Two folkies serve up some sass tonight. Alix Olson, who tours the college and club circuits with her award-winning, spoken-word activist routine, is joined by guitar girl Pamela Means, a self-described "biracial, queer American female fighting for social change and revolution." Olson and Means have similar far-left political views. But whereas Means has been known to bust a hole in her six-string, Olson uses a little sweet-and-fuzzy to expose her own vulnerability. Olson grew up in a political household, where she says her parents' allies were "warm and funny," not pissed at the universe. "I always assumed those qualities went hand-in-hand with caring about the world," Olson says. "The idea of the angry activist has got to be a farce, intended to keep us from doing our work, because I don't know any of those."
Olson's poetry certainly isn't mean-spirited -- it veers between beautiful and raunchy, covering topics as predictable as corporate America and as fun as the advantages of armpit hair. Happy delivery aside, there is no denying the following, no matter how hard we try: Put Means' choppy guitar behind Olson's schizophrenic vocal patterns, and you've got yourself something that sounds almost exactly like Ani DiFranco.
Nonetheless, Olson has been called "an ingenious poet" by the likes of leftist hero Howard Zinn. Her new CD, Independence Meal (on which Means provides guitar), is already being pumped on Linda Wilson's Woman Song program on KKFI 90.1.
For tickets, which cost $12 to $15, call 816-960-4636. The show starts at 8 p.m. at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, 4501 Walnut Street. -- Sarah Smarsh
Whether Saturday afternoons are a bore or a blur, the weekly wine tastings at Garrett's Corner Market may be the antidote. From noon to 3 p.m., former American Restaurant assistant sommelier Kathleen Lahey facilitates tastings that, not coincidentally, are tied to discounts from the sampled vintners. "Sometimes there's a theme, sometimes not," says the Market's Glenn Reynolds. "Recently, we had wines from Australia and New Zealand with the sign saying 'Come With Us Down Under.' And we've done patio wines." Kansas City sippers seem to be more drawn to wines in the $8 to $15 range, Reynolds says, noting that bottles costing more than $20 sell more slowly. Don't worry -- the tasting is free. For more information, call 816-472-4426. -- Steve Walker
Thu & Sat
Stores that sell unusual paper, fuzzy yarn and buttons are inspiring. The problem is, we don't know what to do with these materials. We know we want to do something, but we're of the generation that didn't have home ec. Fortunately, Urban Arts and Crafts (507 Walnut) offers classes on how to make things into other things. Classes include Altered Books (personalizing children's board books with collage) at 9 a.m. Saturday and The "Blue" Bag, a slightly advanced session on knitting handbags, at 6 p.m. Thursday. (Students should come with a preknit rectangle.) If knitting a handbag is too much, there's Crochet Basics for Beginners at 1 p.m. Saturday. For details, call 816-234-1004. -- Gina Kaufmann
Since Kansas City hosted the first National Cancer Survivors Day Rally in 1986, there have been more than 700 such rallies nationwide. The event, which takes place at the Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Survivors Park from 1 to 3 p.m., celebrates the lives of people diagnosed with cancer who have survived. Music lovers can go for the performance by jazz quintet Vince Bilardo and the Young Lions, and fans of local anchorpersons can see their favorite talking heads in person -- Phil Witt, Larry Moore, Anne Peterson and Cynthia Newsome are all scheduled speakers. For information, call 816-932-8373.-- Andrew Humphrey