Styx’s Young ready to fire up FD

Shellabration marks the first time Styx has played in Fort Dodge, but it’s a return trip for guitarist James “JY” Young.

Young played at the Laramar some years back when he was promoting a solo album.

“I have a very, very warm place in my heart for the city of Fort Dodge having played there in my solo career,” Young said.

And he has kind words for former Fort Dodge deejay Lindy Kaye.

“She played a prime role in my solo career,” Young said in a telephone interview. “She was the biggest supporter of my solo album in the early ’90s.”

Styx co-founder Young said he thinks Shellabration concert-goers at the Oleson Park Bandshell Saturday will see the best-ever incarnation of the band.

“It’s a heck of a lineup,” he said. “I love these guys, and they love performing.”

Still, Young said he didn’t want to take anything away from John Panozzo, a founding member of the band who passed away in 1996. Panozzo’s replacement, Todd Sucherman, has been named by Modern Drummer Magazine as the No. 1 rock drummer in the world – an assessment echoed by Young.

“He may be the best drummer on the planet,” Young said.

Thirty-plus-year veteran Styx guitarist Tommy Shaw, keyboardist Lawrence Gowan and bass guitarist Ricky Phillips round out the band. Young said Chuck Panozzo, another founding Styx member and the group’s original bass player, has been playing some dates with the group. Panozzo was diagnosed with AIDS in 2001 and tours when he can.

“I’ve worked all my life to put a band, this band, in this position,” Young said. “To me, the time we spend on stage is a profound joy. The music we perform comes from a higher place and is channeled through us. We are the humble stewards of this incredible power.”

Music, he said, can do many things, including – in the best instances – heal.

Beginning with the crash, followed by Sept. 11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the housing and financial crises brought an abundance of bad news for Americans, and music can provide at least a temporary escape, Young said.

“People need a place where they can go to forget their troubles. We put smiles on people’s faces. Music is such a universal language.”

It’s easy to get swept away by the positive emotions that music elicits – “especially when it’s at 101 decibels, you’re immersed in it, and you’re in a crowd of people with the same energy,” he said.

Concert-goers at Shellabration will hear some of the “greatest rock songs we did,” Young said. “There’s a ton of great songs and a reintroduction of some songs we haven’t done in the state of Iowa since the 1970s.”

The concert will include songs that “everybody knows and loves,” he said.

Young credits the Internet with introducing the band to younger generation of concert-goers.

“We’re seeing more people under 25, and they’re singing all the lyrics,” he said.

In addition to the Web, Styx is also visible on cable television, where one of the “two best DVDs we’ve ever done,” premiered earlier this year.

Recorded on Nov. 9, 2010, in Memphis, the concert featured the group’s two biggest-selling albums of all time – The Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight, performed live and in their entirety. It was broadcast on the Palladia HD channel and on VH1Classic.