By Kady Cramer
Oscar Polk and his Allstar Band will perform on his driveway of 10901 Holmes Road for the festivities of Make Music Day, June 21. Representing South Kansas City, the band will be performing their “Live on the Drive” concert from 5:30 to 8 p.m.
Oscar Polk’s The Oscar Polk Allstar Band contains some of Kansas City’s most respected and well-known musicians, including three members of the Kansas Music Hall of Fame. Performing on saxophone will, of course, be Oscar Polk, alongside Terry Hancock on drums/vocals, Dennis Laffoon on keyboard/vocals, Terry Swope on guitar/vocals, Andy Dewitt on bass/vocals, and Lupe Munoz on percussion/vocals.
First picking up the saxophone at the age of 12, Polk’s career has brought him all the way to the Kansas Hall of Fame. Playing together off and on in different bands throughout the years, the group played restaurants and events—including performing in the Chiefs Ambassador tent for over six years.
When the first COVID shutdowns hit in early 2020, the band decided to adapt by taking their performances in-house, or more specifically, outside the house.
With all health precautions in place, the band went on to perform 19 gigs of “Live on the Drive” without anyone knowingly getting sick. The performances averaged 150 people per show, topping out at 225 guests during a single show. Polk’s estimate had somewhere between 3,000 to 4,000 people turning out in total.
“People were in the driveway, across the street on sidewalks, on benches,” Polk said of that initial run. “The people across the street would let you just lay your blanket out in their yard. It was the way things should be in life where everybody just got along and just set back and enjoyed themselves. That’s what we’re looking for—to have a good time and for everyone else to have a good time.”
Held on the summer solstice, Make Music Day is a celebration of live music held around the world in more than 1,000 cities in 120 countries. Completely different from a typical music festival, Make Music is open to anyone who wants to take part. Every kind of musician — young and old, amateur and professional — pours onto streets, parks, plazas, and porches to share their music with friends, neighbors, and strangers.
Mayor Quinton Lucas first proclaimed June 21 as “Make Music Day KC” in June of 2021, making it the first year Kansas City officially participated in the world-wide event.
“We celebrate our community, we celebrate our talent, we celebrate our culture,” Lucas said of the event. “Through Make Music Day, we get to do that in connection with all of the wonderful, talented people here in Kansas City and throughout the region.”
All Make Music events are free and open to the public. Bring your own lawn chairs or blankets. Park friendly. Ride share if possible. Interested fans can also catch the Oscar Polk and the Allstar Band every second Saturday of each month from 8 to 11 p.m. at Barrio in the Red Bridge Shopping Center.