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All photos by Anna Selle, except the MixMaster photo by Mica-Elgin Vi.

Crossroads Music Fest is an annual celebration of the breadth of talent found in Kansas City. A fundraiser for KKFI 90.1FM, CMF features dozens of artists ranging from hip hop, to country, to traditional Balinese Gamelan, and everything in between. Here are the five things we loved most about the 14th annual Crossroads Music Fest:

The VIP Lounge

We can’t always boast about the quality of festival VIP lounges, but the experience at CMF was unbelievable! Positioned in the Hilliard Gallery – a sprawling art space in the heart of the city – the VIP lounge was full of food, booze, and tunes. A spread of tasty food from Californos, charming bartenders from Midwest Music Foundation, and a breathtaking performance by Krystle Warren culminated into the VIP experience.

Drum Lines and Drill Teams

For the past several years, CMF has always featured a performance from one of Kansas City’s notable drumlines, the Marching Cobras. This year, the festival kicked off with not only the Cobras, but also the Marching Falcons and the Broadway Drill Team.  The dynamic trio entertained a growing swarm of fans. As the cool air swept through the streets, thunderous sounds rattled from the parking lot of Lead Bank signaling the start of the fest.

MixMaster Music Conference

Silly Goose Records spearheads the MixMaster conference. In conjunction with CMF, MixMaster’s goal is to connect local industry professionals with young, eager, and growing musicians. With panels like Audience Development, How To Get People To Write About Your Music (a panel featuring our own Savanna Howland), Demo Dip (a panel featuring our own Stevie Ervay) and more, there’s plenty of knowledge to go around.

A Tour Around The World

A major focus of CMF is to spotlight the diverse talent in Kansas City and neighboring areas. The 2018 lineup featured the likes of Gamelan Genta Kasturi, Cubanisms, Ayllu, SUNU, and more. You don’t really think that you’d find these exotic sounds in the heart of the midwest, but here they are, and they’re good. Really good. Each act brings intense talent and a distinct attitude to their performance.

Homegrown Talent

Alongside the incredible “world music” acts are more hometown acts like Cowtown Country Club, Brandon Phillips & The Condition, Hi Lux, My Oh My!, and many others. What sets performances at CMF apart from just any other local club show is the caliber of the performance. Instant Karma and Chris Hazelton combined forces to perform as their new project, The Freedom Affair. Radkey performed with Quixotic. Hembree brought their dads on stage for a couple of songs. Sauce incorporated saxophone into his hip hop set. The passion these artists pour into their show is palpable.