After years of waiting out the pandemic, the Kansas Music Hall of Fame returned to an in-person ceremony on Saturday night. The ceremony returned with a celebration at Liberty Hall, showcasing a host of musical acts and nominees. But if you’re like us, you selfishly want to see more of the musicians you’ve come to know and love make the list. Luckily, the organization just made it a lot easier.
Artists now only have to have been living and playing in Kansas for 20 years (it was previously 20). That means if you started playing professionally in 2004, you could potentially make it into next year’s induction. From what we understand, you can sign up for a membership (as low as $25 per year), which gives you voting power when nominations are submitted.
Selfishly, we want to see more Lawrence acts on the bill. Last year we were blessed to introduce the Alferd Packer Memorial String Band for their virtual induction. This year, Get Smart made it. Because Get Smart played a recent, one-off reunion show, they were eligible. So as far as we can tell, the rules are pretty relaxed to be included in a list of nominees.
Some of the artists inducted on Saturday night were phenomenal (as expected when you’ve been playing professionally for decades). Lander Ballard (Wichita) is an insanely good guitarist and captivated the audience right from the start. Sam Bidwell’s (Wichita) honky-tonk is to die for, and Get Smart! (Lawrence) were punk as fuck. One fan favorite, The Group (Topeka), brought a lively horn section and charismatic vocalist along. But we couldn’t help but notice a lack of diversity in the lineup Saturday night. Saturday night’s ceremony included a nod to all the nominees from the virtual celebrations over the last three years– and while those years included people of color, generally the induction list is severely lacking in that area. An easy fix for this? Sign up and become a member, and use your power to vote.