What a difference a week makes.
Last week we were moaning at the “joke” Ron White told calling Kansans a bunch of quitter potatoes.
This week, we couldn’t be prouder to be from the Wheat State.
We try to attend concerts two or three times a year. By coincidence, we attended two concerts last week.
Last Wednesday Melissa Etheridge performed at the Stiefel Theatre in Salina.
Etheridge was born and raised in Leavenworth. She talked about growing up in Kansas throughout the concert, the only one in her home state.
“Why is that?” she seemed to ask her band.
Judging from the packed house, it wasn’t due to a lack of fans.
Etheridge had invited some her high school friends to the concert. She spoke of writing songs in an abandoned boxcar in Leavenworth.
“I’ve known them since kindergarten,” she said of her friends.
She title one of her songs “Kansas City.”
“ “I drove straight through to Junction City
I thought I'd call you in Topeka,
but I didn't want the pity
100 miles to go to Kansas City.” “
At one point she mentioned Abilene during the concert, which got a roar from about a dozen of us from here that attended.
Etheridge is best known for her song “I’m the Only One.”
“ “I’m the only one
Who’ll walk across the fire for you.
I'm the only one
Who'll drown in my desire for you.” “
She also broke a lot of hearts when she announced about the same time that she released that song in 1993 that she was not singing about a man.
For readers that have never heard Missy sing (being a fellow Kansan I don’t think she would mind me calling her by her hometown name), there aren’t too many ballads in her repertoire. She can blow you away with her deep, smoky voice.
As if that wasn’t enough, two nights later we traveled to Hutchinson to see and hear four native Kansans: Phil Ehart on drums, Billy Greer on base, Steve Walsh singing lead vocals and playing the keyboard and Richard Williams on guitar. They were joined by Dale Ragsdale on violin.
The violin probably gave away the name of the band because it is the only band I know, other than Charlie Daniels, that uses the instrument in every single song.
The band, which calls itself Kansas, was celebrating 40 years together by playing at the Kansas State Fair.
And we were there in their audiences, almost from the beginning of their collaboration.
The garage band from Topeka bounced around bars and switched members for several years in the early, early 1970s.
In March of 1974, they released their first album titled simply “Kansas.” The cover featured the painting of John Brown that can be seen in the State Capitol Building.
That summer we saw the band play in a Manhattan bar called Canterbury Court in the Westloop Shopping Center. Being a journalist, well wannabe journalist at the time, who didn’t like the words to their first hit “Can I Tell You?”
“ “If you expect the freedom
That you say is yours,
Prove that you deserve it
Help us to preserve it.” “
A year after their breakout album, the band sold out back-to-back performances for one night at McCain Auditorium in Manhattan. Yep, we were there.
Kansas went on to perform “Song for America,” “Point of No Return,” and “Dust in the Wind.”
“ “Now don’t hang on.
Nothin' lasts forever but the earth and sky.
It slips away
And all your money won't another minute buy.” “
Before the encore performance of “Carry On, My Wayward Son,” last Friday night in Hutchinson, Williams grabbed the microphone.
“I’d like to introduce one of the original members of Kansas, Kerry Livgren.”
My wife posted on Facebook that I about jumped out of my skin and that would be pretty accurate.
You see, Livgren is the writer of most of those famous Kansas songs.
“Nothing equals the splendor.
Now your life's no longer empty.
Surely heaven waits for you.
Carry on, my wayward son.
There'll be peace when you are done.”
There was so much for us quitter potatoes to be proud of last week.
And I haven’t even uttered a single mention of the victories on the football field by the K-State Wildcats, Kansas Jayhawks and the Kansas City Chiefs.