by Ross CAT

by Ross Cat
    SNOWBLIND…..For those of you in this rock and roll region that might have missed either of the two sizzling STYX performances this past summer don’t fret the “Queen of Spades” is on your side. The boys from Chicago opened up the summer concert season along with FOREIGNER at the Darien Lake PAC, not to mention shaking the gorge for a free show at the highly successful Art Park summer concert series in Lewiston.
    For some thirty-five years the Blue Collar brigade of “Renegade” rockers have managed to maintain their Rock and Roll relevance without compromise. While they’ve recently found their way back into the Billboard charts with the 2005 release of “Big Bang Theory” the band knows its strength is on the road as STYX remains a tour de force, playing well over a hundred shows a year. They captured one very special evening in May at the magnificent Blossom Music Center in CLEVELAND as they shared their music and the stage with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra. Available on DVD and CD STYX: One With Everything is a concert for the ages. The STYX classic catalog ascends to new heights; as the exuberance of the 171-piece orchestra and choir, comprised of students aged 13-19, takes the already timeless symphonic songs and turns them into classical rockers.
    STYX has not only survived the highs and lows of the music industry they have maintained a high standard within the band. They’ve had to cope with tragedy (death of drummer JOHN PANOZZO in 1996), and crucial line-up changes including the parting of ways with founding member DENNIS De YOUNG. Despite the sometimes tumultuous times the band has thankfully stayed in tact due largely in part to the “Cornerstone” members; TOMMY SHAW, JAMES (JY) YOUNG, and original bassist CHUCK PANOZZO who continues to tour with the band while bravely battling the HIV virus. CHUCK has also become a strong advocate for gay rights and furthering the education and awareness of the deadly disease; please check out his inspiring website @ (
    The departure of DENNIS De YOUNG in the mid 1990’s didn’t necessarily mean the demise of STYX, but it certainly would cut out the potential of some of the classic catalog without his distinctive vocals. The band didn’t need a “Crystal Ball” to find a new band mate who could handle the daunting duties.
    Our NIGHTLIFE bud and neighbor from the North Country singer/songwriter and keyboard swami LAWRENCE GOWAN was and has been more than up for the challenge; since being invited to “Come Sail Away” almost a decade ago it has been the “Best of Times” for STYX ever since.
    Guitarist JY YOUNG told us earlier this summer about the addition of GOWAN to the band; “At that point we where a band faced with replacing an integral part of the STYX legacy, we had to make some decisions without compromising ourselves or the music. We most certainly didn’t want to try and replicate what DENNIS brought to the band that could only be compared negatively. In LAWRENCE we found a tantalizing talent and diverse musician, in my opinion he can play circles around his predecessor. He had already reached the pinnacle on his own, yet he has never lost the hunger to continue to strive for perfection as an artist, much like ourselves. It’s his musical intangibles that have allowed STYX to move forward and yet revisit the past without apprehension”.
    While GOWAN has since become a stalwart member of STYX the “Criminal Mind” from CANADA has recently found time to revisit the “Strange Animal” he calls his solo career. The live performance recorded in Montreal in 1990 titled GOWAN: Live In Concert was recently released in conjunction with MUCH MUSIC and Linus Entertainment can be found for purchase at his website @ ( The concert captures the Juno Award (Canadian Grammy) at his solo best showing off the captivating talent that got him the invite to join STYX.
    NIGHTLIFE once again had the pleasure to speak with GOWAN about the new DVD releases and what 2007 has in store for STYX.
  R. CAT- Once again thanks for your time LAWRENCE you’ve been a great friend to our city and our publication.
  GOWAN- The pleasure is mine.  I’ve always enjoyed the close relationship I’ve had with Western New York region. I really appreciate your interest in my career both as a solo artist as well as the wonderful times I’m enjoying with STYX.
  R.CAT- The current band line-up has really seemed to gel, the new DVD STYX: One With Everything finds the band really grooving live. Tell us about the experience of playing with the orchestra, the director LIZA GROSSMAN and her fine group of young musicians seem “Spellbound”.
  GOWAN- It really was amazing. The enthusiasm of this talented young group along with LIZA was infectious throughout the band. We managed to fuse a slamming rock show with some amazing orchestral arrangements to make for a special evening; we are so glad that was captured on film for everyone to enjoy. What is even more amazing is how it all came together with very little prep time. Obviously for us we had been playing the music all along on the tour; so it was much more difficult for the young orchestra to learn the arrangements which is a true testament to the talent of these aspiring musicians.
  R.CAT- You also have recently released your very first solo DVD which has made its way to the top ten on the charts in CANADA.  What was it like revisiting that time in your life and career?
  GOWAN- Yeah I was kind of surprised when management sent me a note saying that it sold so well it really is the first solo thing I’ve done in the new millennium. I felt the time was right after I did a few solo shows back in CANADA last year, I realized the music still meant something to me and my fans. It actually was my fan base that became a catalyst for where I’m at today. It was back in 1997 when I had opened for STYX that they discovered me. After my set TOMMY SHAW told me that he was blown away by the interaction between the crowd and me.
    I also hope it will give STYX fans some perspective as to why I’m in the band. The guys have been great allowing me to play some of my songs on our tours. As a matter of fact “A Criminal Mind” has been recorded a couple different times with STYX including a marvelous rendition of it with the Youth Symphony Orchestra on the new DVD.
  R.CAT- I also noticed that there is no “Lost Brotherhood” in the GOWAN family as your brother TERRY was in your solo band playing bass, tell us about that relationship?
  GOWAN- While I’m enjoying my new brotherhood with STYX my brother TERRY who was in my band from 1985 to 1990 has been an amazing support to me in my career. He really was and still is a great sounding board for me keeping me grounded with comments and criticisms that maybe only a family member could make. I’ve had such unbelievable fortune in working with some of music’s finest musicians. I’ve had the honor of working with JON ANDERSON (YES), ALEX LIFESON (RUSH) to name just a few and without their immeasurable contributions I’m sure the level of success that I’m enjoying today might have eluded me.
  R. CAT.-Lastly, what does 2007 have in store for GOWAN and STYX?
  GOWAN- As they say no rest for the wicked, we are going right back at it in the new year. We will be on the road in the States into March and off to Europe until Mid-May. I’m really stoked about the April 28th date as we will be sharing the Wembley Stadium stage with DEEP PURPLE and THIN LIZZY. As for new music we have plenty of material ready to go, as a matter of fact there are two new songs “Just Be” and “Everything All the Time” on the new DVD. So I wouldn’t be surprised if a studio album might surface this year.
    On behalf of STYX and myself I’d like to wish everyone a healthy and Happy Holiday season up in Buffalo, hope to see you in the summer.
    NIGHTLIFE would like to thank LAWRENCE GOWAN once again for his time. Visit the STYX website @ for news and tour dates. Western New Yorkers might also like to know that the STYX Festival weekend will be taking place at the Casino Rama in Orillia, Ontario (; the band will be playing shows May 24, 25 and 26th. NIGHTLIFE will be making the Rock and Roll Roady hope to see you there.
    PRINCIPLE OF MOMENTS…..The term “Nine Lives” is most often referenced to the prowess of a cat.  It’s no coincidence that it is also the title of the new compilation box set from one of Rock’s most prolific figures ROBERT PLANT.
    The most obvious question posed is does this box set include any of his works with the LED ZEPPELIN, the answer to that is a firm NO. The iconic voice that has towered over FM radio airwaves since the 1960’s could have been “Easily Lead” down a path that would lead him into a karaoke career. It is his desire to reinvent himself and his strong convictions along with the self assurance of his legacy that has given fans another chapter to enjoy.
    Despite constant pressure to re-form LED ZEP since they disbanded in 1980 following the untimely death of legendary drummer JOHN BONHAM; PLANT has steadfastly refused to jeopardize the legacy of his  of his band mate and the music they made together as one of music’s most celebrated four-piece bands.
    Like his time fronting LED ZEPPELIN his music is constantly evolving.  For those who may not remember while LED ZEP where filling stadiums and selling records every album was often scrutinized by critics right until the last album “In Through the Outdoor.
    From his first solo release in 1982 “Picture at Eleven” he has continued the trend of marching to the beat of his own drum, or in this case drummer. The first two solo releases PLANT enlisted GENESIS drummer PHIL COLLINS to help with the transition. “Little By Little” he was able to rise above the colossal shadow cast by the excessive success of the mighty ZEPPELIN. His early fame and fortune could have been detrimental to his solo career considering the personal tragedies both he and ZEP endured. It’s as if PLANT had to come out through the indoor following the band decision not to carry on.
    The perfectly packaged compilation includes all nine of PLANT’S solo discs remastered and chock full of bonus tracks from each time period. It also contains an impressive DVD with a recent interview with the “Tall Cool One” as well as interviews with PHIL COLLINS, ROGER DALTRY and LENNY KRAVITZ who credits PLANT as an inspiration to his career. The DVD also includes twenty of his music videos.
    While his solo record sales will never match those of his days with LED ZEPPELIN his true measure of success should be based on staying true himself and the body of work he has created.
    Also out in stores this holiday season is his latest Soundstage release titled ROBERT PLANT and the Strange Sensation. This is his first live solo release, the show was shot last summer as PLANT and his band toured on the strength of the Grammy nominated album “Mighty Rearranger”. PLANT and his new band of gypsies have fused together a montage of worldwide musical influences that have elevated such ZEPPELIN classics like “Black Dog” and “Four Sticks” to a new stratum and is a must see.
    The New Year will see PLANT and his band release another new disc; he is also working on a duets record with the multi-talented ALLISON KRAUSS. And if that isn’t enough PLANT was just voted the #1 vocalist by Hit Parader Magazine. For news and tour dates check out (
    Please be sure to keep your Rock and Roll Coin local this holiday season and take care of all your music needs at any of the five convenient Record Theaters check out (, for a location near you.
    On behalf of the Rock Report and Best of Western New York ( we would like to wish everyone a safe and Happy Holiday Season as well as a prosperous New Year.
**********PEACE and HARMONIES****************
Ross CAT

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