For fans of retro Americana, a Deke Dickerson and the Ecco-Fonics show is the sonic equivalent of a journey back in time. The California trio plays something from every genre of roots-rock Americana that has a clean, echoey guitar sound; that includes rockabilly, Western swing, surf rock, garage and good old rock and roll. The setlist isn't the only retroactive element of the Ecco-Fonics. Deke plays a variety of vintage and custom guitars through an impressive rig of 1950s technology while decked out in an appropriately dated wardrobe. Hell, the merchandise table even looks vintage. Get to the Grand Emporium (3832 Main) around 9 p.m. to catch Nashville's Legendary Shack Shakers and stay for Deke and company. Call 816-531-1504 in advance to save a couple of bucks on tickets.-- Michael Vennard
It's a good place for lounging.
One of the most popular getaways in our neck of the woods is the Elms in Excelsior Springs (816-630-5500). But even though the romantic hotel gets lots of attention in travel magazines, its dim, smoky Library Lounge is still a well-kept secret. Yes, there are actual books in the Library Lounge. Anyone who's ever wanted to get absolutely blitzed in a library is in for a treat -- there's also a full bar. It feels like a three-dimensional incarnation of a Clue game board: dark, elegant and a little over the top. In other words, awesome.
One Saturday in June drew jazz keyboardist Allen Monroe to the venue; he played standards while little old ladies nursing cocktails politely listened. Wayward drunken wedding guests kept requesting Jimmy Buffett and Van Morrison songs, but luckily, it wasn't an all-request show. This weekend's entertainer is Kevin Kline, a country singer.-- Gina Kaufmann
Give a town a sheep, and it will eat for a day. Teach a town to run a woolen mill, and it will pander to highway tourists forever. Twenty minutes northeast of Kansas City rests this country's only nineteenth-century textile mill with original machinery still intact. Tours are available daily. Watkins Mill (816-580-3387) is also home to the Third Annual Fall Music Fest and Back Porch Jam (11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday). Acoustic performances from Forrest Whitlow and the Crash, among others, grace the front porch, and visitors partake in a bluegrass jam on the back porch. Says David Blyth, a performer who also organized the event, "It's just like funerals -- turnout depends on the weather."-- Sarah Smarsh