Stxy at Wente Vineyards


So, I think this is chapter 3 in the the ongoing saga of the “I wanna hang with rock stars” portion of my life. Last night was no exception. J and I (along with my co-worker Carolyn and her hubby Jon) went to see Styx at what was probably the nicest venue I’ve ever seen a rock show at: Wente Vineyards in Livermore, CA. I mean, look at this photo taken from Wente’s site! It’s dinner, wine, mostly rich folks, and this bucolic setting that is anything but rock-n-roll. However, it’s probably a testament to aging boomers (and Gen X’ers like me who are right behind them) that rock shows would eventually be staged in places like Wente for acts who have such a huge catalogue of hits that it doesn’t matter if you’re a big fan or not. I mean, the chances that you’ll know more than just one or two Styx songs is pretty high, so why not go see them, get your fill of wine and food (they serve a very nice buffet) and go to work and talk about your experience (or in my case, blog about it).

Are you wondering how the show was? The band was polished, tight, harmonized well, and played with gusto. Tommy Shaw, JY, and the newer members of the band (Lawrence Gowan on Keyboard and vocals, Todd Sucherman on drums, and Ricky Philips on bass) played so well together, that for a couple of moments, I forgot all about that other guy who fronted the band in its hey day: Dennis De Young.

Chuck Panozzo, an original member of the band, joined the group for a couple of songs toward the end of the set, and that was a nice touch. Chuck’s brother and fellow co-founder of Styx, John died about 10 years ago, and Chuck has been battling AIDS and cancer, so that’s why he’s not well enough to play the entire tour. But since this was the end of Styx’s summer tour, Chuck came out and played a couple of songs.

Now that De Young is out of the picture, the band is back to being a rock band and they rolled out the non-ballad hits that signaled they weren’t just a Dennis De Young cover band anymore. Looking at the back of my Styx Greatest Hits CD, most of the set list for this current tour was right there:



Too Much Time On My Hands

Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man)


Come Sail Away

Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)

The Grand Illusion

Miss America

In addition, to those classics, they did an 18 song medley that reminded me of something Rush did on their 30th Anniversary Tour last year. It was just a kind of power mix of their more minor hits and deep album cuts that was for the true fans in the audience.

Before the show, we tried to talk to JY or Tommy Shaw, but their tour manager made us wait outside the “band area” because he thought we wanted a photo pass to snap a few pictures of the band on stage for the station website. When I said that we wanted to take pictures of us with the band, Mr. Tour Manager said “We don’t do meet and greets.”  Carolyn stepped up and said “Well, during our radio interview with JY, he asked us to come backstage.”  To which, Mr. Tour Manager said “Well, why didn’t you tell me that!”  It was getting late, and the show was about to start, so we huffed and sighed our way back to our seats and settled in for the show.  There was a silver lining, though.  Mr. Tour Manager said “Well, meet me later and I’ll try and get JY to pose for a picture with you.”

Unfortunately, Carolyn’s hubby had to get up early for work (he’s also in radio, and works for 960am The Quake), they had to leave and couldn’t meet JY after the show.

[See Jon’s bio here: ]

J and I enjoyed the rest of the concert and waited in vain for a song that both of us love, but one the band didn’t play: “The Best of Times.” Yeah, I know it’s a sappy song, but we like it, so there! I was kind of buzzed on music and wine after the show, so when we finally met JY, we we told him how much we loved the show and he was all smiles. However, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut and told him that we were a bit disappointed that they didn’t play “The Best of Times.” He was nice, and said “Well, we had so much material to cover, that some songs didn’t make the set.” Which was a nice way of saying “Hey you ungrateful gnat! We just played our butt’s off out there for you, and you have the cojones to criticize our set list? Besides, haven’t you noticed that we hate playing Dennis De Young ballads?” Good times.

Before I sign off, I wanted to say a big “Thank You” to Eric and Cherry. They were kind enough to watch Maya so we could go and play last night.

And on a technical note, I’m having trouble linking to other web sites, so I’ll be posting URLs instead of the usual highlighted text. Seems when I link to another site, it deletes a large amount of text from my post resulting in a lot of rewriting. Grrrr! Sorry about that, but WordPress is getting kind of wiggy on me again and I don’t know why.


I wore my Chicago-style hat for the concert. I don’t think JY got the reference that I was paying homage to their Chicago roots.

Jesus, I gotta stop that stupid “Hey! I’m pointing at the rock star” thing. It’s annoying.

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