Last Wednesday at the Granada Theatre, I realized Emporia is bringing some great names to turn this quiet town into something entirely new, a place worthy of nationally acclaimed acts.
I have been a fan of the Upright Citizens Brigade after first viewing their short-run television series on Comedy Central, and I had a chance to see members of the UCB Touring Company in Emporia last week. I was treated to several comedians that have graced podcasts and performances on the main UCB stages in New York and Los Angeles, and there was not a moment that I didn’t enjoy the experience. The fact that this sleepy Kansas town had the ability to book them demonstrates that Emporia is moving beyond the small university mindset.
The future promises acts such as the Whiskey Trio, and we can track the trend with past acts like Ha Ha Tonka, rockabilly legends The Reverend Horton Heat and George Winston, a fantastic piano player. Emporia is moving, albeit slowly, to a level that can compete with the larger cities located nearby, and that is a huge relief to a poor college student like me.
I hate driving to Kansas City or Lawrence and paying $20 for a concert, not including the gas and parking, and then trudging back to Emporia in the late evening. I am glad that we are starting to make the transition to some larger names, as Emporia has plenty of places for performers getting off the ground and emerging in their field, like the Granada and Beer:30.
The visiting speakers at ESU have improved over the years as well, including our recent visit from the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. While that may have been more oriented to teachers and educators, the impact remains the same.
With these people coming to Emporia, it not only creates a sense of excitement in a normally docile town, but it opens up our chances to even more college-friendly acts, entertainment and worthwhile political and social figures.
When we complain about how bland this town is and then leave to experience the thunder of our larger cousins, we seem to diminish the ability of Emporia to grow, and even I am guilty of this. But with the recent influx of notable acts, maybe we have helped Emporia grow without even knowing it.