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Date: Mon 28 May, 2001 at 00:00
Headline: Deep Inside We're All The Same

Greetings and Salutations!

I am 29 years old today.

Hang on, I'm actually going somewhere with this...

It's a bit hard to describe to anyone who isn't in my specific age range (perhaps a few years older or younger) just how much of an impact the Star Wars movies had on my life. For my friends and I, they were not just cinematic entertainment, they were burned into us chemically. They shaped our view of the world in ways that family, school and religion were meant to do. They were officially a Big Deal.

In the summer of 1983, long before the Internet as we know it, before well-publicized spoilers and cynical fanboy filters would rule the day, when only one family in our neighborhood had a VCR and we could not conceive of ever owning these films in all of their THX-remastered glory, we would speculate and fantasize endlessly about the possibility of a theatre showing all three back-to-back. It would be the ultimate experience, we said.

An older boy whose name escapes me at the moment once sat in on our musings, and declared that he would rather have front-row tickets to a STYX concert than see any of the films again, marathon or not. To back up his claims, he presented us with a battered record sleeve and dropped the needle on a well-worn LP called Paradise Theatre - the "greatest rock album ever", he assured us.

We all thought he was insane.

Fast-forward a few years later. At fourteen years of age, I have officially been bitten by the music bug. My friends and I have formed a band...of sorts...and Eddie Van Halen has replaced Luke Skywalker in our pantheon. My friend Fozz practically forces a tape of STYX's live album Caught In The Act into my hands, insisting that if I want to hear music that will inspire me I should give a serious listen to this band that his older brother and sister loved so much back in the day. The name of the band rings a bell, and I agree to check it out.

My friend never got that tape back. It was played endlessly and eventually wore out, replaced by a factory tape that I bought myself - which also wore out. I spent dollar after hard-earned dollar tracking down as many STYX albums as I could find, and when CDs became the medium du jour, my first purchase was their best of compilation called A&M Classics. The band held a special place for me because in 1988, there was literally NO information on them. The band had been defunct for some years, and as far as the music press was concerned, it was as if they never had existed. My passion for their music was only surpassed by my curiousity about their story.

Fast-forward again, to the present day. I now make my living (such as it is) as a musician. I have spent the last year and a half of my life assembling a project that has been the most challenging and rewarding that I have ever attempted. One that will take my career (again, such as it is) to the next level. And though I have listened to thousands of albums and discovered many new favorite bands in the interim, STYX still holds a special, inspirational place in my heart. I have seen them re-form and break apart again twice in the past decade, and finally come out of the fog with a line-up that is working relentlessly to put the band's name and music back on the map.

Do I care if other people recognize the greatness that I feel this band embodies? Not really. They've been kicked around and disrespected by many the music community for a long time (and, let's face it, sometimes for understandable reasons) and I'm not going to be able to change that. I am, however, excited at the prospect that they are back, and that I have so many new opportunities to experience their music and energy. And last Friday's concert at the E Center in West Valley City was the best experience yet.

Thom & James Young

I won't bore the three of you still reading this by re-counting the concert in detail, but it was wonderful. As a bonus, I was given the opportunity to go backstage and meet the band. It's rare enough to meet any of your heroes in this life, but rarer still for that meeting not to be a disillusioning experience. They were personable, genuine, and full of positive energy . Amazing, considering the uphill battle they've faced over ther past few years. I couldn't ask for better role models in my attempt to make a go of this music thing.

Thom & Glen Burtnik

Thanks so much for the invitation, Glen. I'd love to do it again sometime.

Oh and by the way, I still think that guy was insane...for me it's Pieces Of Eight all the way, with Equinox a close second. :-)

bye for now,

your humble correspondent
Thom Bowers