Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

August 15, 2013

Closest thing to Utopia on stage Thursday in Buffalo

Night & Day — On Oct. 31, 1982, I witnessed a show that changed my life. Todd Rundgren, Kasim Sulton, Roger Powell and Willie Wilcox, collectively known as Utopia. Within a few weeks, a friend of mine who was a local disc jockey for a rock radio station began sharing cassette tapes of the band’s live performances, and soon afterward began what most and my friends called an “odd obsession.”

The advantage of being a Utopia fan is that the band members lead you in many musical directions. Todd’s production work leads you to big names like Grand Funk, Meat Loaf and Cheap Trick. Keyboardist Roger Powell toured with David Bowie and even is mentioned in Pete Townshend’s autobiography. Drummer Willie Wilcox’s resume includes work with Hall and Oates and Stacey Q. Finally, bassist Kasim Sulton, his list includes Joan Jett, Meat Loaf, Celine Dion, Bon Jovi, The New Cars and Blue Oyster Cult.

Utopia last performed together in 1992. Since then Kasim Sulton is the only member of the four piece unit that has worked with Todd Rundgren on a consistent basis. Sulton will be part of Rundgren’s band in Buffalo along with guitarist Jesse Gress, keyboardist John Ferenzik and drummer Prairie Prince.

Both Rundgren and Sulton will be in town Thursday at the free Buffalo Canalside show.

Since his days in Utopia Kasim’s services have been in heavy demand. For this tour he had to decide whether to continue to tour with Blue Oyster Cult or go on the road with Todd.

“The way Blue Oyster Cult books their shows is very different; if they get an offer for a show in a week they may take it. When the Todd tour came along there weren’t many BOC shows booked for the summer so I was caught between a rock and a hard place,” Sulton said during a recent phone interview from his home in the New York City area.

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