Kasim Sulton's On The Road With Utopia!

by John A. Wilcox

My first exposure to Kasim Sulton was in 1976. I'd heard a cut from Steve Hillage's magical album, L, and snagged a copy at the local Sam Goody In addition to learning there's a drummer out there named John Wilcox, I was blown away by the chops on the album. My first exposure to these fine Utopia players! I asked Sulton about that album: That was my first session. Before Utopia even started recording, we were rehearsing for live shows when I first joined the band. Todd got to produce Steve Hillage and they came up to Woodstock into Bearsville. That was the first proper album that I had ever played on. Even before Utopia. That was a trip. He was very spiritual. Very astrologically conscious. "We have to record tonight because there's a full moon." That was a real trippy experience for me. Here I am this kid from Staten Island. Born in Brooklyn, raised on Staten Island. All of a sudden I'm thrust into this record world. Todd Rundgren is making records for Steve Hillage and we're talking about putting pyramids on stage and water fountains and going over to England to open for Led Zeppelin. It was a lot!

As Todd Rundgren added Sulton, Wilcox & keyboardist Roger Powell to the fold, Utopia hit high gear with albums like Ra, Oops! Wrong Planet, Adventures In Utopia and Deface The Music. Songs like Real Man, Love Is The Answer, Caravan, Road To Utopia, Hiroshima, and Rock Love were ever-present FM radio classics. Utopia were a big deal on the radio and on the road. By the 1986, the band wound things down and Rundgren focused more on solo efforts. A few shows in 1992 and fundraising gigs in 2011 were a sort of coda. But the audience was still out there and it sparked Sulton in recent days. For the longest time people would come up to me and say "Any chance Utopia's going to get back together again? We'd really love to see you." My answer was always "Well, you know, everybody's very busy. We'll see what happens. You never know. Never say never." I just got tired of answering that same way. I thought to myself "You know what would be really cool? If I did my own version of the band." So I went to Todd and said "Hey, Todd, I'm thinking of doing a few shows under the auspices of 'Kasim Sulton's Utopia.' Is that cool?" He said "Yeah, sure. I don't care. Do whatever you want." So I put 3 shows together and they sold out immediately. We had a lot of fun. It's a movement!

I asked Sulton who is joining him on these live excursions: I have a drummer who's been doing this with me for the last 2 years. A kid named Andy Ascolese. He's a brilliant musician. Pretty much a virtuoso piano player, guitar player, bass player, singer, drummer. He does everything. He's playing drums for me on these shows. Gil Assayas - who filled in for Roger Powell on the 2018 Utopia tour - he's playing keyboards with me on these shows. Unfortunately, I usually use Jesse Gress on these shows. Jesse's been playing with Todd since the 90s. He came down with the flu early in January and it was a really, really bad case. He's recuperating right now and not going to be able to do these shows with me. I have Bruce McDaniel who plays in Ed Palermo's Big Band. Kasim's Sulton's Utopia will be blazing through the Utopia classics the fans demand. But wait! There's more! Sulton's also dusting off a few of the deeper cuts for the shows! There's 1 song in particular from Deface The Music that I always thought was a really cool song called Hoi Polloi. That was really sweet. I just thought it would be nice to do that. There's another song from Adventures In Utopia that we had never done live before called Wild Life. That was always a favorite of mine. The song that we hadn't done in the longest time - right after we released Oblivion, we toured behind it and we did a song called Love With A Thinker. I always liked that song but we only did it for 1 tour so I pulled it out again for these shows.

As Kasim Sulton confided to me : They're getting a night of music they probably haven't heard in 30 years! Don't miss your opportunity to hear an evening of classic Utopia! Earth is the planet of choice. Feel free to bring your own pyramid!

Kasim Sulton's Utopia Live

3/3: Boston, MA - City Winery Boston
3/5: Old Saybrook, CT - The Kate
3/6: Pawling, NY - Daryl's House
3/8: Buffalo, NY - Tralf Music Hall
3/10: Cleveland, OH - Music Box Supper Club
3/11: Chicago, IL - City Winery Chicago
3/13: Edwardsville, IL - The Wildey Theatre
3/14 Cincinatti Ohio - The Ludlow Garage
3/16 Nashville, Tenn - City Winery Nashville
3/17 Atlanta, GA - City Winery Atlanta
3/19 Rocky Mount, VA - Harvest Performance Center
3/20 Jim Thorpe, PA - Mauch Chunk Opera house
3/22 New York, NY - The Iridium


All photos are copyright their respective owners.

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