Opening for Kansas

On the subject of opening acts… My band opened for Kansas a couple of times. I’m sure you prog-rockers would think that was cool.

When I was a kid and young teen learning how to play the drums I had a few “idol” drummers. They were (in no particular order) Niel Peart (Rush), Phil Ehart (Kansas), Billy Cobham, Buddy Rich etc. I really went through the Rush and Kansas stages very heavily. I studied the odd time signatures of Kansas’ Phil Ehart and considered him a drum genius.

Years later the premier live music venue in town had Kansas playing a couple of shows and they invited my band to open for them. Wow, what an honor. The other two guys in my band hate Kansas so they didn’t really care but I was excited.

3 interesting things happened during the two nights we opened for Kansas.

The first was kind of a bummer. At that time I had a Ludwig 18″ vistalite clear plastic floor tom that I had converted to a kick drum. When I was loading my kit onto the stage the first night I dropped my kick drum. When it hit the ground the plastic cracked and the damn drum basically broke in half. The sound guy gave me some duct tape and I taped the damn thing together for the show.

The 2nd thing that really stuck into my mind was something the owner of the club said to me. I told him how I remembered seeing Kansas sell out a 12,000 seat arena. He told me “we get them on their way up, and their way down.” I thought that was kind of a sad because he obviously was implying that Kansas was “on their way down.”

The 3rd and most rewarding thing was something Phil the drummer asked/told me. When we finished our first set on the first of the two nights Phil came up and told me that I’d played a great set. He said he really liked my technique. I was quite blown away and didn’t even know what to say. Then he asked me if it would be ok if he videotaped my set the next night! This was an awesome experience to have one of my drum “idols” asking to videotape me to see what I was doing! WOW.

After the gigs the Kansas guys were all really cool and I got to meet them all (Yes Steve Walsh too) and they all autographed my snare drum head.