Archive for Thursday, June 4, 2009

80 legends to perform at Old Shawnee Days

June 4, 2009

SHAWNEE — No matter what the temperature Saturday, Shawnee may be the hottest place to be in Kansas City, thanks to one of the biggest bands ever to appear at Old Shawnee Days.

Night Ranger, a successful band in the 1980s with several Top 40 hits, is finding new fans with a resurgence of its music and new albums. Now, as headliner for Saturday’s concert at Old Shawnee Days, the band will show fans in Shawnee why it became popular for songs like “Sister Christian,” “(You Can Still) Rock in America” and “Sentimental Street.”

Originally formed in the early 1980s, Night Ranger’s first hit was “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me.” Kelly Keagy, drummer and writer of the band’s highest-charting hit, “Sister Christian,” said the band’s rise to fame was a whirlwind.

“They were playing us on the radio, it was amazing, it was like ‘wow,’” he said. “We got on some key tours that helped our career – Kiss, Sammy Hagar, .38 Special. We were very lucky – we just wanted to be able to sell enough records to make a second record.”

The second album in 1984 shot them to greater fame with the songs “Sister Christian” and “When You Close Your Eyes.” The band found continued success with several more albums but decided to break up in 1989.

“We just took a little break, and we all had different projects going on,” Keagy said. “It was just like we needed a little break from the band after so many years.”

Keagy said the band’s three original members — guitarist Brad Gillis, Blades and himself — reunited because of their music bond.

“It was about love of playing together as a group,” he said. “… We like playing together on stage, we like writing together, creating songs form scratch, and we just kept it going. Even when we were apart, we kept in touch.”

Night Ranger’s music has popped up in many movies recently and will be featured in an upcoming version of the video game “Guitar Hero,” so Keagy said they’ve seen a younger generation getting interested in the band.

Keagy said the band planned to work on a new record after touring this summer, with the hope of releasing the record next spring or summer. But he said the band’s big hits from the ’80s were still just as fun to play.

“We realize that the audience is going to be singing all those songs,” he said. “It’s a good handful of songs that we had back in the day that people are going to recognize, and they’re going to think of their first concerts.”

But even when Night Ranger plays some of its newer or lesser-known songs, Keagy promised the audience would have a good time.

“We just like to have fun in our sets, so I think even if they don’t know the material, they’re going to have fun because we bring them into it,” he said. “It’s about relating to the audience, and we really know how to do that well now.”


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