Sunday, August 27, 2006


Here is a clip of the recent Kansas show from Atlantic City which I neglected to attend. When I lived in New Jersey, I lived closer to AC (I lived near the intersection between Routes 206 and 38), and saw Kansas play there about 5 years ago. AC's about two hours away from where I live now.

I didn't see them in AC because they are playing, 11/18/06 at the Keswick Theater in Glenside PA -- about 35 minutes away -- where I've seen them play twice already. One of those times, I ran into progressive rock fan, and conservative media personality, Michael Smerconish, who told me he too has seen Kansas live countless times.

About Kansas now. Their original violinist, Robby Steinhardt is out. And David Ragsdale, who replaced Steinhardt in the early 90s, is back in. Steinhardt's absence makes the band somewhat less "authentic." But, when established bands replace original members, invariably better technicians (given the nature of the music business, there is no shortage of virtuosos willing to fill a slot in an established band) are brought in to "fill the shoes." And indeed, David Ragsdale is a monster on the violin whose abilities far exceed Steinhardt's. So I'm looking forward to seeing Ragsdale shred.

Original bass player Dave Hope is now a Christian minister. Billy Greer, who played with Steve Walsh's post-Kansas band Streets has been with Kansas for 20 years. And unlike Hope, Greer sings (and quite well).

The other three members -- singer/keys Steve Walsh, drummer Phil Ehart, and guitarist Richard Williams -- are original. The band now has 5-members instead of six. Guitarist/keyboardist Kerry Livgren -- the guy who pretty much wrote all their tunes -- is also a Christian minister and currently plays with a band called Proto-Kaw who are in fact, an earlier version of Kansas (before they had a record contract) recently reunited.

Walsh's voice isn't what it used to be; but Billy Greer picks up a lot of the slack. Because the band has only one keyboardist and because Walsh is a the lead singer as well, the band is less "keyboard heavy." And while Walsh's Kurzweil sounds nice, it doesn't sound nearly as good as the multiple analog keys they used in the 70s (Keith Emerson and Rick Wakemen still use their 70s era analog keyboards, along with newer models).

Here is a clip of Kansas in their 70s era prog-rock glory.

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