STYX Frontman Tommy Shaw - The Making Of The Great Divide: Part 3

April 18, 2011, 6 years ago

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TOMMY SHAW, guitarist of legendary rock band STYX, released his debut Bluegrass album, The Great Divide, on March 22nd through Pazzo Music/Fontana Distribution. Shaw offers a look behind the making of the album, Part 3 is available below:


"I knew that I wanted to have a vinyl version available as well and that became part of the to do list as we finished the actual music production and shifted into the business side of things. As you may have seen on I recently mastered that album for vinyl.

Here's the problem. I have not owned a turntable since I left my 125 acre Michigan farm and moved to an apartment on New York's Upper West Side in 1985 so I couldn't even listen to the reference disc until I remedied that. It had been on my mind for a while and was something I wanted but I didn't want to go half-hearted into it because let's face it, after 25 years, I didn't know squat about that technology anymore. Fortunately over that time span I have become friends with people who do know squat and then some about it. In particular, Mike Mettler who is, read this and it will tell you a bit about Mike:

Mike and I have been friends since he asked me to do an interview for Car And Driver Stereo almost 10 years ago. One thing I also don't know much about is hot rods, but I did have a very cool 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang at the time so despite my reluctance to appear in a Car and Driver magazine, Mike assured me we'd find a comfort zone for chatting and that's what happened. Ever since we've become better and better friends and I always look forward to seeing him and his wonderful wife Krista who has also become a good friend. We usually end up chatting so long after the show that my tour manager will have to put his foot down about getting going. And it's been Mike who's been nudging me as much as Jeanne (who began even earlier) to get back into vinyl and offered to point me in the right direction gear-wise. Add Chris Dragon, my friend at Harman International, to the mix and my lack of knowledge has been raised considerably!

After almost six months of deliberating and finally placing orders, I recently connected all the wires and began spinning vinyl at home again. What a treat! Not just the sweet listening experience, but the tactile feeling of the album cover in hand, the artwork, the interactive part of having to place the needle on the disc, then retract it to flip the album over then tenderly putting the disc away.

I'm finding that as much as I enjoy classic albums, I am also enjoying new music like JAKOB DYLAN's most recent Women And Country, EMMYLOU HARRIS' 2008 All I Intended To Be, and MUMFOR AND SONS' Sigh No More. What is most notable is my desire for MORE VINYL!!!

I gave up drugs and alcohol 21 years ago with no regrets, but on thing I still appreciate is a good ritual, and the business of acquiring and queuing up vinyl is right up that alley. And since I left my entire album collection behind in 1985 (yes do the math, there probably is a correlation) I'm pretty much starting over, except for a few that I pinched from my mother's bin last time I was there.

But having said it, that' all the looking back I'll do because there's way too much vinyl to look forward to!"

Stay tuned for Part 4.

The Great Divide features the following 11 songs:

'The Next Right Thing'

'Back In Your Kitchen'


'The Great Divide'

'Shadows In The Moonlight'

'Get On The One'

'Umpteen Miles'


'Afraid To Love'

'Give `Em Hell Harry'

'I'll Be Comin' Home'

The Great Divide features an impressive roster of guest musicians, including: Alison Krauss, Dwight Yoakam, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, Rob Ickes, Stuart Duncan, Byron House, Gary Burr and many more.

With this album, Shaw, a Montgomery, Alabama native, establishes himself as an authentic addition to the Bluegrass community. Born with a unique gift for music, a passion quickly recognized by his parents, he picked up his first guitar at the age of ten. From what his brothers remember, after Tommy's introduction to the guitar; "We never saw him again...", as he would stay in his room for hours practicing day and night. His tenacity and intrinsic passion for Bluegrass at an early age implies that this new release isn't a casual endeavor, but a return to the music on which he was raised. Shaw wrote or co-wrote every song on the album in addition to playing acoustic guitar, dobro/resonator and mandolin.

A perennial part of the rock scene since the mid-70s as a member of Styx, DAMN YANKEES and SHAW/BLADES, Bluegrass may at first seem like a stretch for Shaw, but his transition to Bluegrass is seamless. Having been raised on the genre, Shaw has always been deeply enamored with Bluegrass' ability to connect to the listener through storytelling. "These are story songs," says Shaw, an Alabama Music Hall of Fame Inductee. "I think songs that take you on a little journey are the best ones."

This is the story of a Southern boy who made it "big," but always held tight to his roots. "The Great Divide is a story of love and life; of happiness and hope; of loss and discovery," says Shaw. "It's the story of a journey that spans generations and is ultimately about trying to find your way home. And I'm as proud of this story as any I've ever told."

Coinciding with the March 22nd release of the album, Shaw made his Grand Ole Opry debut in Nashville, TN on March 26th to promote the record. Behind-the-scenes footage from the day and a performance of the song 'I'll Be Coming Home' is available below:

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