Here in Independence, the tornado sirens went off and everyone took cover. Hey, this is new for me; I’m from Ohio, where tornadoes pose about as much threat as the Cleveland Browns on a good day.

Wow – that was close.

 Here in Independence, the tornado sirens went off and everyone took cover. Hey, this is new for me; I’m from Ohio, where tornadoes pose about as much threat as the Cleveland Browns on a good day.

When the sirens started, I bolted home for the dogs – all three of them scared to death of intense storms. The house is an architectural miracle, so there was that: cement as its foundation with steel beam supports throughout. A housing inspector once joked that you could most likely lead a herd of elephants through the living room and out the back with no problem.

When the storm passed, I went back upstairs and resumed work. The column! Oh, yes, since the world didn’t end on Saturday as so predicted by an Oakland, Calif., man and his Christian radio show, I had to write the column that last week I said goodbye to forever.

 With all the loss of life and destruction in Missouri this past week, I’m thinking that people need to sit down and consider getting out more while they still can. That’s right – venture beyond their routine radius and see the sights, hear the sounds and, for want of a better term, touch the tiger. From where I come from, it took about an hour to get to any metropolitan area, a damaging condition because there was so much I didn’t see and experience growing up.

Here you have Kansas City less than a half hour away, a world at your fingertips. I’ve always been a bit mystified that many people in Eastern Jackson County don’t venture downtown.

One Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce representative told me in a stifled whisper just yesterday: “People around here… they don’t leave. They don’t go downtown. Why? There’s more to the area than Blue Springs.”

Don’t get me wrong, suburban communities have plenty to offer. But big acts and big-time entertainers come to cities. And on June 3, a pretty popular band making the rounds is coming to the City Market in Kansas City for a sold-out show.

Described as whimsical, irreverent, and just plain original, the band Cake has made a name for itself for not only its music, described as a fusion of jazz, rockabilly and funk, but also for earth-saving and preservation efforts.

I caught up with Cake guitarist Xan McCurdy recently. McCurdy joined the band after lead guitarist Greg Brown left in 1998. Before then, McCurdy opened for Cake with his old band, and he immediately fell in love with Cake, which he described as a “strange art project” and “domineering.” What attracted him most was the often bracing but almost reassuring presence of a trumpet and consistent bass line.

Their newest offering, “Showroom of Compassion,” has found both compassionate ears among critics and audiences, climbing the charts steadily since its release in January.

Conscious of the earth’s limited resources, band members constructed a recording studio powered entirely by solar energy. Having grown up in the Oakland and Berkeley, Calif., areas, McCurdy is no stranger to progressive attitudes and efforts.

“It has to happen,” McCurdy said of “green” efforts – for lack of a better word.  

While he realizes not everyone can finance a solar-operated home (even a recording studio), he said all people in all corners of the globe must make an effort to conserve and protect the earth.  

And yet here’s where the humor inherent in Cake’s music leaks through: McCurdy’s own willingness to poke fun at himself and the band. And its apparent contradictions.

“It’s rough having a band,” he said. “You burn a lot of jet fuel and leave a lot of trash in your wake. We’re just trying to offset that by doing our part, and this (the studio) is part of it.”

A couple years ago The Examiner did a huge series on the Green movement. It was an eye-opener for me. As a result of that series, I’ve kicked it up a notch: I recycle and pick up litter when I see it.  

McCurdy and band members – John McCrea, Vince DiFiore, Gabe Nelson, Paulo Baldi – try and do their part as well. During each show, the band gives away a tree on stage.

“Something local, something native to that area,” he said. “We prefer a fruit-bearing tree.”

McCurdy played in Kansas City once before and found the audience very receptive, very willing to groove and get down. I wonder what kind of audience he’ll find next week when he steps on stage? With tornadoes wreaking havoc in Joplin and threatening our lives and livelihood here in Eastern Jackson County, will concert-goers be timid, looking over their shoulders for any sign of rain?

I hope they don’t. But I have a feeling that McCurdy and his band mates will bring everyone out of their Midwestern Tornado Funk for at least a couple of hours.