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Video Game Helping Kansas Win New Fans

Of the Oakland Press

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Kansas guitarist Rich Williams is noticing a new phenomenon at the band’s shows these days.

“I’ve got my own personal guitar army in front of me every night now, just kids from eight to 18 who are there because of Guitar Hero,” says Williams, 57. And, he adds, he’s happy to see that they know how to “play” more than just the group’s biggest hit, 1977’s “Carry On Wayward Son,” which is featured in the popular video game.

“What’s happened is because of that, they’ve started to go deeper into the old catalog and find other stuff, not just ‘... Wayward Son’ but Kansas in general,” notes Williams, who co-founded the group in 1972 in Topeka. “It’s very exciting.”

Kansas, meanwhile, remains active in its own right. The group recently released an expanded 30th anniversary edition of its first live album, “Two For the Show” and is gearing up to film a concert DVD with a symphony orchestra in 2009. Meanwhile Williams and three other members of Kansas — drummer Phil Ehart, bassist Billy Greer and violinist David Ragsdale — are two-thirds of the way through an album with their side project, Native Window, though the guitarist says it poses no threat to Kansas’ continuation.

“It’s just an opportunity for us to put on a different hat and be something other than Kansas,” Williams explains. “We don’t know what it’s going to be, really. It’s unknown territory, but it’s fun. And if it’s received well, we might open for Kansas someday!”

Kansas performs at the 2008 Rockin’ on the Riverfront concert series at 8 p.m. Friday (Aug. 8) on the RiverWalk behind the GM Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. Admission is free. Call (313) 567-3126 or visit www. gmrencen.com.

Web Site: www.gmrencen.com

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