Steve Alter, president of Matrix Architecture, former member of The Rising Suns band, and native of Coffeyville, Kansas will be inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame in Lawrence, Kansas on Saturday, January 13, 2007.
The Rising Suns, a nine-piece show band, performed all across the Midwestern United States from 1966 – 1973. Alter, while in college, performed in the group from 1966 – 68 and played guitar, trumpet and also sang. The Rising Suns’ repertoire included songs from the Temptations, The Four Tops, and James Brown. Alter states, “We had such a great time playing together. We all had the passion and loved writing and arranging our own songs plus playing all the Motown cover songs.” The band was part of Mid-Continent Productions located in Lawrence, Kansas. Mid-Continent Productions promoted six groups that toured the nation opening for major acts.
The Rising Suns only played in auditoriums and armories and opened for groups like Eric Clapton and the Yardbirds and Otis Redding. Alter said, “We’d play seven nights a week during the summer and usually three or four during the school year. We were booked a year in advance and never performed at a club.” The band was on the Johnny Carson Show and the Joey Bishop Show. “We had a great following. Our smallest crowd was 700 – 800 and our largest crowd was 23,000.” The band loved to play complicated and different arrangements and played three-hour shows. Their trademark during the second hour was to perform the James Brown “Live at the Apollo Theatre” album from start to finish without stopping. “The whole crowd would stop dancing and just watch us sing,” said Alter. “It was amazing.”
“I am thrilled for the Rising Suns to receive this honor from the Kansas Music Hall of Fame,” said Alter. The original group will gather back together for the first time in 40 years next week to practice. “Of the former band members, only one has passed on, our lead singer Walter Downing. We are going to perform in his memory next Saturday night.” The former band members are scattered throughout the country and fourteen of them will be in Lawrence to receive this honor. The Rising Suns band also includes another Tulsan, Bill Snow, part of the Tulsa Sound Legend Group.
Steve Alter founded Matrix Architecture 22 years ago and currently serves as CEO. Alter is passionate about Tulsa and is an active community leader. Alter also serves as Chairman of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.