In western Pennsylvania and among country fans, the name Chris Higbee is well known, both as a solo artist and for his tenure with the PovertyNeck Hillbillies.
In Trumbull County, though, he's known by a different name the ''Fiddler on the Roof.''
Higbee made a big impression on the crowd last year for his first appearance as part of the River Rock at the Amp concert series. He climbed on top of the roof at the at the Warren Community Amphitheatre and serenaded the crowd with his fiddle playing.
Chris Higbee interacts with the crowd at the Warren Community Amphitheatre.
''In my whole career, I've climbed things,'' Higbee said. ''If I'm playing a bar, I climb on the bar, the tables. It's a fun thing to do ... When I'm playing somewhere, the first thing I do is, 'What can I climb?'''
River Rock co-promoter Marty Cohen said, ''Going on the roof was his novel idea. At first we were concerned about it for obvious reasons. Last season when he did it, it was such a success. The buzz about the his rooftop performance spread pretty quickly.''
The feedback was so strong that River Rock booked Higbee for two performances this season. He opened for the Eagles tribute band 7 Bridges on Memorial Day weekend, when he repeated the rooftop stunt, and he comes back this Saturday as a headliner.
When You Go
WHAT: River Rock at the Amp - Chris Higbee, Sarah Turner and Mark Leach
WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday with gates open at 5 p.m.
WHERE: Warren Community Amphitheatre, 303 Mahoning Ave. N.W., Warren
HOW MUCH: $5 adults, with children ages 12 and younger admitted free.
''I was amazed that the outcry was that big that they brought me back twice,'' Higbee said.
Higbee isn't promising a third trip on the roof, but he isn't ruling it out either. And he's not a one-trick pony either.
''We're coming up with a couple things,'' Higbee said. ''I have a couple tricks up my sleeve.''
One of those is a special edition of his new EP, ''The High Five Fun Pack,'' just for Warren. The packaging will feature an illustration by Niles artist Rick Muccio, whose editorial cartoons appear in the Tribune Chronicle, showing Higbee on the roof of the amp.
''The only way to get it is to come to that show that day,'' Higbee said. ''They're summery songs with a party atmosphere, exciting tunes and country friendly. I think people will really like it.''
T-shirts featuring the illustration also are available at Cohen's Mickey's Army-Navy Store.
While Higbee's death-defying antics have attracted some attention, Cohen doesn't believe that's the only reason local audiences like him.
''I don't think his roof performance overshadowed his stage performance,'' Cohen said. ''What amazes me is what an amazing performer he is. He singles out people, gets in their face. He's pretty remarkable with the the crowd. And there's more to his performance than just country. He covers all spectrums of music, even classical. He puts some classical violin in his performance.''
Higbee said he goes on stage with one goal: ''I do everything in my power to put on the best show that I know how. I know what it takes to entertain people, and I try to exploit that ... One of the things we really work on is the live show. When people spend their hard-earned money to come see us, we want them to say, 'Wow.'''
The singer is at work on a full-length album, but he wanted to get something out to capitalize on his busy summer touring schedule and his growing popularity in Ohio. He attributed that growth to the success of his Warren dates, which helped him book shows at the Great Geauga County Fair and other Ohio venues.
Higbee has been a popular draw in his native Pennsylvania for years. PovertyNeck Hillbillies, which Higbee founded in 2000, had a large regional following and received national video exposure for its clip ''Mr. Right Now,'' which featured Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Performing under his own name instead of as one of the Hillbillies required him to re-establish himself with his old audience and build on that fan base. While it meant a return to smaller gigs, at least for awhile, Higbee said it was worth it for the freedom to make his own choices with his music and his stage show.
''I learned from a lot of my mistakes (with PovertyNeck Hillbillies),'' he said. ''I'm not taking for granted the things I took for granted back then.''
These days Higbee said audiences can see the shine on his face from how happy he is to to be doing what he loves with those he loves. His wife, a 15-year Army veteran who spent 22 months deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 2-year-old son travel with him and join him on stage.
''She has a career full of awards and medals and all that is very impressive, but she's an even better wife and better mother and a phenomenal singer,'' Higbee said.
One of the songs they perform together is about their family, called ''One and One Makes Three.'' And Higbee's son enjoys the spotlight as much as his father does.
''He would be on stage with me the entire time if I'd let him. He knows all the words to my songs. He knows 'One and One Makes Three' is about him and he sings, 'One and One makes me.'''