Blind Boone in Warrensburg
Blind Boone performs at the Empire Theatre
On January 5, 1884, Blind Boone and his concert company performed at the Empire Theatre. Ellie Fike, daughter of Henry C. Fike, who operated the Eureka Mills north of town, attended the concert with her mother and wrote about it in her diary:
"This evening Ma and I went to hear William John Boone (col[ored]) play at Empire Opera House. His performing is perfectly wonderful. Full house. His mother "Aunt Rachel" (our washwoman) is so proud of him, and has just cause to be so."
A months later, in July of 1884 Boone returned to the theater for two performances on July 28th and July 29th.
Boone returned to the Empire Theatre in April of 1889. The Johnson County Star reviewed the performance:
"In addition to her many other famous productions, Warrensburg has a musical prodigy in the person of Blind Boone who is already achieving a national reputation...His visits are hailed with delight by the musical part of the community...."
"His selections embrace a wide range of subjects , from the highest productions of the classical schools to the simple and touching melodies of the unlettered plantation negro. Of the former class, the "Dying Swan" and the "Last Hope" by Gottschalk, and the Hungarian Rhapsody by Listz, were well calculated to please the most cultivated, while the "Gospel Train" and other songs in the serio-comic negro dialect and the wonderfully melodious negro tunes to which they were sung, were highly appreciated by the popular ear. "Kentucky Home," "Dixie," and the riotous melody of the "Carnival of Venice," played to Boone's own variations were very pleasing. He imitates on his piano the sound of any musical instrument he ever heard, and plays the most difficult music readily after having heard it for the first time. His "Marshfield Tornado" is a wonderful production, but would perhaps be more artistic if he would omit the explanations and leave the imagination of the hearer to follow the progress of the great tornado. The low murmur of the swift-coming storm-cloud grows louder and louder till it drowns out the hymn of the worshippers on that sultry Sabbath afternoon, and breaks in terrible fury over the town. Then comes the awful crash and ruin; in the midst is heard the clang of the fire bells; and after a few moments the storm subsides, the clouds roll away in the distance, and drip, drip, drip go the rain drops as they fall into the gutters from the eaves of the roof. All this is seen and heard as one sits under the spell cast over the audience by the flying fingers of the musician."