Progress 2012: Sedalia live music and visual arts scenes boast variety of hot spots to overcome lack of downtown strip
While Sedalia’s west-side dining tilt is merely a more-extreme version of typical restaurant clustering, its layout of bars and live music venues is decidedly unusual.
Whereas most towns have a downtown strip featuring several clubs within walking distance of each other (Warrensburg’s Pine Street is a nearby example), Sedalia’s venues are scattered.
As such, people tend to pick a location where they can spend the entire evening, and that has been good for live music venues and bars such as Dickie Doo Bar-B-Que (down south), End Zone Sports Bar & Grill (in the west-side shopping district), Dukes & Boots (further west), Mandy’s Korner Lounge (on 16th Street), Barb’s East End Restaurant (out east) and North 65 Cafe (up north). Coach’s Sports Bar and Chez When Cocktail Lounge, arranged kitty-corner downtown, are the only geographically paired music venues.
Rick Hunt, the owner of Dickie Doo on South U.S. Highway 65, doesn’t mind the geographic arrangement, and he has an interesting argument for why it’s not so bad being away from downtown.
“I kind of like it off by ourselves,” Hunt said. “We can make all the noise we want without bothering anybody. We love our deck, and you can’t have a deck like this downtown. People who are trying to sleep are not going to let us be loud at night.”
Because bar-hopping isn’t easy in Sedalia, planning ahead is a good idea. Clubs like Dickie Doo and Dukes & Boots often take table reservations in advance when a band is playing or a holiday party is scheduled.
Connie Smith, executive director of the Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce, said this isn’t a negative, it’s just different: “I come from area where there’s a downtown where you can park and walk to two or three venues and walk from one to another. But I think that’s kind of a passé thing. I go to venues where I seek out my entertainment. I look at what bands are playing and then decide where I want to go.”
That means live-music venues have to go beyond plastering colored-paper posters in their entryways to get the word out about what bands are playing.
“We’ve got our Facebook page, we’ve got our website, we’ve got ads on the radio, we have a sign out in front, and we have all this traffic on 65,” Hunt said. “We get people calling to see who’s playing this weekend. The word’s out that we have bands. When I first bought it, I felt you kind of had to look for Dickie Doo. That’s why I put a new electronic sign up. And for people looking for live music in the Internet age — if you’ve got people looking for you, they can find you.”
As the Sedalia venue that hosts bands most often, and the only one that regularly updates the calendar on its website (in fact, it beats even Warrensburg’s clubs in this regard), Dickie Doo — which features classic rock, country or blues bands on Saturdays, plus jam night on Thursdays and the occasional Friday band — is the metaphorical center of the Sedalia entertainment scene, even if it's not in the heart of the city.
“I consider Dickie Doo to be the home of live music in Sedalia,” said Hunt, who noted that many of his customers come from Cole Camp, Warsaw and other surrounding towns. “We’ve got a lot of good musicians here in Sedalia. On jam night, it’s unbelievable the people you will see. A lot of times people come out on jam night to look for talent.”
The Sedalia visual arts scene inarguably has a hub, and it’s State Fair Community College’s Daum Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s the highlight of a local scene that also includes downtown’s Liberty Center Loft Gallery and the Katy Depot gallery.
Just as restaurants and music clubs bank on Sedalia being a destination community, so does the Daum. In a January, when the museum celebrated its 10th anniversary, founding director and Sedalia artist Douglass Freed spoke of it in regional terms.
“I think it certainly has put Sedalia on the map for people in the know in visual arts,” Freed said. “To people in the community, it’s like (the) Scott Joplin (International Ragtime Festival, held every June). People are proud of it, but maybe don’t get involved as much as you’d like them to. But our audience is a regional audience. When we first opened 10 years ago, we were the only community college art museum in the geographic area. Since then, it’s quite common for community colleges to have nice exhibition spaces, but for a community college to have an art museum is still a really unusual thing.”
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