Where to begin…
See, there’s this woman who worked her way up through hard charging, powerful partying and blind faith into becoming the most powerful and influential person on the Kansas City jazz scene. She’s from India, of all places and you probably know her as Beena.
For me it’s a bit more complicated…
Because when I first met Beena while I was working at the Kansas City Star, she was a cocktail waitress-turned club manager and about to turn owner of the jazz joint known as Jardine’s just off the Plaza. She married a local blues guitarist named John Brandsgard shortly thereafter and rapidly rose to become one of the most colorful, prolific characters in my column, alongside luminaries such as Craig Glazer, Clay Chastain, Will Gregory, Chris Fritz, Jeff Fortier, Larry Sells and Holly Starr.
In other words, there was almost nothing she wouldn’t do or say to further the interests of the jazz club she loved so dearly. Within reason.
From throwing testy-tempered Karrin Allyson under the bus to you-name-it. In short, Beena was my kinda grrrl.
Now here’s where it gets a bit prickly…
She started out as Beena Brandsgard – simple enough. But then she got divorced, naturally I reported on the D in my column. Then she flew the coup back to India for like four years and when she moved back to KC two years ago, she told me her name was now Beena Rajalekshmi.
So Tony and I faithfully reported on her ensuing trials and tribulations under that name. Trouble is, she never bothered to change it from Brandsgard and ultimately we were forced to abandon ship on "Rajalekshmi" and revert back to calling her "Brandsgard."
Kind of a pain and slightly embarrassing but we survived.
But as of tonight, Beena’s back to her old tricks – she’s changed her name again. Who knows if it’s legit, but who are we to explain to somebody who they actually are?
And so – against my better judgement – I’m here to tell you that there no longer is a Beena Brandsgard nor a Beena Rajalekshmi.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Beena Raja.
"You know, Rajalekshmi is too long," Raja says.
Oh, great, does it stand for anything?
"Raja is like ‘the king’ in India," Raja says. "And Rani is the queen. The real reason I want to change my name again is Brandsgard is kind of a bad karma. So that’s a small step for mankind."
But something approaching a giant leap for the readsers of KC Confidential…