Go down to the river with The Clarks
Some familiar faces will rock on for a different celebration in Kittanning July 7.
The iconic Pittsburgh band, The Clarks, usually associated with the Arts on the Allegheny series in the Armstrong County seat, headline Rockin' for Lockin' still at Riverfront Park on the Allegheny River.
The event, which includes a pre-party with DJ July 6, is sponsored by the nonprofit Allegheny River Development Corporation, whose mission is to keep the locks and dams on the Allegheny River operational for recreation and to promote commercial navigation.
"This is an exciting year for us," says The Clarks' bassist Greg Joseph. "We have just released our new album, 'Madly in Love at the End of the World.' It is truly refreshing to have new songs to share."
The band's new energy comes from the new material and having fun with new set lists, he adds.
"We are trying to incorporate a good bit of the new album in our live shows. Playing Kittanning is always lot of fun. We always seem to have a nice crowd," he says. "The boats on the river are an added bonus. It is always a pleasure rocking the Allegheny."
"Yes, we love the river vibe," adds lead vocalist Scott Blasey. "The boats on the water and the general atmosphere is really special in Kittanning."
The band has been together for 32 years.
"This year is the anniversary of the release of our first album. We're re-energized by the fact that we have a new album out and we're playing new songs in concert," he explains.
They plan "lots of new songs" for Kittanning, he adds, "plus The Clarks' classics that our fans know and love."
The new record has indeed breathed new life into the band, adds drummer Dave Minarik, a former Natrona Heights resident who now lives in Mercer.
"It is the first studio album we have done in years that went back to the old way of recording where all or most of the members of the band were in the room at the same time," he explains. There was also a conscious effort to write songs that included parts for their Hammond B3-organ player Skip Sanders and pedal steel player Gary Jacob, he says.
"My son, Noah (20), also plays guitar on every track of this record. His parts are very well thought out and add a nice touch to the overall sound. He and Rob (James) work very well together. Noah will be in Kittanning. He plays all shows with us these days."
Blasey adds: "We want to thanks our fans for all these years of support. We're humbled and grateful."
Rex Rutkoski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.