King Midas opens KEYN concert series

06/29/2012 5:00 AM

07/01/2012 9:26 AM

King Midas and the Muflers started a party 47 years ago and haven’t stopped yet.

“We enjoy playing as much as we ever have,” said Mike Hill, the band’s guitarist. “The traveling and the setting up and tearing down does take a toll on us old-timers, but we love the music. It gets in your system.”

Hill and his cohorts will open the KEYN Summer Concert series for the third straight year July 6 off Main and Waterman, west of the WaterWalk condos. The shows continues on successive Fridays through Aug. 10 with performances by Stallion, Rain, Big Fat Fun, Annie Up and Lucky People.

KEYN program director Jack Oliver said he’s been a fan of King Midas since the 1960s.

“If it’s summer, it’s time for King Midas to come to town,” he said.

Hill, keyboardist Dennis Frans and drummer Bob Hapgood started King Midas in McPherson in 1965. It quickly evolved into an eight-piece band complete with a horn section.

“Back in the ’60s, there were a bunch of bands playing all over the place — (like) the Fabulous Flippers, Spider and the Crabs — and we were one of them,” Hill said.

“We did a lot of traveling playing Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, the Texas panhandle. There were lots of 3.2 (beer) clubs. We played an awful lot of those.”

High school proms and small-town dances were other regular stops. The band did its own form of networking, advertising on a powerful radio station out of Oklahoma City.

“It reached half of the United States, and all the kids that wanted rock ’n’ listened to it,” Hill said. “They would say ‘This Friday night, King Midas is going to be in Ravenna, Nebraska. Saturday night, they’ll be in Manhattan, Kansas.’ ”

As the years passed, King Midas went through numerous personnel changes. Hapgood died five years ago. His son, Bobby, took over on drums. Hill’s son, Tim, is now the lead singer. Other members include saxophonist Ralph Brown, bassist Ron Foulk, trumpeter Mark Casebeer and sound man Mike Badgett, who Hill calls a “full-fledged member” of the band.

The band was inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame several years ago. King Midas has cut down on its club gigs and now mostly plays private functions. But the band’s let’s-have-fun philosophy hasn’t changed.

“Everything we play is dance music and audience participation,” Hill said. “We like to get involved with the crowd. So many bands get out there and play music for themselves. We have our most fun when they’re having fun.”

Longtime fans know that no King Midas show is complete without a couple of popular medleys — a soul medley of “Hold On, I’m Comin’,” “In the Midnight Hour” and “Mustang Sally” and a party medley of “Louie Louie,” “96 Tears” and “You Really Got Me.”

“It’s amazing how many people come up every time we play,” Hill said. “They’ll say ‘that was the first date with my wife the night you played the National Guard Armory in Great Bend.’ It’s kind of neat that people still remember us and dance to our music.”

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