Sunday, February 15, 2009

Styx rocked my face!

I have been a Styx fan since I heard Come Sail Away at age 12 in Winslow Arizona on a tiny transistor radio that had a crummy, tin-sounding speaker that you had to hold right up to your ear. It was broadcast on X-Rock 80, a pirate AM radio station in Tijuana Mexico that used to blast across the southwest to avoid U.S. radio regulations. That was the first song that ever "spoke" to ME, as opposed to, say, my parents music. About 3 years ago, Dennis DeYoung who wrote the song, appeared with the Orange County Symphony and the Pacific Children's choir and a small 4-piece rock band and performed that song in a proper symphony hall. He knocked it out of the park that night and that song re-inspired me just as it had when I was 12! As a fan, I have purchased everything that Styx has ever commercially released and all solo and side projects even a few soundboard bootleg recordings.

One fallacy of the business model of the music industry, however, is that while I have only purchased Come Sail Away 5 or 6 times, (8-track, a couple of cassettes, a couple of times on CD, a digital copy, and a couple of live versions) I have "consumed" it thousands of times without paying for it again. While they have made a few musical mis-steps, Styx has produced a body of work that has moved me and that I have always appreciated. The least I can do to show my appreciation for such a body of work is to go to the concerts once in awhile and pay for a live airing of some of those songs that I love- and buy a concert T-shirt.

6 weeks ago, Styx played practically in my back yard at the Tempe Town Lakes Fiesta Bowl Block Party on New Years Eve. I was working elsewhere in Phoenix- see older posts for my DJ adventures that night. Thanks to the serendipity of the universe though, I had a DJ job in Santa Monica California Friday night and Styx was also in town for about 5 shows around Los Angeles and San Diego. I sat in the 6th row for a Styx show this week in San Diego, I had a great visit with my son Javin in Riverside, turned in a career performance at the Santa Monica gig and was offered 5 more gigs afterwards. The money from the gig paid for the tickets, the fuel, the hotel room etc. God Bless America!

Many years ago, I happened to be playing Come Sail Away at a Grand Opening/retail promotion with the Laker Girls when a travelling gospel choir pulled their bus into the parking lot for a meal break. One of the lead female voices came over to introduce herself and say "hello" and stretch her legs and back and see what was going on. She starting singing along a bit while we were talking. She was an obvious talent and I quickly handed her a mic. A half dozen of her companions joined her for an impromptu Baptist gospel choir rendition of one of the great rock songs of the rock era. I mixed in a longer live concert version to keep the beat going for them. What a fantastic talent! Anybody who wasn't already a Styx fan converted that day and we worship at the shrine that is Styx. "A gathering of Angels appeared above my head. They sang to me this song of hope and this is what they said, they said, Come sail away, Come sail away, Come sail away with me!"

Funny story from my road trip last weekend- This is Lawrence Gowan, Styx's Keyboardist and vocalist.

I was staying in the giant hotel/casino where the concert venue was. After I checked in, I was approached for autographs 4 times just getting from my room to one of the restaurants for some dinner and then on to the concert venue. My waitress thought I was with the band too and swore she saw me on the picture on the huge electronic marquee outside and on posters in the lobby and casino and asked for an autograph. Here's a recent pic of me in my Rock Star DJ persona... I guess there is a bit of a resemblance.

I corrected them as to my identity and told them that I took it as a great compliment. We exchanged some Styx stories that fans would tell and then they still didn't believe that I wasn't with the band.

Anyways, they all seemed very happy as they walked away with their "Keep Rockin' ~Curtis Whipple" autographs!


everyday katie said...

Autographs? I love it. That really has to be the biggest compliment to a die hard styx fan.

I've always loved "Come Sail Away" myself. I even played when I auditioned for the keyboard in some after school high school group that the band teacher was trying to put together. I think he chose me just because I picked that song. Unfortunately, the group disinegrated before we even made it to a competition.

So is it that brief time you lived with our family when I was a little girl that subconsciously instilled a love for that song in my brain? Really. I don't know why I feel so attached to that song. But I do love it and probably have you to thank.

Curtis Whipple said...

Well, the song is kinda about how hard it is sometimes to realize your dreams, but we keep dreaming anyway in the face of people who tell us that we can't do it, that we aren't good enough, that we ain't got the talent, we're not beautiful enough... We keep plugging along and keep dreaming anyway and let the angels do the rest. That's probably why the song rings true to lots of people.

Cynthia said...

Autographs? Pretty cool.I like Styx too. Maybe your love for the band influenced us all.

Unknown said...

Styx is one of those bands that I can imagine would do a great job live. Really, that's what makes the difference between a good band and bad one. Anyone can sound good in a studio. But it takes talent to sound good live. It's the main reason I like bands like The Aquabats, De Novo Dahl, Tally Hall, and Guster. You always come out of a good concert feeling good for days.

And speaking of good concerts...Feb 27th up here in Orem, MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice. It's gonna be huge.

Aysha Boushnak said...

You were actually the one to introduce me to Styx:) When I was 10 ..My second CD ever purchased was "Styx Greatest Hits (95)" So thankyou! Wow request autographs. I can asolutely believe that..precisely because you always look like a rock star. Well Bro Whipple I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. Reminds me how much I miss the Whipples. Give your wife a shout "I MISS YOU!" and hug to Shaw for me please:) I hope all is well with you guys:D

Aysha Boushnak said...
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