Busy summer planned at Amp

WARREN – They’ll be havin’ a party three nights a week at the Warren Community Amphitheatre this summer.

River Rock at the Amp announced its summer concert season, which will feature national act Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes along with 10 concerts topped by tribute acts, at a news conference Monday at the amphitheater.

The New Jersey-based Jukes are best known for such songs as ”Talk to Me,” ”I Don’t Want to Go Home,” ”Trapped Again,” ”Hearts of Stone” and ”Havin’ a Party,” and the Aug. 24 show will feature VIP reserved seating in addition to the regular general admission.

The Fine Arts Council of Trumbull County will feature free concerts there on Thursday nights, and FACT is bringing back free movies on Fridays at the outdoor venue.

”We want to bring people downtown,” said Ken Haidaris, who co-promotes the River Rock series with Marty Cohen with their company, Sunrise Entertainment. ”That’s our goal, that’s the mayor’s goal.”

Haidaris and Cohen are trying a few new things this year.

Three of the headliners will be playing the venue for the first time. One of them, the Moody Blues tribute band Time Traveller, will be accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra for its Warren date.

”You have to change it up,” Cohen said. ”Time Traveller plays a different kind of classic rock. It’s very different for us, and we hope our fans appreciate it.”

And while River Rock has featured KISS tribute bands in the past, this is the first time Mr. Speed has been featured in the series.

”Gene Simmons (of KISS) christened them as the number-one KISS tribute in the world,” Haidaris said. ”That’s a pretty good reference.”

A KISS look-a-like contest is planned for the Aug. 17 show, and the winner of a Harley-Davidson raffle will be announced that night.

The promoters also are planning the first Miss River Rock Queen contest as part of the June 29 concert featuring the tribute band Almost Queen. Cohen said one of the women who works at the amp as a beer vendor suggested the contest, which he promised would be family-friendly. And the the judges for the River Rock Queen will be the band Almost Queen.

One thing that won’t be part of the River Rock series this year is a concert timed around the Fourth of July. Fins to the Left, the Jimmy Buffett tribute band that traditionally played the date, disbanded, Haidaris said, and he wasn’t ready to take a chance on a less-proven Buffett band. Also, the holiday falls on a Thursday, and with many people going out of town that weekend, the promoters decided to skip that weekend this year.

The promoters thanked Warren Mayor Doug Franklin, who in turn thanked the city workers who maintain the amphitheater, which opened in 2003.

”Without the city, this does not happen,” Haidaris said.

In a telephone interview after the news conference, William Mullane of the Fine Arts Council said its Thursday concert series was successful last season, and both the council and Sunrise Entertainment didn’t want to leave a gap in the schedule on Fridays. A series of country-themed tribute concerts folded halfway through its inaugural season last summer.

”Kenny was interested in doing it (a film series) with us,” Mullane said. ”We have the projector; we might as well use it. We’ve gotten a lot of requests for it.”

The Fine Arts Council used to show movies in the amphitheatre, and eight dates are planned for 2013. Mullane said the movies will be announced in the next few weeks.