The Casino File: Classic-rock unit Kansas at Ocean AC; Nobu expanding to Caesars; BIG winner at Resorts, more

Darrow talks with Kansas lead singer Ronnie Platt about the show – a ‘greatest hits’ program featuring such tunes as “Carry On Wayward Son,” “Dust In the Wind” and “Point Of Know Return.”
Kansas, carrying on.
Kansas, carrying on.EMily Butler Photography

Many veteran musical acts, regardless of genre, have no issues with phoning in their performances. It’s not that they purposely give less than 100 percent, but rather that they aren’t overly concerned with providing their audiences with the best possible sonic experience.

And then there’s Kansas, which on Oct. 2 hits Ovation Hall at Ocean Casino Resort .

According to lead singer Ronnie Platt, the band founded 48 years ago in Topeka, Kan. takes seriously its obligation to its fans.

“One thing I wasn’t prepared for is how much this band drills,” said Platt during a recent phone chat. “Every show that we do, we have a rehearsal room and we are constantly tweaking and polishing things. If something was, you know, a little, off-course the night before, we’re drilling that song the next day in the rehearsal room, before we do it again.

“And [remaining original members, drummer Phil Ehart and guitarist Rich Williams] are relentless about that. It's just a work ethic and a desire to keep that musical quality at its peak.”

Platt, a 53-year-old Chicago-area native, has been Kansas’ front man since the 2014 retirement of founding vocalist Steve Walsh. His backstory is literally the stuff of movies; a similar tale was the basis of the 2001 film Rock Star, in which Mark Wahlberg portrayed lead singer Rob Halford’s plucked-from-obscurity replacement in the heavy metal outfit Judas Priest.

Prior to joining Kansas, Platt was a full-time truck driver and part-time cover-band singer who grew up a major fan of the group whose stock-in-trade has always been a mix of radio-friendly pop songs and more adventurous progressive-rock modes. One day, he got a text from a friend asking if he was aware that Walsh had left Kansas. He wasn’t, but quickly sent a Facebook message to Williams, who had actually seen Platt perform and was impressed by what he heard—so much so that Williams invited him to a tryout in Atlanta. The rest, as they say, is history.

While Platt unsurprisingly acknowledged his life has been significantly altered by the gig, he insisted it’s not what most people might imagine it is. For instance, he admitted he is hardly a “one-percenter” when it comes to his financial status: “I’m still driving my 2003 Ford truck with 215,000 miles on it,” he laughed. And he noted that he was caught off-guard by how all-encompassing is being in the band.

“The thing that you're not prepared for is this lifestyle,” he said. “I won't call it a job because a job is something you work at every day and then you get off and the rest of the day is yours. This is a lifestyle because when you become a part of a band like Kansas that tours, you're gone all the time and you belong to the band 24/7.”

As is the case with virtually every classic-rock era band still on the boards, Kansas’ original lineup is no longer intact. Among the missing are the two most prominent former Kansans, Walsh and violinist Robbie Steinhardt, who died of complications from pancreatitis July 17 at age 71. No doubt there are those who will insist that with so few charter members, the unit is no longer worthy of the Kansas name and is now just a cynical commercial endeavor. It is a notion with which Platt vehemently disagrees.

“There will be people who say, ‘It's not Kansas without Steve; it's not Kansas without Robbie or [multi-instrumentalist-composer Kerry Livegren].’ That's like me saying, it's not the Chicago Bears without Jim McMahon or Mike Ditka,” he reasoned.

“Phil and Rich chose the people to fill the vacancies through the years with people that they really felt were the right fit and could keep that Kansas product true.”

For tickets, click here

Nobu hails Caesars

For years, Nobu restaurants and hotels have been places to see and be seen for the glitterati in such locales as New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. And now, the brand whose founders include Hollywood deity Robert DeNiro, is Boardwalk-bound.

Earlier this week, Caesars Atlantic City announced it has signed a deal with the brand. The Nobu Hotel Atlantic City project does not include any new construction, but will encompass the renovating and rebranding of part of the existing hotel-room inventory as well as the sprucing up of various areas of the midtown gambling den. A Nobu restaurant is also on the drawing board. Look for a summer, 2022 opening.

More to eat in AyCee

The peak-attendance season is over in Atlantic City, but the parade of restaurant openings continues.

The latest to debut are Red Bowl 88 at Bally’s Atlantic City and Sandpiper Coastal Bar & Grill at Hard Rock Hotel Casino Atlantic City.

Red Bowl 88’s menu emphasizes what is described as “authentic Asian Pacific cuisine.” Specialties of the house include seafood and stir-frys, house special lobster, scallion lamb chops, braised oxtail, rice wine drunken chicken, and Peking duck. The eatery is open seven days a week.

Over at Hard Rock, the 240-capacity Sandpiper focuses on tapas plates featuring locally sourced fish and seafood prepared with nouvelle cuisine flourishes.

The eclectic bill of fare includes spicy mussels with coconut milk, kaffir lime, and Thai chilis; lump-crab stuffed oysters with Dijon mousseline (sauce); shrimp with cheddar grits, andouille and Creole sauce; kielbasa with caramelized onions, cheddar pierogi and sour cream and ravioli with herb ricotta, arugula pesto, guanciale (cured meat from pig jowls) and heirloom tomato.

Sandpiper Coastal is open Friday through Tuesday.

A ‘Wheely’ big jackpot hit at Resorts

It’s not a million-dollar smile a Hazlet, N.J. woman identified only as “Donna” has these days, it’s a $1,644,349 smile.

That’s how much she won last weekend on a Wheel of Fortune slot machine at Resorts Casino Hotel. The payout is among the largest the city has seen in the past decade.

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