Imagine playing "Dust in the Wind" for 35 years.
It's been that long since the band Kansas made the song a major hit. Since then, Kansas has been on the road, becoming one of the country's most popular and reliable tour bands.
All that time, Rich Williams has been the lead guitarist and, despite the repetitiveness of the job, he said he still "absolutely" loves it.
"I worked in a liquor store in my college years, and it was boring," Williams said. "I worked in deck construction and swung a hammer. I know what real work is, and I don't qualify. With Kansas, I have lived 10 lifetimes in 40 years. I've enjoyed playing in this band and I still do."
Kansas formed in 1974, and Williams has been with the band from the first album. The band had some landmarks with significant influence on rock music the albums "Leftoverture" and "Point of Know Return." And it remains a fixture on classic rock radio.
"We have the best fans in the world," Williams said. "Their responses are always solid, insightful, and they will tell you what they think. Our classics hold up fine. New fans are discovering us every day, thanks to video games, movies, and TV shows that use our music. The songs have retained a relevance through the years that only a small percentage of recordings do."
The chances, however, of any new recordings are slim, if nonexistent. It's about economics and, from the band's point of view at least, honesty about where the members have been and where they are.
"We've kicked the idea around, but we have to look at reality. Why do a new album? It won't add anything to our tour. It would be an enormous expense. It would require taking up to a year off the road. Radio won't play it. People would not buy it, preferring to buy T-shirts. And record companies would not be likely to pay for it or promote it.
"Record companies these days are shoe salesmen. They used to develop artists and nurture them through albums. That was then. There was a flavor of the month, and now it's a flavor of the moment. Even if they were to produce us and our album were to go platinum, which used to be a big thing, that is not now a big deal. We would get lost in the shuffle of multiple other platinum albums."
There are some new Kansas recordings out there, though, and that's through their concerts with orchestras (like "There's No Place Like Home," recorded live with the Washburn University Orchestra).
"But our bread and butter is on the stage. To be in this band was my calling, and it's been like a little boy going to the circus."
Kansas plays the Eldorado Convention Center at 9 p.m. today ($35; 800-648-5966 or eldoradoreno.com).
Concert season gets going
Robin Williams began his Tahoe appearances with a string of 3 a.m. concerts at Harrah's, coming on late after the regular headliners because of his adult material. The lines formed early, and he often embarrassed the room's stars with his packed houses. It's been 10 years since he last played the basin (that time at Harveys Outdoor). He's back tonight and Saturday in the new MontBleu outdoor venue.
With him will be David Steinberg, another of the great classic stand-ups. Plan ahead for arrival, though Williams also is playing in the American Century Championship Celebrity Golf Tournament with a host of other celebrities, and traffic and parking will be problematic (9:30 p.m.; $100, $135, $175; montbleuresort.com).
Wilco, the alternative rock band from Chicago, plays the Grand Sierra on Sunday (7 p.m.; $39.50; grandsierraresort.com).
Honky-tonker Mark Chesnutt will perform at the Carson Valley Inn (8 p.m. Sunday; $25; 775-783-6606).
Carson Valley Inn Cabaret Lounge: Vinny Messina, Wednesday; Stew Stewart, through Sunday; Paul Covarelli, Monday-Tuesday; Steppen Stonz, Thursday-July 28; "Hands of Time With Stew Stewart, Aug. 2-4. Ballroom: Mark Chesnutt, Sunday (775) 782-9711.
Eldorado, Reno Convention Center: Kansas, today. Showroom: "Man in the Mirror," through Aug. 3; "Jersey Nights," Aug. 7-Nov. 4. (800) 648-5966.
Harrah's Reno Sammy's Showroom: "Persuasion," Thursdays-Sundays. Comedy at the Zone: Ron Morey, through Saturday; Carlie and Doni, Thursday. (800) 427-7247.
Harrah's Lake Tahoe South Shore Room: Nathan Owens Motown Legends, next Friday-July 30. (800) 427-7247.
Harveys, Lake Tahoe Improv: John Caponera, David Gee, through Sunday; Dat Phan, Ronnie Schell, Wednesday. Outdoor Arena: Maroon 5, Saturday; Journey with Pat Benatar and Loverboy, Sunday; Brad Paisley and the Band Perry, July 28. (800) 427-8397.
Horizon, Lake Tahoe Illusion Fusion starring Alex Ramon, Thursdays-Tuesdays. (775) 588-6211.
MontBleu Resort, Lake Tahoe Outdoor Event Center: Sublime with Rome, Cypress Hill, and HB Surround Sound, Thursday. (775) 588-3515.
Silver Legacy, Reno Grande Exposition Hall: Ron White, July 28. (800) 687-8733.