David Owens, singer-song writer, jams in Mead's Corner on Friday during the Wichita music crawl. The music crawl occurs the first Friday of every month in Wichita. (Samantha Gillis/Collegian photographer)

By Samantha Gillis
Staff reporter

When I got wind of a music crawl in Wichita, I did a double take. I must had my noggin buried underground for the past three years, because there is a bounty of shops, restaurants and events in or around Winfield. Sadly, I am only now becoming aware of these delightful attractions.

The music crawl in Wichita is part of an effort to draw attention to local musicians and artists. It had its debut in 2009 and in between April to November 2009 it has raked in $13,000 to local merchants according to www.wichitafirstfriday.com.

The first Friday of the month is a collection of a dozen venues who host a musical guest. The First Friday website had a list of times, venues, artist and genre the artist. Music typically starts around 6:30 p.m. and goes until 10 p.m. Two or three artist may start at the same time, but this allowed the listener to choose and hear snippets of several different artists, rather than choosing just one for the entire evening. The website also provided a map, unfortunently the map was not updated, it was from the First Friday in September—bummer. A map would have been helpful.

Last Friday me and four lovely friends made a quest for Wichita to see what the music crawl was all about. As we stepped out of my Honda Civic we were brimming with spontaneity and non-committal. We didn’t spend too much time at any locale and we did not follow the band schedules rigorously. Which I believe worked to our advantage.

We met another friend at Larkspur, where they hosted a piano and electric bass jazz duo. We strolled in at 7:45 p.m. just after the music began. Unaware of the rather high prices we decided to settle with some tap beers and split a couple appetizers of hummus and pita and also bruschetta feta tapenade. It was quite delicious especially with the soothing jazz palpitating around the restaurant.

We then traversed over to Meads Corner, which was only a few blocks down from Larkspur. The vibes there reminded me of spiced hot cider on a nippy winter day—cozy yet jive. Unfortunately those vibes attracted all of the twenty year olds in the county, for space was limited. The only table available barely fit six bottoms. It was also not within ear shot of the music—a bit of a downer. After our $7 paninis (with a green salad no less,) we stood in the back of the crowd to listen to David Owens a singer songwriter. He was decent, not one you croon over but easy on the ears.

Once again we were off, to Rock Island Live where the schedule promised an indie/rock sound. When we arrived the thumps coming from inside were definitely not of indie, but were bordering on heavy metal. Plus there was a cover, $5 too much.

Well it was 10 o’clock by then and only one site remained: Kelley’s Irish Pub. After asking some elder men in leather jackets and scars on their faces for directions we proceeding to wander aimlessly through damp alleys and eerie parking lots. We finally found it.

We approached and were dismayed by the smoke plume looming over a group standing outside. The smokers had no shortage of high-heels, hockey jerseys and bleach tarnished denim. The band inside consisted of 17-year-olds shaking their heads profusely (much like a dog trying to dry off.) Although the pub tempted us with the prospect of people watching, we did not stay for the scream-o band. Instead we went next door for a less strung out crowd and the benefit of keeping our hearing.  

As the night wound down I felt a tiny pebble of discontent in the bottom of my stomach. The lack of collectiveness among the venues put a damper on my love for the event. I figured a theme or color or something would tie it all together. But instead they were all disconnected; each performance was its own little entity. It was just as if the event handed us a list of venues offering music that evening rather than an embracing all the music acts. None of the musicians mention the event, or pointed to a brochure or nodded at a sign about the event. In fact there were no signs at all proclaiming there was a music crawl happening. I found that odd.

Despite my qualms with the shindig, it was a magnificent evening. When one is accompanied by a majestic throng of companions not much can hinder your night. Scoping out new bars, eating and drinking scrumptious beverages while moseying around outside when the weather is so delectable is never a squander in my book.