Westport security rules cause concern, confusion for performers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Common sense... some Westport performers say that's missing from the district's new security measures.  They say depending on the time it may let a performer in, but keep their instruments out, or it could keep their instruments in without a way to get out.

Most nights during the week you can see live music at The Riot Room. One singer who's been playing at the venue for years says he's never had a problem until last night. Some might consider Jeffrey Sisson's band Hossferatu pretty hardcore, but Sisson says, so are Westport's new security rules.

"I don't think it's been spelled out very well," Sisson said. "I think it's a little cryptic."

He says on September 15 the band finished their set at the venue just before security rules went into effect, and they had to hurry.

"The door's going to be locked at 11, the side door is going to be locked at 11, there's going to be an alarm on, and you can't come in and out," Sisson said.

The band was taking their equipment out to their car when he says they ran into a problem.

"We just got kinda hassled a little bit by the security," Sisson said. "He kinda came out and hassled us to 'get out of my alley. You're blocking my alley, get off my sidewalk.' This isn't the part of the public sidewalk. We were just trying to get our stuff off the street."

The Riot Room is a unique venue in Westport because through it's doorways you can access both the inside and outside of the security zone. The doors on Broadway are outside the area, but if you follow the alley next to the business you end up in the security area next to McCoy's Public House. The Riot Room also has two doors to access their patio and main venue next to Sailor Jack's. The alley is blocked off with gates on Friday and Saturdays when the lockdown starts meaning load in and load out gets tricky.

"They don't want you blocking the sidewalk- I understand that," Sisson said. "I get it. This is the thoroughfare for people, but there's just better ways to handle it."

Sisson says he understands, but doesn't believe the security plan is well thought through.

FOX4 spoke with another performer who had trouble getting their equipment in after 11 p.m.  the first week new security measures went into effect. They said the guards eventually let them in, but told them they needed a 'Westport ID.'

"I don't even know what that is. Never heard of it," Sisson said. "If that's what we need, great. Maybe you should tell someone before they show up at the security gate."

Sisson says music is an essential part of Westport, and putting up barriers for musicians is the last thing the district needs.

"They're not thinking about the impact that it has on the bar, the musicians that play here that bring people down to Westport that want to spend their money. I don't think that was thought of," Sisson said.

FOX4 reached out to both The Westport Business League and Chesley Brown International, the security company used by Westport, but had not heard back at the time of this article. The Riot Room was not available for comment.