to the group that jumps from their seat to take the floor and dance. All, and this is important, driven by the fantastic band playing the room.
This city has been host to some terrific vocalists (two of them were there on Saturday; more on that in a moment). And Megan is one of the unsurpassed, one of the young KC jazz performers who are just too damn good to remain known only to us. With a voice playfully best in live performance, and backed by more of KC’s greatest (this group: Danny Embry on guitar, Bob Bowman on bass, Matt Leifer on drums), it's a group which knows how to drive the room. Hey, the music drove a stranger seated next to me tap my shoulder and half ask/half exclaim, “Have you ever heard anything better?"
Answer: Not so easy to clearly hear, but the raucous room made the night plenty easy to enjoy. And, after all, isn’t having fun what going out for a night of fun all about?
Former KC resident and Grammy-nominated jazz singer Karrin Allyson stopped by to hear a set. Beena, owner of Jardine’s, was there and was, during the last couple of numbers, coaxed out to the dance floor.
I don’t know if this is what the Drum Room is like every week. I’ve now been there just once. But this last Saturday it was, well, no better word for it, it was a blast.