Kansas City has been a spot I've longed to play for some time. My current circumstances allow for a simple trip. I-35 South for 2 hours 45 minutes and there you are. The first 45 minutes of my trip were driven through a torrential downpour that had the interstate slowed down to about 45 miles an hour. The windshield wipers couldn't keep up. Fortunately, there were enough "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" podcasts to keep me occupied for the near 6 hour drive. To be frank (Reynolds), there was something in the neighborhood of 25 emails sent to venues throughout the city. Two responded. Two were booked. It's...not a great percentage when you look at the overall numbers, but a booked show is a booked show. That's the job I've signed up for, and now I'm fortunate to find myself in Kansas City. Making friends and playing songs. Cinder Block Brewing was a packed house. I think that was due to the ambience in the taproom and the great beer they had on tap. Being honest, as I always try to be, it was almost too busy for me to have an impact. I was nervous to play in the larger Kansas City market, but it turns out they'll ignore you down there just like they sometimes do around here in these smaller markets. Talking honestly. Now, I hadn't realized until the weekend was over that it happened to be the weekend of the Iowa State Girl's Basketball Tournament. Famous in my home state for cultivating some of the worst weather we see during the year. Saturday brought higher than average temperatures, thunderstorms, hail, and, most unfortunately, a deadly tornado. It looks like Iowans are responding to that tragedy, the way Iowans always do. I arrived home after midnight and didn't know anything about what occurred until I woke up Sunday morning. To below freezing temperatures and pancakes, thanks to my wife. That cold weather gave way to snow on Sunday evening and over night. Snow that is melting away quickly on this warmer, sun-filled, Monday. Weather as unpredictable as can be.
What was predictable? Great BBQ in Kansas City.
The North Kansas City neighborhood that I played in also had four BBQ restaurants within a couple of miles from one another. I picked Hawg Jaw Que & Brew based largely on their name. But I was also drawn in by these loaded, pulled pork french fries. Pictured below with the beans. Of course I got a side order of beans. This side dish was served in a small white styrofoam cup. The industry standard. They were also served up steaming hot. Not always the industry standard, but it should be. It is a warm side dish, after all. These beans made contact with multiple senses. You could feel the warmth. You could smell the tangy sauce. You could see the single bean profile of the dish. One type of bean, but they were cooked to near perfection. With a side dish that likely sits in a warm pan or pot throughout the day, you run the risk of the ingredients breaking down and losing consistency. That did not occur here. There didn't appear to be any vegetables in this offering, but there were small pieces of smoked meat mixed in. They were too small and infrequent to determine if they were pork of beef. I would posit the assumption it was pork. I would have preferred to see a second type of bean or a meat or vegetable to give the bites some variety. Overall, though, the beans had a good consistency. There were stew-like. Enough sauce, but not too much to make it runny. These could have been eaten with a fork. The sauce itself was a great mixture of sweet and tangy flavors and there was a mild heat backbone to the dish. It worked great in concert with the other flavors.
Ratings (On a scale of 1-5)
Total Score: 10
For what it's worth,
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: 5