Photo: Courtesy of Styx
Inside Styx Fix: How The Rock Renegades Kept Fans Dancing & Raised Money For MusiCares
Back in March, the coronavirus pandemic and the quarantine that followed left music lovers everywhere stuck at home with nowhere to go to show their support or get their fill of their favorite artists live in concert. Fortunately, iconic rockers Styx were one of the first to offer fans a fast remedy. Enter Styx Fix, a series of high-quality audio recordings from the band's concert vault.
Better still, Styx saw the opportunity to not only give back to their fans with the free livestreams of archived concerts, but also to give back to the music community by raising money for great causes like the TJ Martel Foundation and the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.
A driving force behind the concept and the idea to include MusiCares is longtime Styx manager Charlie Brusco. We caught up with Brusco over the phone from his home in Cumming, Ga., to hear more about how Styx Fix got started after the band's live shows were stopped.
"We had to come up with something that tied the band back together with the fans that aren't able to see the shows. and we had a lot of these Styx recorded live shows - we record the audio every night," Brusco said. "The best that we could do to give the fans a live-feeling experience, because that's what Styx is, a great live band."
The first edition of Styx Fix aired on the last Saturday in March, was hosted by Styx' Tommy Shaw and featured the entire concert audio from the band's Aug. 24, 2017 show at Quebec's Amphitheatre Cogeco & Centre-Ville. In the following months, four subsequent Styx Fixes treated fans to never-before-heard live concert streams and extras from the band and raised considerable awareness and funds for a variety of charities, including MusiCares. And while the exclusive concert streams only stay live for two weeks, the series will see a relaunch this Saturday, June 27 on the band's YouTube page.
But raising money for charity is nothing new for Styx. The band has their own charity called Rock To The Rescue which generously fundraises donates
"When we are on the road on a regular basis, we raise anywhere from a hundred to $250,000 a year from auctioning off signed guitars at our shows and all that stuff," said Brusco. "With a portion of that, we always make donations to different organizations all over the United States. But MusiCares and T.J. Martell are the two biggest that we provide endorsements and money to every year."
And Brusco's connection to MusiCares goes back even further, and the Styx Fix is just one way he and the artists he manages have supported his fellow members of the music community. In fact, another idea for a unique fundraiser came together last month as Shaw joined Ed Roland of Collective Soul for once-in-a-lifetime livestream conversation, also to benefit MusiCares. Legacy Lounge: A Conversation with Ed Roland and Tommy Shaw featured the two rock icons discussing their similar Southern backgrounds and swapping career stories and discussing the influences that shaped them as musicians.
"It came out of a conversation with Michele [Caplinger, the executive of the Recording Academy Atlanta Chapter]." he said. "I said that we were going to start doing these Zoom calls with Tommy. We had done one with Tommy and Kevin Cronin with REO Speedwagon, and then we were talking about doing some more of them and Michele said, 'Hey, didn't Ed always want to do something with Tommy?'"
The concept just kept growing from there. Ed and Tommy had played shows together and even played and sang on each other's recordings before, and whenever they collaborated, there seemed to be an easy connection, with both artists arriving at similar creative approaches to the material even though they were working together remotely.
"When we started talking about doing the Legacy Lounge over Zoom, that was really the first time that they had [spent time together] that wasn't backstage at a show or anything like that. We put them on the call together and we just let them go on their own and they had a great time. They talked about all kinds of different stuff and Ed had a list. Ed acted like he was Dan Rather and he was interviewing him," he recalled.
But it's not just Styx and Collective Soul who have opened their hearts, Brusco managers an active roster of rockers and do-gooders. His other artists include Southern rock staples the Outlaws and a new band from Atlanta called Like Machines, and they have also been supporters of the spirit of giving back, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.
"None of my artists are into, 'Okay, hey, let's livestream and charge people and split the money up.' It's not about that right now. This is really about trying to help, especially our industry, which is where the MusiCares donations go," Brusco said. "It is a really good match, and we're raising money for people that are musicians and, whatever their situation is, it doesn't matter. If they need help, it's great that MusiCares establishes that somebody's got to help raise the money that they need to get that help."
Perhaps the best part is that some of the music professionals who work with Brusco and his bands are also the same ones who MusiCares is helping now. A member of the Styx road crew was recently telling Brusco and his team about applying for a grant through MusiCares, how simple the application process was and how appreciative he was to receive a check while he's stuck unable to work.
"Quite frankly, the 'goes around, comes around' thing is real. This is a guy who sometimes helps getting the guitars signed by the band, so that money goes to whatever charity we're working with. All of a sudden, he never thought he would be in a position where he was having to get somebody to help him out with money," Brusco said of the crew member who received a MusiCares grant. "He's a great touring guy, but he's unemployed. He can't do anything right now. He's not the kind of guy that likes to take on unemployment or wants to do it. He wants to work, but he can't work."
This kind of connection, generosity and support is what keeps MusiCares in a position to help music people in need, especially now with the devastating toll coronavirus has taken on the live music industry. But this is also when the biggest hearts in the music community shine.
"The live music business is probably going to be the last one to reopen at full strength, again out of this pandemic," Brusco said. " It's always a good thing to give back when you're in a position to help. And right now, I think everybody's trying to do everything they can, because we can feel it more than anybody else how this is affecting musicians and crew people."
Catch the next Styx Fix this Saturday, June 27, on the band's YouTube page.
Learn more about how you can donate to or apply for assistance via the Recording Academy's and MusiCares' COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Learn more about the financial, medical and personal emergencies services and resources offered by the Recording Academy and MusiCares.