Without Kansas, the world may have never known the joy and exhilaration of “air guitar” and “arena rock.” With that in mind, Pittsburgh welcomes Kansas to the Carnegie Library Music Hall in Munhall with special guests Bishop Clay and Silent Partner on Friday (air guitar optional).
“Pittsburgh is one of the first big cities that gave us a good start,” said guitarist Rich Williams. “I remember how we once played a show with Styx and they couldn’t make the show and were going to cancel, but no one wanted refunds. We wound up doing the show ourselves and realized what a strong fan-base we had here. Pennsylvania accepted us long before even our home state.”
Considered one of the greatest classic rock bands, Kansas has spent more than 39 years producing albums, touring and re-inventing the way we hear our favorite songs. For a classic rock group with so many number one hits, Williams doesn’t see the point in continuing a quest for constant new music and would rather focus the group’s efforts on what fans want to hear and continue to surprise them with new sounds.
“It’s tough to go to the studio and manufacture an album the radio won’t play,” said Williams. “That’s just the reality of the business. That’s why we re-invent, like with the symphony, and just play what people want to hear and present it in different ways.”
The symphony concerts are just one of the many ways Kansas keeps their music fresh because it’s simply not the same old songs day after day. While changing things up is a great way to keep songs fresh, for some tracks like the instantly recognizable "Dust in the Wind" celebrating the 35th anniversary simply must happen in style.
As part of the celebration, Kansas produced a limited-edition gift book released with song lyrics, personal stories from fans and a forward by Kerry Livgren. While these books make great collectibles, the true story is that a portion of the proceeds from each book will benefit Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization.
“Everyone knows someone anymore that is affected by Autism,” said Williams. “More than 100 kids are born every day autistic. This is helping to get awareness out and trying to find a cure.”
Backed by a slew of hit albums, DVDs and other special moments, Kansas will certainly wow the fans with an amazing live experience. The years have been kind to this group who still sound just as amazing as they did in the '80s.
“There have been a lot of milestones over the years, but my proudest accomplishment is that we still do this,” said Williams. “This is the beginning of our 39th year being a band and that speaks for itself. I love to do this and there’s not many people that get to find a hobby they started in high school and turn it into a lifetime career.”
Kansas will perform at the Carnegie Library Music Hall in Munhall Friday with special guests Bishop Clay and Silent Partner. Doors open at 7 p.m. with the show at 8 p.m. Tickets are available online or by calling 412-368-5255—and range from $35 to $60, plus applicable taxes and fees.
“Thank you to the fans of Pittsburgh,” said Williams. “IF we made a top-10 list about reasons we keep going, Pittsburgh would be at the top of the list where we’d extend our gratitude.”