Interview: Kansas’ Ronnie Platt Talks Upcoming Show At Sands Event Center, Classic Hits and New Music

Photo: EMily Butler Photography

With a career spanning more than four decades and more than thirty million in album sales alone, Kansas has firmly established itself as one classic rock’s most iconic bands. Since releasing their debut album in 1974 the band’s hits like “Carry on Wayward Son,” “Dust In The Wind,” and “Point of Know Return,” have become staples of classic rock radio and continue to be used in film, television and video games to this very day.

In 2016, Kansas released their acclaimed fifteenth studio album, “The Prelude Implicit,” and spent most of the next two years touring it as well as celebrating the 40th anniversary of their landmark Leftoverture album. With even more tour dates, including performing albums in their entirety, and the talk of even more new music, Kansas shows no sign of slowing down.

On Thursday, May 30, Kansas will be bringing its Radio Classics Tour to The Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA. A show that promises to feature material that spans the groups legendary career as well as a few surprises.

Kansas is: Phil Ehart (drums), Richard Williams (guitars), Billy Greer (bassist/vocalist), Ronnie Platt (vocalist/keyboards), David Ragsdale (violinist/guitarist), Tom Brislin (keyboards) and Zak Rizvi (guitars).

I recently spoke with vocalist Ronnie Platt about the band’s upcoming performance in Bethlehem, new music and more in this exclusive new interview.

What can fans expect from Kansas’ upcoming performance at The Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA?

Fans are going to be in for a fantastic, high-energy, music-packed show. Songs from album number one all the way up to “The Prelude Implicit” and everything in between. Bring your extinguishers because the band is on fire.

What do you think makes the music of Kansas, and classic rock in general, so timeless and special?

I think it’s the depth, diversity and dynamics of the music. It also doesn’t hurt that Kerry [Livgren] was also influenced by classical music. Today, people are still listening to Mozart, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. These are guys who lived hundreds of years ago. Their music is still being played because there’s a level of musicality and intensity that makes it remain timeless. Kansas has that same element. It warms my heart when I see young kids and teenagers at our shows getting into it and aren’t just sitting there waiting for “Wayward Son.” It’s cool to see an appreciation of this music at all age levels.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Ronnie Platt by Clicking Here.

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Get Neapolitan Sky FREE This Weekend!

To celebrate all the amazing moms out there as well as the one year anniversary of the release of my novella, “Neapolitan Sky“, I’m giving away the e-book version of the story FREE this weekend – May 10-12!

Here’s a synopsis:

Dreams of becoming a professional writer are abruptly put on hold for college student Nica Mitchell following the unexpected death of her mother and her father’s cancer diagnosis. Forced to return home when he’s hospitalized after encountering a near death experience, Nica learns that her father has been keeping a dark secret. Something in between the stages of life and death that, when revealed, will change her life forever.

Watch the trailer for Neapolitan Sky here:

Click Here to download the book at absolutely no charge and with no strings attached. Please share this article with everyone you know!

Hope you enjoy!

Interview: Styx Bassist Ricky Phillips Talks Touring, Music And Career Highlights

Classic rock pioneers Styx has gone through waves of change over their legendary forty-seven-year career. But perhaps at no time in the band’s history has it shown more diversity, musicianship or the ability to adapt and fire on all cylinders than in 2019. In addition to showcasing its arsenal of radio hits on its current tour, Styx is able to draw material from deep in its catalog, much to delight of diehard fanbase.

Tracks from the band’s most recent release, The Mission, also find their way into the band’s set list. The concept album, an adventurous forty-three-minute thrill ride chronicling the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the first manned mission to Mars, conjures images of the band’s mid-70s sound with with 21st-century appeal.

On Tuesday, May 21, Styx — Tommy Shaw (guitars/vocals), Lawrence Gowan (keyboards/vocals), James “JY” Young (guitar/vocals), Todd Sucherman (drums), Ricky Phillips (bass) and Chuck Panozzo (bass), will bring its well-oiled machine to The Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA for what’s sure to be a night to remember.

I recently spoke with bassist Ricky Phillips about the band’s upcoming performance in and more in this exclusive new interview.

What can fans expect from Styx’s appearance at The Sands Event Center?

Every show is different but what I can guarantee is that Styx is running like a well-oiled machine. We still do close to 100 shows a year and are on the road most of the time. We’ll play the hits everyone expects, like “Renegade,” “Come Sail Away” and “Blue Collar Man,” but we also try to go deep into the catalog and find little nuggets like “Snowblind,” “Suite Madame Blue” and “Castle Walls.” We also have a new record out called The Mission and we’ve been having fun playing some of the new songs as well.

Speaking of The Mission, didn’t the band recently do a show in Las Vegas where you performed the album in its entirety?

We did. It was only one night but it was a blast. We had people fly in from all over Europe and Japan just to see it. The Mission is a concept album about NASA preparing its first manned flight to Mars. The music and storyline is right in Tommy’s wheelhouse. He created characters and a storyline that runs throughout the album. It has a sound like the Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight period of the band, with vintage instruments and analog recording. It was a great feeling to create something that sounds like was recorded in the 1970s.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Ricky Phillips by Clicking Here!

‘Bullet Train’: Christian Burns Discusses A Reunited BBMAK And Infectious New Single

Photo: Allister Ann

Although BBMAK hadn’t released anything collectively since 2002’s Into Your Head, the members of the multi-platinum English-pop group known for hits like “Back Here,” “Still On Your Side,” and “Out Of My Heart,” have remained friends and occasionally found themselves meeting up at various social events.

It was during one of these soirees that an impromptu jam session occurred. A resulting video clip of the performance was posted on social media and instantly went viral, sparking talks of a full-on reunion.

Now, after a fifteen-year hiatus, the reunited members of BBMAK — Mark Barry, Christian Burns and Stephen McNally, are back with an infectious new single, “Bullet Train.” Releasing on Friday, May 3, the track is a small taste of what to expect from the group’s highly-anticipated new album due later this summer.

“Bullet Train” is the logical next step in the band’s evolution. A groove-ridden locomotive of musical maturity, guitar-driven hooks and, of course, the ubiquitous BBMAK signature three-part harmony.

To coincide with the release of the new single, BBMAK will embark on the first leg of the group’s North American “Back Here Tour” which begins May 6 in Boston, MA. Other dates include stops in cities like New York, Detroit, Nashville, Dallas and Chicago.

I recently spoke with BBMak’s Christian Burns about the reunion, “Bullet Train” and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did the BBMAK reunion come about?

Even though we hadn’t done a show or anything together since 2003 we’ve stayed in touch and remained friends and gotten together at various events. We had an event a few years ago where we got out the guitars and had a jam. I posted a video of us singing “Back Here” on Facebook and it went crazy. It had about two million views. We really enjoyed singing together again and it morphed into where we’re at now — our first new album in fifteen years and about to hit the road and go back on tour. It naturally felt like the right time to do it.

What was it like getting back in the recording studio again as BBMAK?

It was like riding a bike. You never forget. We hadn’t written in the same room for many years so we just got the guitars out and had a jam. I remember the first day we came out with four really strong ideas. Two of which are on the new album.

Let’s discuss the new single, “Bullet Train.”

That was one of the ones we wrote on the first day we got together. We liked the feel and drive of it. It’s the glue and transition from the last album to where we are now. We’re excited to get it out there.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Christopher Burns by Clicking Here!

Interview: Comedian Rita Rudner Discusses Upcoming Sellersville Theater Performance, Career Highlights

Legend Rita Rudner has pretty much done it all. Not only has the versatile comedian performed all over the world, including a record 13-year residency in Las Vegas (the longest running solo comedy show in Las Vegas history) as well as dates at Carnegie Hall and sold out tours of Australia and England, but her first solo HBO special ‘One Night Stand’ was nominated for multiple awards, as were her BBC and A&E specials.

An accomplished dancer and singer, Rudner is also the author of several fiction and non-fiction books and multiple Hollywood scripts. Rudner, along with husband, Martin, are also planning to stage a new musical in New York this summer.

On Saturday, April 27, Rita Rudner will bring her unique and insatiable brand of comedy to The Sellersville Theater in Sellersville, PA for two shows — ne at 6 p.m. and the other at 9 p.m. I recently spoke with her about the upcoming performances in Sellersville, her career and more in this exclusive new interview.

What can fans expect from your upcoming shows at The Sellersville Theater?

Rita Rudner: Lots of jokes in a row and a gown that doesn’t wrinkle [laughs]. That’s what I deliver every time.

How would you describe your brand of comedy?

I like to do things that everybody can relate to. In this time when everybody’s being so torn apart I like to figure out commonalities we all share. It makes for a fun evening, and there’s no politics in my act whatsoever.

Where do you draw your inspiration?

It’s always from personal experiences but there’s no one way to be creative. Sometimes I might hear a word somebody says, or see something somebody does, or I’ll say a word accidentally out of the blue. I like to stay attentive.

Did you always know that you wanted to have a career in entertainment?

Yes, but originally only as a dancer. I was a professional dancer until I was about 30 and then switched to comedy.

What made you decide to make the change?

It was the numbers. There were too many dancers and not enough comedians. I realized there was very little chance I was going to be Gwen Verdon or Barbara Streisand — because I was a singer too — but there was a chance I could be George Burns [laughs].

Read the rest of my
Interview with Rita Rudner by Clicking Here!

‘Winds of Change’: Legendary Singer/Songwriter Jim Peterik Discusses New World Stage Album

Nearly twenty years after the release of “Jim Peterik’s World Stage,” the legendary singer/songwriter and Ides of March frontman is back with one of the biggest and most grandiose albums of the year, ‘Winds of Change.’

Set for release on April 26 ‘Winds of Change’ features Peterik collaborating with an arsenal of melodic rock’s greatest superstars, including Dennis DeYoung (ex-Styx), Kevin Chalfant (ex-The Storm), Kelly Keagy (Night Ranger), Toby Hitchcock (Pride Of Lions), Mike Reno (Loverboy) and Kevin Cronin (REO Speedwagon). As an added bonus, ‘Winds of Change’ also features the previously unreleased track, “Love You All Over The World,” sung by the late Jimi Jamison.

Jim Peterik and World Stage arose from the idea that the musical and spiritual collaboration of great artists and friends could make something magical. ‘Winds of Change’ continues that trend by not only displaying the versatility and talents of Peterik but also the musical embellishment by a seasoned (and legendary) cast of singers, musicians and friends.

I recently spoke with Jim Peterik about ‘Winds of Change’ and more in this exclusive new interview.

What inspired the new World Stage album?

Jim Peterik: It was a phone call put me in motion. I’m a non-stop writer. Every day I’m writing concepts and pieces of songs and looking for a reason to rally the troops and put out something meaningful. One day I got a call from Serafino Perugino,who’s a great friend and mentor. He was a big fan of the first World Stage album and told me that it was time for a new album. I got to work and started making calls to the people I wanted to be involved, including Don Barnes [38 Special], Kevin Chalfant, Toby Hitchcock [Pride of Lions], Kevin Cronin [REO Speedwagon], The Nelsons and Kelly Keagy [Night Ranger].

Let’s talk about a few songs from the new album, starting with the title track. What can you tell me about “Winds of Change?”

About a year ago I was writing songs with Don Barnes and Danny Chauncey for a new 38 Special album. One of the songs was called “Winds of Change.” It was my favorite of the new songs we’d written. When I was asked about doing a new World Stage album I asked Don about finishing up a song to use. That’s when he said, “Well, how about ‘Winds of Change’?” I was like, “Oh, hell yeah! [laughs]”. I was blown away. So, I got a final vocal from Don, took it back to Chicago and built the track around it. It was a blessing that he let me use a track that was earmarked for a 38 Special album.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Jim Peterik by Clicking Here!

Interview: Dan Rather Discusses The New Season of AXS TV’s ‘The Big Interview’

Photo: Stewart Volland AXS-TV

AXS TV’s acclaimed series, “The Big Interview With Dan Rather” shines a spotlight on some of the world’s most beloved and influential artists and performers. Each week legendary newsman Dan Rather is joined by members of entertainment royalty discussing each artist’s lives, legacies and careers.

The series returns for an exciting seventh season on Tuesday, April 16 at 8 p.m. ET with an exclusive sit-down interview with one of rock’s all-time greatest vocalists, Steve Perry. Future episodes include candid conversations with KISS frontman Paul Stanley; pop pioneer Cyndi Lauper; Foreigner members Mick Jones and Lou Gramm; REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin, Neal Doughty, Bruce Hall, Dave Amato and Bryan Hitt; Oscar-Winning actor, writer, director and musician Billy Bob Thornton; comedy legend Carl Reiner and his son, acclaimed filmmaker Rob Reiner; iconic Country star Travis Tritt; celebrated singer/songwriter and guitarist Boz Scaggs and multi-talented musician and radio host Paul Shaffer.

In this exclusive interview, Dan Rather speaks with members of the press, including Go Jimmy Go, Guitar International, KXEL in Iowa, Best Classic Bands and Focus On The 615, about the new season of “The Big Interview” and much more.

How did “The Big Interview” get started?

“The Big Interview” was Mark Cuban’s idea when he re-purposed what used to be known as HD-NET. When I started with Mark we were doing a news program on HD-NET, and when he renamed the channel to be a go-to place for pop culture, he proposed I do these kinds of interviews. I had some reservations about how they’d be but decided to try a few. The rest, as they say, is history.

You’ve interviewed a lot of top musicians over the course of your career. When did you become a fan of music?

I grew up in Texas in the 1930’s and 1940’s and in the early part of my life, if Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb or Roy Acuff didn’t sing it then I didn’t know it. I’ve never been musically inclined to play an instrument but as life went on I developed a liking for all kinds of music. My knowledge wasn’t broad or deep but in doing “The Big Interview” it’s increased. It’s been a real education for me.

Of all the shows you’ve done, what have been some of the biggest surprises?

I’ve had a lot of surprises. Steve Perry had a justified reputation of being a recluse and someone who didn’t welcome interviews. I was a little worried going in but discovered that just the opposite was true. He came to play and was really in the moment. Paul Stanley was another. Most know that he was born with a deformed ear. He was thoughtful and introspective about discussing it and talked about how it affected his life as a child and later, his life as an adult. When he was discussing that I felt we were really discussing one of our goals, which is to get to the interior of the person.

Are there any other country artists you’d like to have on “The Big Interview”?

I’d like to sit down with Alan Jackson. He doesn’t do a lot of interviews but he’s on my list. Then there’s Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown and Garth Brooks. I’m hopeful we’ll be able to get them all somewhere in the near future.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve learned about interviewing that you can pass along?

There are two big things, whether you’re just starting out as an interviewer or have been at it for years. The fundamentals begin with preparation, preparation and preparation. Right behind that is being able to listen carefully. It’s one thing to hear. It’s another to listen carefully. Pick up on things your subject says as a way of forming questions. Don’t be chained to a list of questions you’ve written down or memorized. I’ve spent my life interviewing rock stars, celebrities, kings and dictators but the basics never change – prepare and listen carefully. The more preparation you do the better the interview is going to be.

REO Speedwagon with Dan Rather – Photo: Ian Vecchiotti The BMP Film Co

Sometimes an interview can become a conversation and can roll on and on. Have you found some that you wish kept going?

One that immediately comes to mind was with Sammy Hagar. He’s funny, has a great sense of humor and endless anecdotes and stories. Some of which may even be true [laughs]. Another was one of the early interviews with Jack White. I wasn’t familiar with Jack and didn’t know his music, but he was so intelligent and I could’ve talked to him for hours. Travis Tritt is another terrific guy and good person who has such a reverence for the traditions of country music, which I could relate to. Carl and Rob Reiner were also entertaining. I wish that interview could’ve gone on all afternoon. 

Are there any thoughts you’d like to share on the current state of our country and world?

Like most people, I’m concerned about what we’ve become as a country. I worry about the world in the sense of things like nuclear annihilation and climate change. But my overall thought is that if we stay steady and concentrate on the things that unite us instead of divide us we’ll be all right. I’m an optimist by nature. It may be a long valley but we’ll come out and be better on the other end. 

What do you find most gratifying about doing “The Big Interview”?

I never was or ever intended to be the smartest guy in the room, but I’ve always loved to learn. In doing these shows I’ve learned a lot about people. It’s like going to graduate school about humans. Having this program at my age and doing work that I really enjoy; my gratitude runs deep.

The Big Interview With Dan Rather” premieres Tuesday, April 16th at 8 p.m. ET on AXS-TV.

Season 7 Line-up:

April 16 – Steve Perry
April 23 – Paul Stanley
April 30 – Cyndi Lauper
May 7 – Foreigner (Mick Jones & Lou Gramm)
May 14 – REO Speedwagon (Kevin Cronin, Neal Doughty, Bruce Hall, Dave Amato & Bryan Hitt)
May 21 – Billy Bob Thornton
May 28 – Carl and Rob Reiner
June 4 – Travis Tritt
June 11 – Boz Scaggs
June 18 – Paul Shaffer