KC Irish Fest: Inside the music and dance with Annie Stark

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For the 20th anniversary of the Kansas City Irish Festival (which starts today), we wanted to take a closer look at the traditions embedded in Irish heritage. That’s why we’re introducing you to Annie Starkan Irish fiddle player + dancer — and her band, Jump-2-3.

Q: How did you get started?

I’m at least the third generation Irish dancer in my family [...] When my mom went into labor, she had taken her VHS of River Dance, and she was watching it in the room and all the nurses were coming in and out watching it with her, so I just grew up watching River Dance.

Q: What’s KC’s Irish community like from your perspective?

We have a really strong community.

Annie credited Browne’s (which is where we met her), the Irish Center, the parade committee, the Irish Festival, plus dance schools, music sessions, and community Irish artists.

My family is from Seattle, but the Irish immigrants on my side actually worked the railroads in Kansas City before settling in Seattle, so it’s kind of funny that we ended up here [...] I feel like the Irish community just kind of scooped us up when we got here.

Q: Your band name is based on Irish dance, right?

Yes, we play for dancers [...] We started as a céilí band (Irish word for “party”), which means we’re just the live music for the dancing, and then we just never stopped because we’re having lots of fun.

Note: The Jump-2-3 move is one of the first moves taught to Irish dancers.

Jump-2-3 is made up of four artists:

  • Annie Stark, fiddle + dance
  • Chris Carr, whistles + flutes
  • Rae Bowerman, bodhran, vocals
  • Bill Morris: guitar, bouzouki, vocals

Here’s when they’re playing at the Jameson Whiskey Stage:

  • Fri., Sept. 2, 9:30 p.m.
  • Sat., Sept. 3, 3 p.m. + 9:30 p.m.

About Irish Fest

Kansas City Irish Fest starts today and goes through Sun., Sept. 4 at Crown Center downtown KC. The annual celebration brings ~80,000 people from around the world and celebrates Kansas City’s rich Irish heritage.

What to expect | Visit the website

  • 300+ musicians, dancers, and comedians from across the Celtic world
  • KC band The Elders come out of retirement t o headline on Sunday
  • Kids’ activities
  • Art vendors
  • Genealogy

Tickets | Purchase here

  • $35 for an adult single-day ticket
  • $70 for an adult weekend pass
  • Additional tickets for whisky tastings, the Irish comedy show (which we recommend), and the Sunday morning Irish breakfast
  • Child tickets are discounted
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