PLANT CITY – When Ricky Phillips was asked to join Styx more than 10 years ago, he asked how long the gig might last.
Phillips still recalls band member Tommy Shaw’s answer: “We plan to rock until we drop.”
Styx, a group with music that has endured for decades, is bringing such classics as “Lady” and “Come Sail Away” to the Florida Strawberry Festival. Show time is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Wish Farms Soundstage.
Band members have come and gone over the years, but Styx remains popular, playing more than 200 concerts a year.
“We see each other more than we see our own families, but we still like to hang out together, we still have lunch together even when we’re not on the road,” said Phillips, who plays bass guitar and does vocals.
Phillips said he and other band members love to perform live – he said he still gets a thrill of “hearing the girls scream” – as they play their music. He said studio work is a necessary part of a musician’s job but there’s nothing like interacting with a live audience.
“We like to play five nights a week once we’re out on the road,” he said.
He promises a “hit-laden show” with all the favorites that diehard fans expect. Phillips, although he’s been with the group the shortest period of time, said he thinks the band’s music lives on because of the “unique sound.”
“When you hear a song come on the radio, you know exactly that it’s by Styx. It’s such an identifiable sound,” he said.
The festival has long been a bastion of country music but has made a concerted effort recently to sign groups that appeal to other musical tastes. Festival general manager Paul Davis said several rockers have taken the stage in recent years “as we try to diversify to reach out to fans with different musical tastes.”
Tickets to the show are $25 and $30, depending on location. Tickets are available at www.flstrawberryfestival.com, the main ticket office at 2209 W. Oak Ave. or by phone at (813) 754-1996.
In addition to the reserved seats, the festival offers about 2,700 free seats for each headline show in the festival grandstand.