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 @ (www.chuckpanozzoplace.com).
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
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
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
@ (www.gowan.org). 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
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
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
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 @ www.styxworld.com
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 (www.casinorama.com); 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
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
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
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 (www.tblweb.com).
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 (www.recordtheratre.com),
for a location near you.
On behalf of the Rock Report and Best of Western New York (www.bestofwny.com/nightlife)
we would like to wish everyone a safe and Happy Holiday Season as well
as a prosperous New Year.