Sunday, May 21, 2006
The show with the youth orchestra will be filmed for a DVD/CD release.
By JOHN BENSON
After nearly three decades, Styx fans may think they have the right to say they've seen it all. Think again.
The popular '70s and '80s arena rock band is coming to town for a special one-time-only show scheduled for Thursday at Blossom Music Center. The plan is for cameras to be rolling for a concert DVD/CD release when Styx is joined by the talented Cleveland's Contemporary Youth Orchestra for a full concert featuring plenty of hits, a few covers and even unreleased material.
"We are the stewards of this incredibly powerful force, and I think that performing with the youth orchestra is an incredible way to sort of impart that to the next generation of musicians," said guitarist/vocalist James Young, calling from Lubbock, Texas. As for the selection of Northeast Ohio for this honor, the Chicago native said former Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum official and Joe Walsh manager David Spero suggested the location, with the band readily agreeing that indeed, Cleveland rocks.
Why this one's different
This isn't the first time Styx -- Young, Tommy Shaw (vocals, guitars), Lawrence Gowan (vocals, keyboards), Todd Sucherman (drums) and Ricky Phillips (bass guitar, backing vocals) -- performed with an orchestra. That show came 10 years ago. However, this upcoming gig is different with Young pointing to the age of the 115-piece Contemporary Youth Orchestra and its accompanying 56-member chorus
"Symphony players in general are a little bit jaded, because the plight of the skilled orchestra musician in general is a very difficult one," Young said. "They're watching upstart rock music people that can play three chords, sell millions of records. These guys can play circles around the [rock players] and are vastly superior in skill and talent. Nonetheless, it's a wacky playing field we all operate on and these young people are still fresh and naive and this is our chance also to sort of mentor them in a small way."
Included in the set are such hits as "Too Much Time On My Hands," "Fooling Yourself [The Angry Young Man]," "Come Sail Away" and "Renegade." There are also two new songs, "Everything All the Time" and "Just Be." Young said the band has high hopes for the latter track, which "is sort of Pink Floyd meets the Moody Blues meets Styx."
Hit with 'Walrus' cover
While most classic rock bands have found tough times at classic rock radio, Styx enjoyed a renaissance a few years ago with its surprise hit cover of The Beatles' "I Am the Walrus." Young said the band eschews covers but decided to perform the legendary Fab Four track at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival in Texas a few years ago. Next thing they know, the program director of a Chicago radio station personally requested a copy of the song to play over the air and soon 170 radio stations across the nation followed suit.
"It's really hard to break through," Young said. "[Classic rock radio] is looking for something that sounds familiar and they don't want to play anything that sounds unfamiliar. So it's a familiar song to people who listen to classic rock radio and it's a new version by a familiar band."
Young has good reason to feel the future of Styx remains bright. There's talk of the upcoming DVD being showcased on PBS with the band continuing its incessant touring schedule of more 100 dates annually. "This current line-up of Styx is the most underrated and best-kept secret that's out there right now," Young said. "And we're on a mission to let the world know."