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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

STYX in concert and a private interview with Lawrence Gowan

If you know who this is chances are you're Canadian :) I know who he is because I'm married to a Canadian and because I got to meet Lawrence Gowan Sunday night.

He was (and still is) a very successful Canadian musician in his own right before joining the rock band STYX 14 years ago as their keyboardist and co-lead vocalist.

Why do I have pictures of him? Because after purchasing tickets to the STYX concert at The Mountain Winery Summer Concert Series, hubby contacted Gowan on the "internets" and asked if he'd like to be interviewed on his public access TV show John Wants Answers. Gowan took a peek at an episode and agreed to come on board. So, just a couple of hours before their show last weekend, John sat down with Gowan to chat about his career and the many times their paths had crossed over the past two decades. He even had autographs and photos of himself with Gowan to prove his claims. LOL

I won't tell you now why Gowan looks like he can't believe his eyes!

The interview was HILARIOUS. Gowan could not have been nicer or funnier. I'd tell you what happened but I don't want to give away any spoilers before the episode airs next month. Suffice to say this will be the most entertaining John Wants Answers episode to date. I will tell you that John did give Gowan a copy of his new CD Smelter. Gowan's immediate and delayed reactions to the CD after the show still have both John and I laughing. I'll be sure to share the link when the show airs in October. If you're a Gowan or John Wants Answers fan I think you'll love it.

And then there was this: Rock to the Rescue. It's a non profit 501(c)3 fund raising campaign founded by STYX and run by Tommy Shaw's daughter Hannah. Each time the band plays in a city they choose a local charity and raise funds for it at the show. That night you could buy a ten dollar raffle ticket to win a guitar autographed by the entire band. The proceeds were donated to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley.

I thought to myself if I won the guitar I would even learn how to play it! Sadly, I didn't win. I was a bit consoled that Keith told me that even if I'd won I wouldn't play that guitar or I'd rub the autographs off so I guess it was ok that I didn't win. My short lived dream of learning to play the guitar began and ended in just under two hours. LOL

I did however get a cool, purple, STYX Renegade T-shirt. I'm going to wear it when I'm out exploring the world next year in my mini canned ham trailer I'm going to build this winter because everything about building a trailer and going camping in it, relative to my sheltered life, makes me feel like a renegade. In fact, I'm definitely the renegade in my family so I can wear my shirt proudly even before I build my trailer.

The interview was supposed to be 20 minutes long but Gowan stayed twice as long because the two of them were really on a roll. After we packed up all of the gear we grabbed a bite at the winery.

This was my $21.00 dinner. $17.00 for the Fish and Chips and $4 for the H20.

Again, I have to warn the food is expensive at the winery. Remember the tiny Ciao Bella gelato I had the last time we were there to see STYX in 2010? If you're on a budget eat before you arrive. We didn't have to worry about cost because hubby treated Keith and I to dinner for helping him as his production crew that evening.

To purchase this order of Fish and Chips, two burgers, a Coke and a water cost $61.00! *Gasp, gasp, thud* Though I will say that the food was very good. My meal was more expensive than overpriced. And there was so much I couldn't even finish all of it. I'd say it was 70% expensive but worth it to 30% overpriced. And yes. I would order it again. It was that good.

And then it was time to wait for STYX to take the stage. . . I was the lucky girl that night. In order to be able to get some great pictures to go along with the tv interview they offered hubby a media/photography pass that evening. He gave it to me. So for the first three songs I was able to go stand in aisles along the front row. After, I was allowed to use my camera with my zoom lenses from anywhere in the winery. Sweet!

Lawrence Gowan (Lead Vocals and Keyboard)

Tommy Shaw (Lead Vocals and Guitar)

James "J.Y." Young (Lead Vocals and Guitar)

Ricky Phillips (Bass and Vocals)

Todd Sucherman (Drums)

Chuck Panozzo (Founding member and special guest that evening)

The first thing I noticed the first time I saw Gowan perform with STYX was that his keyboard is on a rotating platform so he spins as he plays.

He also hops up onto it during the show.

And he plays the keyboards backwards. Yes, I said backwards. Here he's gripping with one hand and playing with the other. I don't know how he does it. . .

But he does. Look, both hands!

Tommy Shaw never disappoints. One of the things I love most about this band is that each member is a great performer. In recent years I've been to a few shows where it felt as if the band was just dialing in their effort. With STYX you get real energy and passion. It makes the show so much more fun to get into!

And while he's an awesome guitar player, song writer, and vocalist, one of my most favorite things about Tommy Shaw is that he loves to hand wash dishes. I do too and pretty much for the same reason. Hubby often says he wants to be a rock star. Remember his Smelter music video I recently blogged about? That video was the product of having (as hubby puts it) "more money than sense." Occasionally I remind him part of being a rock star like Tommy Shaw is to find zen in the act of dish washing. So far it hasn't inspired him to do more housework. LOL

I love that I captured this shot of Chuck Panozzo and J.Y. together. They are the only original members of STYX still performing as STYX. Though no longer full time, Chuck often appears as a guest guitarist. Since he was there two years ago and Sunday night we assumed he must live in the Bay Area. We were very surprised when he told us after the show he lives in Florida!

HA! I was a bit startled when Ricky Phillips spotted me crouched in a little ball on the ground with my camera in the front row, walked towards me, and pointed straight into it. I wish the front row pictures had come out more clear but it turned out the massive amounts of vibration coming out of the speakers I was crouched in front of made it pretty impossible to hold the camera absolutely steady. LOL. Though I'm not complaining. It was a nice problem to have.

I've often found the hardest member to photograph is always the drummer. They're literally hidden behind their equipment, their arms and drumsticks. I was glad I was able to get a few clear shots of Todd that night.

And it was Jimmy Johnson's Birthday! That's him facing the camera. So Tommy made an announcement and a flaming cake was brought forth. Turns out Jimmy has been Tommy Shaw's personal guitar tech since 1997. It was a fun and spontaneous moment.

J.Y. and Lawrence Gowan

I think Tommy Shaw let an audience member play his guitar. During the show!

Ah, it was great. My favorite song is Renegade. I listen to it in my car all the time. Over and over. If hubby were with me it would drive him crazy. It's one of the reasons why we always drive everywhere in his car, so he can control the stereo >:)

Too soon the show came to its end. They played for 90 minutes but I wished they'd played 90 more. They always leave me wanting more!

A few shots I thought would like nice as black and whites.

And I had to show you the shoes Gowan wore during his interview because you won't see them on the tv show. Toe shoes! I think I need to get a pair and wear them when I'm hauling my tiny trailer around next year. They seem like the kind of shoes a quirky girl would wear while hauling a trailer.

With backstage passes we were able to hangout a bit at a small meet and greet when the concert was over. When it wrapped up one of the people on staff was dismayed to see the guests hadn't eaten all of the chocolate cake that had been set out for us. I would have but was so full from my fish and chips I couldn't eat another bite. So, she encouraged me to take a piece with me. LOL. It was as if she could read my mind.

If you've never been to a STYX concert you should go. They've become one of my two most favorite concert bands. You can check out their tour dates on their website by Clicking Here. Remaining upcoming shows in 2012 in this order include:

Spokane, WA (Tomorrow Night!)

Billings, MT

Deadwood, SD

Niagara Falls, ON

Sewell, NJ

Wabash, IN

Troy, OH

Reading, PA

Harris, MI

Nashville, TN

Biloxi, MS

Bossier City, LA

Provo, UT

The Grand Illusion/Pieces of Eight - LIVE in concert
Both albums in their entirety!
Las Vegas, NV

Scottsdale, AZ

Waukegan, IL

Merrillville, IN

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