COMMENTS

Guide to Winterfest at Lakewood Ranch

/
Richard Williams Kansas AP 1

Guitarist Richard Williams performs with his band Kansas at the Chastain Park Amphitheatre on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 in Atlanta. (Photo by Dan Harr/Invision/AP)

INTERVIEW: Kansas' Richard Williams

Kansas, the most famous band performing Saturday during the inaugural Winterfest at Lakewood Ranch, recently launched a 40th anniversary tour. The progressive rock group’s lead guitarist, Richard Williams, has been with Kansas since its self-titled debut album came out to mixed reviews and lukewarm sales in 1974 - stardom would have to wait a few a years. As with most careers spanning four decades, Kansas’ is marked by highs and lows. But it’s doubtful you will hear Williams complain.

“I’ve avoided work my whole life,” he says by phone, with a chuckle. “So it has been a vacation.”

While Kansas’ first album failed to garner much attention, the band’s next two albums, “Song for America” and then “Masque,” both released in 1975, also lacked the hit song required to catapult the constantly touring, arty American rock group from Topeka to national success. The 1976 album “Leftoverture,” though, finally put Kansas in the arena-rock spotlight thanks to the smash “Carry on Wayward Son.”

Written by the band’s chief songwriter, keyboardist/guitarist Kerry Livgren, it starts with a capella vocals by Steve Walsh and then rocks out with Phil Ehart’s powerhouse drumming and Williams’ equally potent guitar work that includes a soaring solo. Even with its tricky time signatures and clever arrangement, the song, a last-minute addition to the album, retains an urgency that still resonates today.

“The version that became the hit on the album was probably the first time we ever played it correctly,” Williams says. “The process was very organic - especially recording on analog tape, there was not a million ways to edit it - and we were able to really capture the moment well.”

“Carry on Wayward Son” had reached No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 by the time Kansas returned to the studio to record the band’s highly anticipated follow-up album “Point of Know Return,” which would be released in October of 1977. Like with “Carry on Wayward Son,” Livgren presented “Dust in the Wind” to his Kansas band mates late into the recordings session. Again sung by Morse, it’s an acoustic song augmented by violin and viola. A departure from the band’s previous work, including the still heavily played “Carry on Wayward Son,” “Dust in the Wind” shot to No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“It wasn’t anything like what we had done before,” Williams recalls,“but just hearing Kerry mumbling through it in raw form I said to Phil, ‘That’s our next single, this is a monster song!’”

In the late 1970s, Kansas ranked as one of the biggest rocks band in the country but several years later the musicians were headed in different directions. Most notably, Livgren became a born-again Christian. He left Kansas in 1983 but has returned for occasional live performances and recorded the 2000 album “Somewhere to Elsewhere” with other original members of Kansas. The band’s current lineup is original guitarist Williams, original singer/keyboardist Steve Walsh, original drummer Ehart, bassist Billy Greer and violinist David Ragsdale.

“Not everybody gets to do what they were built to do," the 64-year-old Williams says. “I’ve now spent my life doing what I felt came natural.”

Rick Derringer w Ringo Starr AP 2010

Musician Ringo Starr, left, performs with guitarist Rick Derringer, who is part of his All Starr Band, at Radio City Music Hall on Wednesday, July 7, 2010 in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE
The music starts at 9:55 am with the National Anthem. There are two stages. While the main stage is being set up for the next band, there will be performances on the community stage by 12-year-old guitar sensation Jake Castro, jazz musician Les Sabler, a Del Couch Foundation performer and other local acts to be announced. Here’s the schedule for the main stage.

Billy Dean
10-10:45 a.m.
Gadsden County native’s string of Top 10 country hits in the early 1990s includes “Somewhere In My Broken Heart,” “If There Hadn’t Been You” and “Billy the Kid.”

Ty Herndon
11:15 a.m.-noon
Country singer who had three No.1 country hits in the 1990s - “What Mattered Most,” “Loved Too Much” and “It Must Be Love” - recently released the album “Lies I Told Myself.”

Marty Balin
12:30-1:15 p.m.
A founder, songwriter and one of the lead singers of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Jefferson Airplane, Balin played an integral role on the band’s landmark 1967 album “Surrealistic Pillow.” He was also a member of the successful off-shoot group Jefferson Starship in the 1970s.

Rick Derringer
1:45-2:30 p.m.
Guitar hero and Bradenton resident wrote and sang lead vocals on the 1970s party anthem “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” following his years with The McCoys, which had a No. 1 hit with “Hang On Sloopy” in 1965. A member of the 2010-11 edition of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, Derringer’s new album, recorded with his wife, is a collection of Fab Four covers called “Rick and Jenda Derringer do The Beatles.”

Bertie Higgins
3-3:45 p.m.
Tarpon Springs native is best known for his 1982 album “Just Another Day in Paradise,” which features the Top 10 soft-rock hit “Key Largo.”

Hotel California
4:15-5 p.m.
Band performs The Eagles’ greatest hits.

Atlanta Rhythm Section
5:30-6:30 p.m.
Southern rock band had numerous hits in the 1970s including “So In To You,” “Imaginary Lover” and “Spooky.”

Special surprise performance
6:45-7 p.m.
Perhaps Balin, Derringer and Jeff Cook will join forces again as they have before in Manatee County.

Jeff Cook and the Allstar Goodtime Band
7-8 p.m.
Cook is a multi-instrumentalist and singer best known as one of the founding members of country music’s greatest-selling group, Alabama, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year with a reunion tour.

Kansas
8:30-9:30 p.m.
See accompanying interview with the band’s original lead guitarist Richard Williams.

Gary Sinise AP 2013

In this May, 2008 file photo provided by the Department of Defense, actor and musician Gary Sinise performs with his "Lt. Dan Band" during the "America Supports You" concert at the Pentagon in Washington. (AP Photo/Department of Defense, Jerry Morrison, File)

Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band
10-11 p.m.
The Lt. Dan Band is a cover band founded by Kimo Williams and famed actor Gary Sinise. It’s named after Sinise’s character from “Forrest Gump.”

FUN STUFF
There will be 25 food vendors selling everything from gourmet coffee to barbecue to strawberry shortcake as well as more than 20 non-food vendors. There will also be a Kid Zone with a bounce house, a big slide and some games. There will be an artist merchandise tent where fans can come to meet and greet some of the artists. There will also be an autograph signing schedule posted at the tent entrance which is next to the stage area. There will be free shuttles from the parking lot to the gate and radio station Q105 will be broadcasting live from backstage throughout the day.

WINTERFEST
8 a.m. (gates open), 10 a.m-11 p.m. (music), Saturday; Premier Sports Campus, 5895 Post Blvd., Lakewood Ranch. General admission is $25 in advance and $40 at the door (cash only). Children age 5 and younger will be admitted free. VIP access is available for $100 and features an all-day catered buffet, unlimited beer, wine and soft drinks, front-row reserved seating and air-conditioned restrooms. The VIP tickets cannot be purchased at the door; they are available in advance only. For more information and to purchase tickets call 757-1553 or visit lwrwinterfest.com.

 

WINTERFEST
8 a.m. (gates open), 10 a.m-11 p.m. (music), Saturday; Premier Sports Campus, 5895 Post Blvd., Lakewood Ranch. General admission is $25 in advance and $40 at the door (cash only). Children age 5 and younger will be admitted free. VIP access is available for $100 and features an all-day catered buffet, unlimited beer, wine and soft drinks, front-row reserved seating and air-conditioned restrooms. The VIP tickets cannot be purchased at the door; they are available in advance only. For more information and to purchase tickets call 757-1553 or visit lwrwinterfest.com.

Wade_Tatangelo_by_Mike_Lang_HT_06212013
WADE TATANGELO is the editor of TICKET + and a contributor at TicketSarasota.com. He has been an entertainment editor, reporter, columnist and reviewer for more than a decade at publications nationwide. He is a Hershey, Pa., native who grew up in Tampa and graduated from the University of South Florida. Wade joined the Herald-Tribune in 2013. He can be reached by email or call (941) 361-4955.
Last modified: April 4, 2014
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published without permissions. Links are encouraged.
COMMENTS