Old & New

Marty Cohen and Ken Haidaris are downtown Warren businessmen in addition to being the promoters of the River Rock at the Amp concert series.

In their fourth year bringing concerts to the Warren Community Amphitheatre, they may be adding tightrope walker to their list of jobs.

Both talked about how putting together the concert series made up predominantly of tribute acts is a balancing act, sticking with the bands that have proven successful in the past while also trying to satisfy the desire for something new and different.

”The danger is getting too far off that base of classic rock,” Cohen said. ”That’s when you run into trouble … We know what we aren’t more than what we are.”

For those who want old favorites, River Rock at the Amp opens Saturday with the Led Zeppelin tribute act ZOSO, which has made annual appearances at the venue dating back to when it was the Summit Rock Showcase (Haidaris and Cohen formed Sunrise Entertainment and started River Rock at the Amp to continue the tradition after the death of original promoter Walt English).

Almost Queen (June 29), Wish You Were Here (July 27) and 7 Bridges (June 15) also will be back, although Eagles’ tribute act 7 Bridges only will play one show this summer, instead of its three appearances in 2012.

But 2013 will see a different KISS tribute band on the schedule with Mr. Speed making its first appearance.

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

And the lineup will feature two first-time attractions – a Guns ‘n’ Roses tribute act on June 22 and the Moody Blues tribute Time Traveller on July 20. Time Traveller will be backed by a 45 to 50-piece orchestra to capture the lush arrangements of the progressive rock band known for such songs as ”Nights in White Satin,” ”Tuesday Afternoon,” ”I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band)” and ”Your Wildest Dreams.”

Jeff Costick, keyboard player for Time Traveller, said, ”We don’t put wigs on or anything else. We recreate their sound … We try to nail it down to every note.”

Cohen, who plays drums in the Beatles’ tribute band Abbey Road, said he played on the same bill as Time Traveller years ago at the Mahoning Valley Rib Burn-Off and he was very impressed by it sound.

”The Moody Blues are my second favorite band,” Cohen said.

Haidaris is getting one of his favorite bands too, only his isn’t a tribute act. Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes will be the final show of the season on Aug. 24.

”I love Southside,” Haidaris said. ”I saw him earlier this year at House of Blues and he’s still great.”

Haidaris isn’t alone in feeling that way. The promoters now are able to sell tickets through their website – www.riverrockattheamp.com and Haidaris said they have been getting tickets orders from several states in the U.S. and Canada for the late summer show.

The promoters also are bringing back some past acts that weren’t on last year’s schedule, such as the John Fogerty/Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute Blue Moon Swamp (June 1) and the Aerosmith tribute Draw the Line (July 13). And several of the opening acts will be playing the venue for the first time.

One new thing that won’t be happening this year is a Miss River Rock Queen Contest that was planned for June 29, when Almost Queen performs (the band members were going to be the judges of the contest). Haidaris and Cohen said they were thinking of something classy, like Miss America. Others feared something raunchy, like a bikini contest. They got enough negative feedback that they decided to drop the idea.