It's as sure as the sloping wooden floors, the red-and-white-checked tablecloths, the excess of poultry and the warmth of the buns. If you've eaten at Stroud's (1015 East 85th Street, 816-333-2132) any Thursday through Sunday over the past fourteen years, you've heard pianist Luther Wilson. He's a selfless performer, providing accompaniment for your mashed potatoes while you laugh, shake ice cubes in your glass and clank your silverware. He won't stand up and ask for your applause, either, not even after a low-key rendition of some poppy Billy Joel song. But we thought it was high time we said thanks.
Stroud's is open until 10 p.m. The later it is, the less crowded it is. The less crowded it is, the better you can hear the songs. One cold night, you'll huddle around a table with some pals, ordering a round of Bailey's to go with your buns, and an old couple in the corner will start clapping to Luther's music. Maybe you'll join in.-- Gina Kaufmann
Little Bo Creep
Martin City Melodrama presents Nursery Crimes.
It's the Martin City Melodrama & Vaudeville Co.'s second winter at the Metcalf South mall (9601 Metcalf in Overland Park), and the troupe is averse to letting the holidays go by without tongue planted firmly in cheek. This weekend marks the close of Mother Goose's Nursery Crimes, a musical murder mystery capped by the company's popular Water Glass Symphony. The latter involves music created by eight actors who finesse their fingertips around the lips of dozens of glasses, each containing a musically precise level of liquid. "They're tuned every day, because as the water evaporates, the notes change," says Jon Copeland, associate artistic director. "But it's amazing that you can get good sound from a normal household object." The play features Ray Ettinger as a financially strapped Mother Goose whose production of a musical goes homicidally awry. Call 913-642-7576 for tickets.-- Steve Walker
If your New Year's resolution is -- like ours -- to get drunk more often, live music in dive bars might be the perfect enabling force. Performing Tuesday at Bender's (1118 McGee), the band Koala Bear Syndrome, which hails from St. Joseph, Missouri, asks only a $3 cover for access to its jangly serenades. Still glowing from the addition of a second guitarist, the quartet stitches together lo-fi indie shoe-gazing and raucous quasipunk. Bender's, a storefront bar with a mix-and-match décor (including a pool table doubling as center stage), is an ideal venue for the hodgepodge sound. If Koala Bear Syndrome alone doesn't do it for you, the cheap drinks and plush booths ought to help. For information, call 816-221-7722.-- Christopher Sebela