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Best of Kansas City

Arts & Entertainment

Best Music Promoter 

Dawayne Gilley

Over the first oppressively hot weekend of the summer, in a sweltering parking lot at a ragged intersection in Kansas City, Kansas, a crowd of people living on the edge of everything found relief in classic Kansas City style: listening to the blues. Two whole sweaty days of it, with musicians ranging from the high-school kids in Leon Brady's Youth All Stars to this year's Queen of the Festival, Diane "Mama" Ray, who for 25 years has hosted the city's longest-running regular jam session. It was a massive roster of the city's best homegrown talent. Under a protective cloud of smoke from barbecue tents, the music moved bodies, soothed souls, encouraged the races to mix, and sanctified the struggle. Making it happen almost every year (the "almost annual" festival took a year off in 2007) is Dawayne Gilley, the modest, hardworking president of the Kansas City, Kansas, Street Blues Festival. Because he keeps the focus on the music rather than on himself, he probably doesn't get thanked enough, so we're doing it now. And sorry that we want you to work harder, Dawayne, but this festival should happen every weekend.

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