LaBudde Special Collections | Grand Emporium Collection: Exhibit Gallery

Grand Emporium Collection

Poster Gallery (Thumbnails)

Between July 1985 and June 2004, the Grand Emporium hosted some 7,400 shows and consistently earned top honors locally and nationally, including “Best Blues Club In America” in 1989 and 1991 from the Blues Foundation in Memphis. Though its calling card remained the blues, the Grand Emporium peppered the calendar with everything from local bands to world beats, often boasting live music seven nights a week.

The Grand Emporium Collection houses thousands of posters advertising many of these shows, as well as promotional posters for performers that graced the nightclub's stage. Below are contact sheets (thumbnails) of all the posters in the collection.

Concert Flyers & Posters (#0001-1885)
Oversized & Template Posters (#1886-2658)

 

Description

Tiny Tim (with ukulele), flanked by Grand Emporium co-founders Roger Naber (left) and George Myers, with others in 1996.

ID

Photo: 2218

 

Description

The Grand Emporium always found cause for celebration as this novelty flyer for Roger Naber's birthday illustrates. Naber shared many milestones with the Grand Emporium patron base, including a 1999 event marking his 20th year as a music promoter.

ID

Poster: 0447

 

Description

Formed to support Taj Mahal on a 1993 release, the Phantom Blues Band touts many stellar musicians, yet none more revered by Grand Emporium fans than keyboardist Mike Finnigan. Finnigan - whose credits span from Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland album to a distinguished solo career - has remained a local favorite since the 1960s when he gave up a basketball scholarship at the University of Kansas to pursue music professionally.

ID

Poster: 1774

 

Description

The roots-rock sound of the Morells was a popular draw in the local bar/concert hall scene of the early 1980s. Bassist Lou Whitney and guitarist D. Clinton Thompson, who formed the group in Springfield, Missouri, also provided the nucleus of the Skeletons, a band that got its start as the touring band for Steve Forbert. The Bon-Ton Band became a Kansas City institution as the bawdy Saturday night entertainment at Kiki's Bon Ton Maison, a now-defunct New Orleans-themed restaurant.

ID

Poster: 1114a

 

Description

Stevie Ray Vaughan made his Kansas City debut in summer 1981 after his brother, Fabulous Thunderbirds guitarist Jimmie Vaughan, convinced Roger Naber to give him a shot. Naber, who was working as an independent promoter at the time, booked the young guitar slinger – still relatively unknown outside his native Texas – to play an upstairs barroom called Harling's. Also in the collection is a contract for an August 5, 1981, show at Parody Hall.

ID

Poster: 1113

 

Description

To help local musician and Grand Emporium regular Speedy Huggins celebrate his 80th birthday in style, this flyer asked for donations to "put Speedy on the high seas" aboard the second Ultimate Rhythm And Blues Cruise, an annual event Grand Emporium co-owner George Myers spearheaded in the 1990s.

ID

Poster: 1163

 

Description

Koko Taylor modernized the raw, belting vocals of Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith and Big Mama Thornton to rightfully earn her place in the blues world. Dubbed the "Queen of the Blues," Taylor regularly appeared at the Grand Emporium as well as the Kansas City Blues and Jazz Festival held in Penn Valley Park.

ID

Photo: 1762

 

Description

Throughout the 1990s, Roger Naber handled much of the booking for the original Kansas City Blues & Jazz Festivals held every summer in Penn Valley Park. The 1993 lineup featured, among others, blues guitarist Buddy Guy, seen here in a photo advertisement for that year's event.

ID

Photo: 0892

 

Description

An unusual item to surface in the Grand Emporium collection is this cassette-only release from seminal Wichita, Kansas, quartet Scroat Belly. The rare tracks – including two titles never to resurface on their albums The Great Alaskan Holiday and Daddy's Farm – are the band's only officially released recordings to feature one-time (and fifth) member Steve Barnes on banjo. An amalgam of country, punk, and heavy metal, Scroat Belly spawned the formation of Split Lip Rayfield, a high-octane bluegrass act that has enjoyed national success.

ID

Sounding Recording: Scroat Belly (housed in the Marr Sound Archives)

 

Description

Wilco formed in the aftermath of Uncle Tupelo, the Midwest luminary that helped recast country-rock in the post-punk milieu. This two-page press release from the Grand Emporium Collection traces the origins of the group and promotes their sophomore effort, Being There.

ID

Press Kit: Wilco (box 7, folder 17)

 

Description

Buckwheat Zydeco prohibited the use of the word "Cajun" in promoting his music and typically included a disclaimer in his contract agreements, as seen here for two shows at the Grand Emporium.

ID

Contract: Buckwheat Zydeco (box 8, folder 5)

 

Description

A concert touting blues legends Buddy Guy and Junior Wells should have packed the Grand Emporium most any night. However, turnout was modest for this October 15th show as many locals preferred to watch game six of the 1985 American League playoffs – the year the Kansas City Royals won the World Series.

ID

Contract: Guy, Buddy & Junior Wells (box 8, folder 14)

 

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