Point of Know Return2/6/2019
Kansas band members signed their first recording contract while in Des Moines.
When Kansas returns to Des Moines for a concert at Hoyt Sherman on March 8, it will be like coming home. Rich Williams, a guitarist for Kansas, explains to CITYVIEW why Des Moines holds such special memories.
“We had made a demo tape and (we were) playing at clubs in Des Moines,” he says. “We got our first recording contract sent to us, and we signed it in Des Moines. We could sense the momentum changing while in Iowa.
“Six of us guys stayed in one hotel room, and we celebrated by buying baloney, bread and cheese from the grocery store. It was a great memory. We like Des Moines.”
Since then, Kansas has recorded 15 studio albums including eight gold, three sextuple platinum, one platinum live and two gold singles, “Carry On Wayward Son” and “Dust in the Wind.”
The band is excited to get together, and their set list differs from previous concerts. For their 40th anniversary tour, they’ll perform the entire 1977 “Point of Know Return” album.
“It’s a great night for fans,” says Williams. “We didn’t anticipate how well performing the entire catalogue would do.”
The group’s success can be credited to remaining true to the members’ musical roots and ignoring trends, according to Williams.
“In the early years, as music evolved, progressive rock was quite popular,” he says. “Recording executives tried to get us to change to disco. That’s not what we do. Our job is to be as quintessential Kansas. Trends don’t work for us and never will. We are who we are.”
The band dispels the myth that they’re a serious band — a big “think tank” of musical professionalism.
“We’re not,” says Williams. “We’re just a bunch of knuckleheads from Topeka who like to laugh. We’re not these deep wizards. We laugh and have fun all the time.”
Sometimes the band’s attempts at onstage humor prove difficult.
“We’ve said something funny, and people cock their heads sideways like the RCA dog,” he says.
He also likens the band to working for the circus.
“We live on the other side of the curtain,” he says. “We have our own lifestyle. When little boys join the circus, you can never go home.”
Most of the Kansas band members are now in their 60s and 70s, and Williams plans to continue playing the guitar as long as possible.
“My fingers still work the same as they did then,” he says. “There’s no point in not doing this.”
People have asked him how he can continue playing the same songs for 45 years. He replies, “My friends have the same job since high school; it seems like a nightmare to me. This hasn’t been like work for me.”
He adds that the older he gets, the more grateful he becomes.
“Playing music is still my passion,” he says. “The golden years are just starting. The longer I do this, the more protective and grateful I am for it. I have a deeper appreciation, and I can sense growing. I like it better today than I did last month.” ♦
Kansas performs at Hoyt Sherman on March 8. Tickets run from $54.50-$99.50; available at Ticketmaster or the Hoyt Sherman box office.