In the late 70s, Kansas ruled the radio waves with songs like “Carry On My Wayward Son” and “Dust In The Wind.”
Four decades later these songs can still be heard emanating from jukebox speakers and car stereos all over the world, not to mention being covered by numerous artist over the years and regularly featured on soundtracks (“Carry On My Wayward Son” has played in every season finale of “Supernatural,” and who could forget Will Ferrel’s touching rendition of “Dust In The Wind” in “Old School”).
Kansas came together in Topeka, Kan., in 1970, made up of members of other notable area bands. After a few lineup shuffles, the band – then comprised of drummer Phil Ehart, bassist Dave Hope, Kerry Livgren (guitars/keys), violinist/vocalist Robby Steinhardt, Steve Walsh (keys, congas) and guitarist Rich Williams – released the band’s self-titled debut album in March of 1974. The record featured what would become the band’s signature sound: Heartland Rock, a blend of rock and jazz with progressive arrangements but a penchant for catchiness.
Two years later Kansas dropped “Leftoverture.” The album feature the band’s classic single, “Carry On My Wayward Son,” and went on to be the group’s biggest release, selling 5 million copies in the U.S. Following close on the heels of “Leftoverture,” came “Point of Know Return.” The album featured “Dust In the Wind,” and would go on to be certified quadruple platinum.
The band would suffer from creative differences and lineup changes through the 80s. The group would briefly disband between 1984 and 1985. The group would continue touring and recording following the reformation, though certain members would come and go. Heavy touring in the 2000s would give Kansas a second wind. To date, the group has amassed three sextuple platinum albums, eight gold albums and a million-selling gold single, “Carry On My Wayward Son.”
The current lineup of Kansas includes Ehart, Williams – each have been with the group since its inception in the early 70s. Greer is still on the bass. Ragsdale, who has also performed with The Smashing Pumpkins and prog-rock power house Queensrÿche, provides the iconic violin lines, and recent additions Ronnie Platt and David Manion take care of keyboard and vocal duties.
In recent years, the band has taken to performing backed by large symphony orchestras. It has also been inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. Earlier this year, the band’s latest release, “Miracles Out Of Nowhere,” debuted at 67 on the Billboard Top 200 chart.
David Wild, reviewing the album for “Rolling Stone,” said, “‘Miracles Out Of Nowhere’ is the unlikely yet true story of a great band that came out of the Heartland, and made rock & roll history that’s so much more than dust in the wind,” solidifying that Kansas is no one-hit-wonder.
Warming up the crowd for Kansas will be Cincinnati-based cover band After Midnight. After Midnight recreate classic 70s tunes from everyone from Styx to Led Zeppelin.
The concert will be at the Glover Pavilion in Central Park at 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 26, rain or shine. Kansas will take the stage at 8 p.m. Admission is free. With rain in the forecast for the day of the event, concert-goers are encouraged to bring rain gear.