Styx bursts back onto the scene with TV appearances, new DVD and series of shows

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Styx is hitting the airwaves and the roadways again — even as Tommy Shaw, James “JY” Young, Chuck Panozzo, Lawrence Gowan, Ricky Phillips and Todd Sucherman celebrate the upcoming DVD release of Styx: The Grand Illusion/Pieces Of Eight Live, to arrive on January 31.

It all starts Wednesday, January 11, with a performance on “The Rosie Show,” which will air at 7 p.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. For the performance of “Come Sail Away,” host Rosie O’Donnell accompanied the band on her own drum kit. Styx resumes touring on Friday, with newly announced concert dates attached below.

The band’s classic episode of VH1’s “Behind The Music” has been updated, as well. Now called “Behind The Music Remastered,” it will air on Saturday, January 14 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on VH1 Classic. Next up: NBC will air “Improv-Ice Starring STYX” on Sunday, January 15 at 4 p.m. ET/PT, which was filmed in Greenville, S.C. at the Bi-Lo Center and features champion figure skaters Johnny Weir, Michael Weiss, Nancy Kerrigan, Jeremy Abbott, Ryan Bradley, Sasha Cohen, Nicole Bobek and Mirai Nagasu performing to various STYX classics. All of their routines were choreographed the day of the show.

The HDNet channel will re-broadcast the 2006 concert special, “One with Everything: Styx and the Contemporary Youth Orchestra of Cleveland,” on Sunday, January 22 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. STYX joined forces with Cleveland’s Contemporary Youth Orchestra — a 171-piece orchestra and choir composed of students aged 13-19 — to perform various STYX classics.

Then, at month’s end, there’s Eagle Rock Entertainment’s new Styx: The Grand Illusion/Pieces Of Eight Live on DVD, Blu-Ray and DVD/2CD. This show was recorded November 9, 2010 at the historic Orpheum Theater in Memphis, on the tour that saw Styx perform both signature albums in their entirety for the first time. The 20-song, two-hour and 11-minute presentation also includes the bonus feature “Putting On The Show,” an inside look at the people and equipment needed to stage such a massive spectacle.

Here’s a look at previous thoughts on Styx. Click through the links for complete reviews …

SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST – STYX: A band suspended forever between the formalism of Dennis DeYoung’s Broadway pretensions and the harder edges of James Young and Tommy Shaw, Styx sounded different every time it came on the radio. Yet, critics insisted, somehow the same: Mediocre. They were, by turns, soft-prog keyboard-tweaking intellectuals, CroMagnon guitar shredders and dorky show-tune pompsters … though with very little circumstance. Every gesture, as Lester Bangs once wrote, is writ huge — to the point of flatulence. (DeYoung knows he’s not English, right?) That makes them easy to hate, or love, or whatever. They were, at once, everything … and thus, to many, nothing. Yet … how many times have we turned this stuff up? Here, we sort through it all (the adult-contemporary crap, the hair-sprayed arena rock, the robot thing) to uncover a few clues to Styx’s enduring fame — from ‘Equinox,’ ‘Crystal Ball,’ ‘Grand Illusion,’ ‘Paradise Theater’ and, yes, even ‘Kilroy Was Here.’

ONE TRACK MIND: STYX, “DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD” (2011): There’s a world-weary melancholy, a hard-won realism, to Styx’s new song that didn’t exist in Tommy Shaw’s fun-rocking “Renegade” days, and that points the way out of the band’s more recent habit of backtracking. It’s not just the rest of Regeneration, Vols. I and II, which finds Styx rerecording some of its best-known tracks with next-generation singer Lawrence Gowan. In fact, since the departure in 1999 of Dennis DeYoung, Shaw and Co. have issued five concert recordings and — in the last four years alone — at least seven best-of packages. Styx’s most recent original long-player was Big Bang Theory from all the way back in 2005, leaving many to wonder if the group was spent creatively. Fast forward to “Difference in the World,” as Shaw, over a plaintive guitar shape, admits: “It’s hard to keep from giving up. It’s hard to make a difference in the world today.” But, through the course of a complex and involving musical soundtrack, Shaw rouses himself to try again — in a nice metaphor for the band itself.

TOMMY SHAW – THE GREAT DIVIDE (2011): Don’t come in looking for a pickin’-and-grinnin’ “Renegade,” or a hillbilly take on “Too Much Time on My Hands” — two of the more memorable sides he’s written and recorded with Styx, his rock and roll day job. No, The Great Divide, featuring 11 new songs that Shaw either wrote or co-wrote, finds him on guitar, mandolin and resonator guitar alongside a terrific group of rootsy talents. Shaw comes by all of this honestly, believe it or not. The Great Divide is no bored dilettante move. As a boy growing up in Montgomery, Ala., Shaw remembers sitting in the backseat of a 1958 Chevy listening to the legendary Grand Ole Opry radio broadcasts from WSM in Nashville. And he brings that same sense of wonder and exuberance to the project.

DEEP CUTS: STYX, “MISS AMERICA” (1977): There’s a real simple reason why I like “Miss America”: it’s that dope guitar riff. A good, straight, down the line, butt-kicking head thrashing American riff. That aggressive galloping riff, performed by Shaw, goes hand-in-hand with JY’s snarling vocals, who sneers at the facade of the USA’s most famous pageant, and after one of DeYoung’s surging synth surges, Young takes a solo. He’s not a terribly original guitarist, but it’s as nasty as his vocals. “Miss America” was one of those moments when Styx was actually great, putting that dual lead-guitar attack to some good use. They didn’t do that enough for my tastes, but when I go back and play the high school soundtrack of my memories, this is the Styx song that gets the airplay on my mental radio.

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The latest announced tour dates from Styx, beginning later this week in New Orleans:

Fri, 1/13: New Orleans, LA, House of Blues
Sat, 1/14: Ft. Worth, TX, Billy Bob’s
Wed, 1/25: Anaheim, CA, The Grove
Thu, 1/26: Santa Ynez, CA, Chumash Casino
Fri, 1/27: Temecula, CA, Pechanga Casino
Sat, 1/28: Reno, NV, Silver Legacy Casino
Wed, 2/1: Wenatchee, WA, Town Toyota Center
Fri, 2/3: Tacoma, WA, Emerald Queen Casino
Sat, 2/4: Coquitlam, BC, Red Robinson Show Theatre
Fri, 2/10: Las Vegas, NV, Green Valley Ranch/Grand Events Center
Sat, 2/11: Wendover, NV, Peppermill Concert Hall
Fri, 3/2: Mt. Pleasant, MI, Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort
Fri, 3/9: Miami, FL, Magic City Casino Amphitheater
Sat, 3/10: Silver Springs, FL, Twin Oaks Amphitheatre

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