NATIVE WINDOW is a band that you know. Well kinda sorta. They’re Kansas but not really Kansas. Say what? Since the two principal songwriters in Kansas (Steve Walsh and Kerry Livgren) proclaimed that they are not going to write any more full length Kansas albums, that left the other guys with some pent up creative frustration. So Rich Williams (the one with the eyepatch and obviously a sense of humor with his blacked out teeth in the CD insert!) grabbed his guitar, David Ragsdale perched his fiddle on his shoulder, Phil Ehart picked up his sticks and Billy Greer strapped on his bass and stepped up to the mic and NATIVE WINDOW opened up a new chapter in the Wheathead legacy.
Carrying on a tad in the tradition of Kansas musicality, you can glimpse touches and flourishes here and there that are reminiscent of their parent band’s sound. Violins are a rare and distinct sound in rock and roll (Charlie Daniels Band, Starship with Papa John Creach, Soozie Tyrell era-Springsteen, Horslips…ok now I’m stretching!) so even the presence of a fiddle is so unique that you’re going to think of Kansas no matter what. With that said though, you don’t have the sweeping keyboards and all the intricate classical overtones that are part and parcel of the Kansas sound. In fact, NATIVE WINDOW is more melodic pop than anything else. The harmonies conjure up Poco at their best and I think that surprised these guys. In fact, I think the WHOLE project ended up surprising these guys.
When they decided to re-band as this band, they really just had the idea of doing SOMETHING productive together. They went into the project with no songs and no pre-conceived notions. So they wrote songs together in collaborative brainstorming sessions with lots of laughs part of the process. Their one criteria was that the songs had to sound good acoustically. And once they realized they could actually harmonize, you couldn’t shut them up.
Bassist Billy Greer is the frontal vocal of this band and he does a nice job. And the songs themselves are way shorter and poppier than most Kansas fodder. It’s a good thing that there is a discernible difference between the two bands as NATIVE WINDOW is opening up for Kansas on their summer tour. It started out as a “ha-ha” kind of thing and evolved into a “why not” kind of thing. I mean think of the expenses saved on the road! Obviously this fact signals acceptance of this side project on Steve Walsh’s part.
For Wheatheads who just can’t wait for the next Kansas crop to come in (which could be a LONG time comin’!), NATIVE WINDOW presents new music in a slightly new forum from some time honored faves. And yes Toto, they’re still in Kansas.