Just for Kyx: Houtzdale band works hard to have serious fun

For the CDTMay 24, 2013 

Houtzdale-area band Kyx, formed by Glenn Walstrom in 1978. The members are, clockwise from left, Walstrom, Christie Clancy, guitarist Michael Nevling and drummer Mike Hughes. This weekend’s performance will be an acoustic show.

PHOTO PROVIDED

For the members of KYX, taking music too seriously is a sure sign to call it quits. Luckily, each member of the rock quartet is all about having fun.

Sporting a catalog of cover songs one may not expect from a band that has rocked the Centre Region for 35 years, the Houtzdale outfit mixes an unusual variety of influences to craft a unique sound and style — a Southern rock-punk-blues hybrid that synergizes into a form of “fun rock.” Bassist-vocalist Glenn Walstrom has played this way since he formed the group in 1978.

“I’ve always loved music and always thought it’d be cool to play it for people to enjoy,” Walstrom said. “We are at the point now where we want to please the audience but also have fun and please ourselves too. We make sure to throw in a song that we all enjoy playing.”

In its first year, the band was called Fantasy. But Wolstrom combined two of his favorite bands — KISS and Styx — and the name stuck. Over three decades, the band has gone through several personnel and style changes and now is a regular at several bars between Houtzdale, Altoona and State College.

On May 25, the band will take its acoustic show — a version of the group they call KYX Lite — to the Autoport. Walstrom, along with singer Christie Clancy and guitarist Michael Nevling, will serenade the crowd with a set of danceable numbers from artists such as Michael Jackson, Johnny Cash, Pat Benatar and Janis Joplin.

The show is backed by multi-influenced music and powered by the raspy wail of Clancy, who joined the band five years ago. She echoed Walstrom’s sentiment about the rare variety her band brings to the stage and its commitment to fun.

“There is this vast knowledge and different loves of music,” Clancy said. “Each of us has something a little different, and that makes us whole. It’s interesting and it’s never boring.”

Building a set from decades of influence may sound daunting, but social media has become a tool in crafting set lists. The group often will check out their shows’ Facebook event pages to see the demographic who may attend that night. Will it be a 1960s blues night or more ’90s grunge? The unpredictability keeps the group going.

No matter the kind of night, people should “still be ready to have fun and do a little dancing” Clancy said.

“I enjoy playing with Christie,” Walstrom said. “Being a female singer, she brings a whole different style to the band and helps us be slightly different.”

Despite being “newbies” in a long-standing rock group, Clancy and Nevling fit right in with the band’s values of good times and great fun. They are not about to take what they do too seriously, and they hope that unhinged spirit spills over onto the dance floor.

“When it starts to feel like work, it’s time to retire,” Clancy said. “This is not an obligation. We love to play.”

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