If someone were to build a museum exhibit of instruments most people find strange, it would probably be filled from end to end with double-necked guitars. As for Mountain Music Shoppe owner and collector Jim Curley, he'd gladly put up his pianolin or bassoguitar -- both of which are on display at the Bingham-Waggoner Historical Society's Mountain Music exhibit. "These days, you walk into any music store and can easily recognize all the instruments," Curley says. "I collect odd. What I'm looking for are those instruments that people look at and have no idea what it is." Curley's collection of odd gives viewers a glimpse of everything from old Americana to Old World. Highlights include a vaudeville-era, gold-plated musical saw (from "back when they played them with mallets") and a singing treholippe -- that is, a ukulele with a bent spear for a neck so that surfers could stick it in the sand when a wave came in. "They're pretty rare, because surfers would come back and find someone had walked off with them," Curley says.
In a setting like the nineteenth-century Bingham-Waggoner Estate (313 West Pacific in Independence), where curators work to keep the spirit of an era alive, the exhibit is as much about history as about musical oddities. "It's one big lesson for me," Curley notes. "With each old instrument I get, I spend years researching, learning more about music and musicians of the time. History's a lot more fun with an instrument in your hand."
The Mountain Music exhibit runs until July 31 at the Bingham-Waggoner Historical Society. To get there, take I-70 East to Noland Road and go north on Noland; when you see the old cemetery, you're almost there. Call 816-461-3491 for information.-- Christopher Sebela
Appreciating America means appreciating all of America -- even Florida. Seafood lovers might have noticed a few things Florida has that we, sadly, do not: crab, lobster and shrimp. Anyone who feels intimidated yet intrigued by the signs advertising Crabs on Broadway (3601 Broadway) should check it out this weekend. It's a summery destination with fishing nets hanging from the ceiling and oceanic scenes painted on the walls. In the women's restroom is a grinning fish wearing glasses; in the men's room is not a fish but a mermaid. Comparing bathrooms might be most appropriate over a Flirtini at the bar. The restaurant reopens Saturday after a Fourth of July hiatus. For information, call 816-531-6199.-- Gina Kaufmann
Quirky gallery owner Tom Deatherage of Late Show fame always takes an unusual approach to his art exhibits, but he's really outdone himself this time, with a Fourth of July opening in ... a dentist's office. Housed in the Crossroads Dental Arts Building (formerly the Leedy Voulkos building) at 1819 Wyandotte, the office of Daniel Fleming, D.D.S.P.C., is now taking patients and artists alike. This month, Deatherage is showing two paintings by each of the artists who regularly display their stuff in his Hyde Park home. Who knows -- maybe visitors can get lollipops on their way out, if they're good. Doors open at 6 p.m. For information, call 816-531-8044.-- Kaufmann
After the pomp of this holiday weekend, citizens might be itching to stop singing about democracy and actually participate in it. One option for political activism: a Criminal Justice Task Force meeting. The anti-death-penalty group works with the Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and Catholic Charities Restorative Justice; together, they address pending death sentences, fight for legislative change and even provide support for people whose loved ones are incarcerated. The free meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at St. Luke's United Church of Christ (727 Main Street in Independence). For information, call 816-453-2499.-- Sarah Smarsh