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A few days later, The Pitch asked Severson whether the casino had decided not to sponsor the festival. "No comment," she replied.
In the weeks that followed the April 29 meeting, Gilley was reluctant to cancel this year's festival.
He counted the money that had been offered by supporters, including Brotherhood Bank & Trust; Scott Mackey of the Wyandotte Democrats; Johnson County Community College and Kansas City, Kansas, Community College; a couple of local liquor stores; and Mad Jack's Fresh Fish.
He nurtured hopes that the casino might come around, but he says Severson has not returned his calls.
Word of the festival's imminent cancellation got around.
One of the people who heard was a 66-year-old Kansas City, Kansas, native whom All Music Guide has described as "one of the rawest, brassiest, most powerful divas [that funk music has] ever produced."
Marva Whitney's career is too illustrious to sum up here. Highlights: She was a member of the James Brown Soul Revue from 1967 to 1970. During that time, she traveled with Brown on a tour of the Far East, including a perilous visit to Vietnam, and she recorded the Top 20 R&B hit "It's My Thing (You Can't Tell Me Who to Sock It to)." She released other noteworthy singles and a full-length album, appeared with Brown, and had six of her songs featured on the 1997 Universal retrospective James Brown's Original Funky Divas. Hip-hop musicians have sampled her recordings.
Whitney's response to the festival's cancellation could stand for a whole city of artists.
"It's like telling somebody you can't come back to where you were born," she says.
When she was starting out in her career, she says, community performances validated artists like her: "You could invite people to come see that you were about something.
"I've stayed in Wyandotte County all my life," she adds. "It leaves something more to be desired, but those of us who are here, when we have the blues festival, it's a very happy time for us.
"We don't have anything else, so why would you take that away?"
"Dawayne's one of the good guys," says another KCK diva, blues singer Linda Shell.
She portrays Gilley as a unifying agent who doesn't usually broadcast his struggles to put on the festival.
"Musicians would be outraged if they knew the little things he has to do to put on this little festival," she says.
Shell says she and her fellow musicians will be ready for 2011.
"I hope this doesn't discourage him," she says. "If we lose him, we won't have anybody else."
After Gilley gave his acceptance speech at the May 13 tourism awards ceremony, people made overtures of support. Kansas state Rep. Stan Frownfelter of District 31 handed Gilley his card and said he would personally look into the problem.
The next day, Gilley heard of a Public Works committee meeting with the Wyandotte County Commissioners. York had drafted a request that the commissioners update the Unified Government's Code of Ordinances to reflect the 2009 amendment to the Kansas alcohol laws — the temporary permit laws that were discussed at the April 29 meeting.
Not knowing whether the new meeting had been called to deal with the Street Blues Festival, Gilley invited several of his supporters to help raise awareness of the festival's situation.
It turned out that the meeting had nothing to do with the festival — at least, not explicitly.
Sounding concerned about people drinking in the streets, five commissioners asked questions about the amendment. They mentioned several other street festivals — St. Patrick's Day, Polski Day and Cinco de Mayo — before one of them finally brought up what he incorrectly referred to as the "Third Street Jazz Festival."