World Premiere of ‘Kansas: Miracles Out of Nowhere’ (FILM REVIEW)

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The historic Lobero theater in Santa Barbara was buzzing with excitement on during the world premiere of the rock documentary about the unlikely rise of the band Kansas to superstardom in the film – Kansas: Miracles Out of Nowhere.  Three members of the band, Phil Ehart (drums), Richard Williams (guitar) and Robby Steinhardt (violin) were in attendance, along with former band manager Budd Carr and the film’s director, Charley Randazzo, all of whom had a triumphant red carpet entrance.

The movie was screened prior to an extensive Q&A session. The film focuses on the “miracle” of how the band rose from their humble beginnings in the “expansive nothingness” of the state of Kansas to their phenomenal worldwide commercial success with mega hit songs like “Dust in the Wind” and “Carry On Wayward Son”. Both of these songs, were amazingly written at the last minute by the band’s guitaris Kerry Livgren, at the end of the recording sessions of the respective albums on which they appear. The film documents the relentless touring and self promotion that the band had to endure to reach their ultimate goal to be a successful rock band. From strong mentoring as the opening act with the English rock legends, Queen, to constant battles for sound control as the opening act for Aerosmith, and a disruptive diva Steven Tyler trying all manners of sabotage, the film is a fascinating look at the pop music world of the time.


Drummer Ehart acted as the bands spokesman during the Q&A and offered up many interesting anecdotes about the documentary and it’s making. Ehart said they wanted to keep the focus on “where these six guys came from and where they ended up, and what that trip was like. He adds, “If it’s a good story and a true story, and kind of a miraculous story, you don’t really need a lot of other stuff that doesn’t affect the story.” The film is not a typical rock documentary full of tales of sex and drugs and petty disputes. Instead there’s plenty of rock and roll, including studio tracks and vintage live footage.

The six band members each get extensive coverage in the film, as does the late music executive Don Kirshner. “We didn’t really realize all the stuff [Kirshner] had done for us,” Ehart says, “and how he hung in there with us until we went back and made this film.”


The fascinating and humorous story of how the band signed with Kirshner’s company is one of the highlights of the film. The band had submitted a demo tape, and eventually Kirshner’s right-hand man, Wally Gold, called them from New York City saying he wanted to check them out in concert. The band knew this was their one shot, so they rented the opera house in the tiny town of Ellinwood, Kan., and to ensure a large, enthusiastic audience they put up signs all over the area advertising that there would be free beer at the concert. The ploy worked and they got signed.

The funniest part of the film concerns Kansas’ opening slot for Aerosmith in the early days. It turns out that Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler didn’t appreciate having opening bands steal the show, and would sometimes resort to unplugging the opening band’s power cords during their performance. Anticipating this when Kansas played at Wichita, their crew set up dummy extension cords so that nothing happened when Tyler pulled them out. A confrontational visit from the hulking Kansas bass player Dave Hope put an end to Tyler’s antics for the rest of the tour.

In the most emotional scene in the film, all six original band members get together to re-create the iconic photo from the back cover of their first album. It was the first time they had all been together in decades, and it was particularly special because two band members have recently had serious health issues, including Livgren who had a stroke in 2009, and Steinhardt, who had a heart attack in 2013.

Singer Steve Walsh recently retired from the band, leaving Ehart and Williams as the only original members. When asked about the future, Ehart said, “We’re looking hopefully to do a new record in 2016. We just continue to tour, and love to tour and love to play. “We’ve got great music. People love to come see us. We’re just very fortunate to still be here. So those are the plans — to keep Kansas music out there.”

The DVD version of Kansas: Miracles Out of Nowhere will be released on March 24.

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6 thoughts on “World Premiere of ‘Kansas: Miracles Out of Nowhere’ (FILM REVIEW)

  1. Scott Reply

    Well…why Kansas hasn’t been inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame is another mystery with this rock committee…while they’re inducting Madonna and the Beastie Boys we sit and wait for the main course as usual…(like taking 30 years to induct Rush)…assholes!…come on!…give this band their due!…Kansas IS Rock n’Roll as pure as America!

    • Lisa Mitten Reply

      I completely agree.

  2. Lisa Mitten Reply

    I am a life long Kansas fan who has appreciated their musical talent since the first time I saw them on Kirshner back in the 70’s. Most documentaries cover the good, the bad, and the ugly, many times leaving a nasty taste in your mouth for the group you admire. This film was a perfect fit for Kansas. It gave insight to their beginnings and success without dragging you through ungodly horror stories. I closed my computer screen and sat back with new knowledge, even greater respect, and a heartfelt closeness to the band members that drew me in so many years ago. Kansas will forever go down in my book as the greatest live musical group of all times. I thank them for letting me pear ever so slightly into their greatness.

  3. Grampy Reply

    I saw Aerosmith in ’76, and it was one of the worst concerts I ever wasted my good money on. This is right in the onset of their drug-haze days, so it’s really no surprise to me that Tyler would pull a BS stunt like that. Kansas was enormously talented, while Aerosmith was merely enormously loud, doped up, and a complete bunch of wasted hacks. I guess old Stevie couldn’t stand being upstaged by clearly superior musicians.

  4. Craig wilson Reply

    Just caught this Documemtary on VH1. When you hear a bands music and it immediatlly transports you to the place and time your were first listening to it and you enjoyed songs that were not the mega hits just as much it’s a good sign that they have a timeless quality that few occupy.

  5. James Reply

    One correction in regards to the article: Carry On My Wayward Son was written by Kerry Livgren at the end of the rehearsals for Leftoverture, not the recording sessions themselves. Kansas was very well rehearsed and played many of their backing tracks live. Live tracking was becoming more rare because you have to have a great performance without mistakes by everyone who is playing. So they would typically write and rehearse all the material for the album prior to the official recording sessions. Dust In The Wind was also offered to the band at the end of the rehearsal sessions for Point Of No Return but instead of being written at the last moment he had been working on it for a while at the insistence of his wife. He had been playing it as an exercise for finger style picking pattern which is basically the same or similar to Travis Picking and his wife would pass him as he was playing in the kitchen and she got on him to write lyrics to it and to present it to the band. When he eventually relented his band mates were unified that it was a great song and that they had to record it.

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