Kansas eager to perform for home-state audience

The members of Kansas aren’t just musicians. The band is made up of pragmatists. The veteran act, which is on its 40th anniversary tour, will never release another studio album. The reason is due to pure logic.

“To make a real album, not an indie version of an album slapped together, makes no sense for us,” violinist David Ragsdale said. “A real album is very expensive to make. It costs a minimum of $250,000 to make one right, with the production and post-production. The problem with that for us is that nobody buys records unless you’re a 17-year-old dancer. That’s who the industry backs. You don’t have to worry about your chops or singing. That can all be taken care of. Those people just have to worry about dancing. That’s the only thing they can’t fake. We don’t fit that bill. So you won’t hear anything new from us.”

Fortunately Kansas, which will perform Friday at the Kansas State Fair, has a treasure trove of songs. The band’s baroque tunes meld the lush sounds of progressive rock with an earnestness.

“It’s a unique sound,” Ragsdale said while calling from his Atlanta home. “There is something timeless about it. The songs are beautifully crafted. (Vocalist) Steve (Walsh) and (former keyboardist) Kerry (Livgren) wrote great songs that stand the test of time.”

That’s certainly so as Kansas is on its 40th anniversary tour.

“The enthusiasm the fans have had this time around has been incredible,” Ragsdale said. “They’ve been great about everything we’ve played.”

It’s not easy for the band to make up a set list. “We could go well over three hours,” Ragsdale said. “But there isn’t time for that so there’s a challenge upon selecting songs. That’s (drummer) Phil Ehart’s job.”

Count on Kansas to render such staples as “Carry On Wayward Son,” “Dust in the Wind,” “Point of Know Return” and “Hold On.”

“It’s so much fun to play those old favorites,” Ragsdale said. “I’m looking forward to the response we’ll get in Hutchinson. That’s obviously home for Kansas.”

Kansas, which also includes guitarist Rich Williams and bassist Billy Greer, formed in Topeka in 1973.

“It’s like a hometown show for us,” Ragsdale said. “It’s always been fun playing in the home state. If the audience there isn’t sincere, they’re awfully good at faking it.”

Ragsdale does concede that the band may write and release a new track. “That’s a possibility,” he said. “There’s a trend among bands that have been around for a while to write and record a new song and release it as a download. But we might do that. We won’t release an album. We’ll leave that to Miley Cyrus. She’s making news for that (performance at MTV’s Video Music Award show two weeks ago). Everybody is making a big deal about what she did, but it’s just fine for her. Nobody held anything against Madonna or Lady Gaga for doing something outrageous. It only helps those types of performers. That’s what they do. And then there are acts like us that just play music. There’s room for all of us.”