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When it was time for the public to speak, Gilley sat down in front of the microphone and outlined the trouble he had been facing.
"It's always been free and peaceful," he said, receiving nods from friends.
Next, Kansas City (Missouri) Blues Society President Jerry Thompson tried to convey the festival's importance.
"I'd like to make sure you guys realize it brings a lot of tourism to your area," he said, looking nervous at having to address a governing body.
The commissioners voted to take no action but to forward the proposal on to the full commission. "The buck has effectively been passed," Commissioner Mark Holland said.
Afterward, Gilley's people, including his girlfriend, blues festival board member Cathy Ramirez, showed Sooter pictures from previous festivals.
The Pitch asked Sooter what it would take to keep the Street Blues Festival going.
"Just follow what we've suggested," Sooter said. He produced a color satellite printout of the site at 13th Street and State, and talked about fencing off the grounds, having a licensed beverage vendor and not allowing people to bring their own drinks. Or moving it back to Kaw Point Riverfront Park.
"We're trying to get him squared away," Sooter said of Gilley.
Gilley told Sooter that he wished the city would have let him know sooner that his festival had been violating the law. Sooter equivocated, saying that Gilley had come to Sooter's office in the fall but they had never arranged a proper meeting with the Kansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Division. (Gilley claims that he never met with Sooter.)
Gilley and Thompson left City Hall and drove to the Street Blues Festival's original grounds at Third and Parallel.
They parked alongside a vacant lot just north of the former Club Paradox, now a juke joint called the Hole in the Wall that's looking to reopen for special events.
A few people milled about or sat in chairs on the patios of small row houses in the housing project across the street. Farther down the street, a woman talked on her cell phone as she entered the neighborhood's dilapidated liquor store, its dim neon sign glowing behind a thick window screen the only indication that it's a place of business.
The people watched as Gilley stood on the double yellow lines in the middle of the street, spreading his arms to show where the stage had been set up those first five years.
From a chair on a porch across the street, a woman called out to Gilley, "When are you gonna bring the festival back down here?"
Two young women were standing beside her. By her foot, on the ground, were a low-ball glass and a can of cheap beer.
"I don't know, baby," he answered. "We're trying to work that out with the city."