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Styx to perform at Penn’s Peak on Saturday

On Saturday, Penn’s Peak will welcome back the Ultimate Classic Rock Hall of Fame band, Styx to its mountain top venue.

The one-night show in the Poconos is part of the band’s 46 performance tour that will take the legendary group on the road all across the country.

Originating in Chicago in 1972, Styx has produced 17 albums with their latest recording, “Crash of the Crown,” released on June 18.

The band’s 1977 recording, “The Grand Illusion” was the first of four straight triple platinum albums, which means they have sold at least three million copies each. Some of their most popular songs include “Come Sail Away,” “Pieces of Eight,” “Blue Collar Man,” (Long Nights) and their all time best- selling single, “Babe,” recorded on their Cornerstone album in 1979.

The unique style and sound of Styx, their name derived from a Greek mythological river from the underworld, includes an eclectic mix of hard rock, progressive rock, acoustic interludes, power ballads, and musical theater. The current band members are Chuck Panozzo and Ricky Phillips on bass guitar, James Young, Tommy Shaw, and Will Evankovich on guitar, Todd Sucherman on drums, and Lawrence Gowan on the keyboard. Each musician plays a multitude of other instruments and shares in the lead and back vocals.

Mike Mettler, resident Styxologist and Official Styx Biographer describes their latest album, “Crash of the Crown” as the band’s “holy mission to fulfill the laser focused vision outlined by guitarist, lead vocalist, and chief songwriter, Tommy Shaw.” The songs were written and produced during the Covid 19 lockdown.

“Absolutely no obstacles were going to get in the way of how we approached creating the album,” said Shaw. “And everything came out exactly like we wanted to hear it.”

Lawrence Gowan has played piano and keyboard for Styx since 1999. Educated in classical piano at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, Canada, his early influences are the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and a slew of the 1970s progressive British Rock bands. Gowan says that the release of “Crash of the Crown” comes at the perfect time.

“This album is something we’d like to describe as a renewal after a cataclysmic event,” he said. “We know that people are eager to come out and hear live music again after the pandemic. There’s been resilience and now it’s time for our songs to help in the healing.”

When asked about playing at Penn’s Peak, Gowan exclaimed, “I love the place. We’ve played at two Super Bowls and Wembley Stadium in England and in theaters and hockey rinks, but the Peak is a great room with lots of character. We expect an intense crowd, especially if it’s the first time in 16 months they’ve come to a show since being isolated.”

For Gowan and the entire band, the long layoff brought a mix of “elation, butterflies, and even a little fear” when they did their first post-pandemic gig in St. Augustine, Florida.

“As soon as we saw the smiles on their faces and we started to play, everything seemed fresh and new again.”

Asked if singing crowd favorites like “Babe,” and “Come Sail Away” ever gets boring, Gowan explained that performing these songs over and over again never gets old.

“Although the words and the melodies are the same, we have new experiences each day that bring these songs into another meaningful understanding,” he said.

The evolution of a new Styx song from conception to a final recording can take form in a half an hour, a couple of weeks, or even months. Gowan explained the process.

“A new song idea can come from an experience one of us has had or a simple phrase that floats around in one of our heads that becomes a musical hook as to where the lyrical part should go. I wrote “Criminal Mind” about a man being locked behind bars for my solo album when I had a friend who was a prison guard in the Toronto penal system and after I played it for the members of Styx when I joined them, they liked it so much, it’s now a regular song on our stage playlist.”

Gowan said the band co-writes new songs and “cohesiveness is the result of a final agreement after what appears to be a never-ending predictability.”

The 15 song new album totals about 40 minutes with the band’s intent to make the combined compilation “a complete statement” about the theme of renewal.

When Gowan thinks about himself and the band members of Styx dedicating much of their lives to writing and playing music, he feels that there is a certain immortality to their songs as evidenced by the fact that many of their concert fans are now under 30 years old.

“Who would have thought 200 years ago that Beethoven’s music would still be performed by the London Symphony today,” he said. “Rock music is on the way to proving the same thing.”

The extraordinary sounds of Styx have been enjoyed by fans for 49 years and with their Hall of Fame classics and a brand- new album, their music will soon be moving into another half century with no end of its popularity in sight.

Styx will perform at Penn's Peak on Saturday. The concert was rescheduled after the pandemic shut down venues last year. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS