Mark DuFresne pays his respects.

Shout Out 

Mark DuFresne pays his respects.

SAT 5/7
Famed Kansas City bluesman Big Joe Turner got his start by belting out lyrics -- with no microphone -- while he was pouring drinks at swinging downtown nightspots in the late '20s. Once he was discovered, Turner moved about the country for the next 50 years recording blues, swing, boogie-woogie and jazz platters in every regional style that he could find. Given Turner's pan-American discography, it makes sense that the Kansas City Blues Society has chosen Mark DuFresne to honor the great shouter Saturday at the inaugural Big Joe Turner Birthday Bash. The most recent lead singer and harp blower for Roomful of Blues, a decades-old blues revival group with wide-ranging chops that can do justice to any variety of the genre, DuFresne is a capable choice for re-creating the Turner standards. The party, which also includes performances by Linda Shell, Cotton Candy and Tom Trashmouth Baker, starts at 4 p.m. at B.B.'s Lawnside Bar-B-Que (1205 East 85th Street). Admission is $10; call 816-822-7427. -- Michael Vennard

On a Rail
All aboard A Gathering of Gangsters.

5/5-7/9
Seventy years before Kansas City had its first gangsta, it was teeming with gangsters, the kind whose bling consisted of white spats and fedoras. The Mystery Train, a new theater troupe that promises a season of interactive mysteries, revisits that past with its kickoff production, A Gathering of Gangsters, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Union Station (30 West Pershing Road). "I've performed in murder mysteries in the past and fell in love with how central Union Station is to Kansas City's history," says producer Wendy Thompson. The show is set in 1933, the year of the infamous massacre named for the station. In addition to the three professional actors, audience members take on such roles as a fortuneteller, a paleontologist and a laundress. (Thompson says the latter "launders more than money, if you know what I mean.") Performances continue through July 9; for tickets, call 816-813-9654 -- Steve Walker

In Check

5/5-5/8
"Gingham Shift" -- item of clothing from the J. Crew catalog or world-premiere ballet? This season, it's the latter. Set to bluegrass music by bassist Edgar Meyer and banjo man Bela Fleck, the piece opens the Kansas City Ballet's spring program, Ballets for Music Lovers. We've always thought that modern dance was set to more avant-garde music, but clearly we were wrong. In other works, Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu blends traditional Japanese instruments (such as the bamboo flute) with John Cage-influenced experimentation as the musical backdrop for "Haven," choreographed by KCB artistic director William Whitener. Love the music but fear the dance? Whitener hosts informal discussions an hour before each performance, Thursday through Sunday at the Lyric Theatre (1029 Central). Call 816-931-2232 for tickets. -- Rebecca Braverman

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