For Kansas, There’s Know Place like Home – But They’re Happy To Be On The Road

Written by on May 13, 2010 in DVD Reviews, May 13, 2010 - Comments Off on For Kansas, There’s Know Place like Home – But They’re Happy To Be On The Road

Kansas: Seminal Prog-rockers visit the Southland for two shows on May 18 and 19.

KansasDO YOU REMEMBER what you were doing thirty-five years ago (okay, I realize there are many of you reading this they may not even be 35 years of age), but as for the rest of us out there…?? I do…it was my senior year of college, and other than sports and girls, music was the most important thing in my life (some things never change…!). Amongst the many bands that my music pals and I listened to (everything from the New York Dolls and T Rex to ZZ Top and Status Quo), there was a band called Kansas, whose unique rock-edged mix of guitar, violin, and multi-vocal melodies on songs such as “Dust In The Wind,” “Point of Know Return,”and “Carry On Wayward Son” stood out from just about any other band we listened to.

FAST FORWARD TO 2010, and Kansas guitarist Rich Williams can tell you HE’s happy to be doing what he was doing in 1974, which is the first year the group from Topeka, Kansas first formed. “It was a hobby that turned into a career…that turned into a lifetime,” said Williams by phone, before the first of two shows by the band in the Southland (May 18 at Gibson Amphitheater in Universal City; May 19 at Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario; both with Styx and Foreginer on the bill).As for trying to explain the longetivity and success of the band? “The Baby Boomers grew up…and this is their music,” says the humble Williams. “This is what they want to hear.” Williams credits the Guitar Hero video game series (“we got a huge boost from that”) while noting that “kids have also discovered classic rock in their own musical journeys. They’re tired of being force-fed music on the radio.”

WHICH TAKES US TO “THERE’S KNOW PLACE LIKE HOME,” a live DVD released last October commorating the bands thirty-fifth anniversary. The title of the DVD – recorded in the band’s home state at Washburn University’s White Concert Hall with the school’s full fifty-piece orchestra – is, as it appears, a play on the famed Wizard of Oz movie, “something we always fought as a band. Now it makes sense, “explains Williams, who notes the inclusion on the 19-song DVD of onetime members Kerry Livgren (guitar, keyboards) and Steve Morse (guitar). Three of the members of Kansas also attended the college, adding, “Livegren lives in Topeka, so to have him involved again was a natural,” says Williams.  How has the band been able to weather the challenge of touring and recording for almost four decades? “It was hard in the beginning…but any differences we had, have long since been resolved,” exsplains Williams, concluding with these words of wisdom: “Just surround yourself with people you can get along with.”

(Kansas, Styx and Foreigner In Concert – Tuesday, May 18, 7:15 p.m./Gibson Amphitheater@Universal City Walk, Universal City; (866) 459-2035 or www.gibson.boxofficecenter.com for tickets/info. The same three bands also perform on Wednesday, May 19, 7:00 p.m./Citizens Bank Arena, Ontario; (909) 244-5600 or www.cbbankarean.com for tickets/info.