The Commonheart, a powerhouse of soul and funk, take the stage in Steamboat
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – With a name like The Commonheart, this nine-piece band is anything but ordinary.
Fusing gritty vocals with extended rock riffs and a reverberating horns section, The Pittsburg band offers a powerhouse of sound.
“We’re a revival of soul, rock, R&B and love,” said front man Clinton Clegg. “We bring passion and energy – I promise that.”
The Commonheart will be making its first appearance in Steamboat at the Rock the Boat Free Concert Series at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on the Steamboat Stage in Gondola Square at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.
The group, which formed in 2014, has a reputation for headlining sold-out shows from the East Coast to West and bringing a unique blend of rock, soul, blues and gospel repertoire with them. The Commonheart released its debut album “Grown” in 2016.
With a sound Clegg describes as “soul rock,” band members include: Clegg; Michael Minda, guitarist who started the group with Clegg; Abby Gross on sax; Nat Insko on trumpet; Anton DeFade on bass, Lucas Bowman on keys; and back-up singers Mariko Reid and Anne Celedonia.
Explore Steamboat caught up with Clegg and asked him what the Steamboat audience could expect from one of the group’s performances and other questions.
Explore Steamboat: Who or what inspired you to pursue music? Did you always know you wanted to be in a band like this?
Clinton Clegg: I listened to a ton of music as a kid. But when I heard Jimi Hendrix and BB King for the first time, I knew they were a different, special thing. It stuck with me and inspired me to perform. I wouldn’t say I always knew I wanted to be in a band like this but, I will say that in the early days of this project I knew it was the right sound for what my style was and what I was capable of.
ES: At what point did you guys realize you wanted to start The Commonheart? What was that turning point?
CC: The drummer and myself were in another band that was splitting up. We started The Commonheart with the intentions of a fresh start and focusing on a sound that really played to our strengths. The response the band was receiving from audiences was the first clue that this could be a sustainable project. But the big turning point was opening for Gary Clarke Jr. here in Pittsburgh. That show introduced us to our hometown in a huge way, and it kept growing from that day on.
ES: Overall, how is the Pittsburgh music scene? How do you guys break through the noise, so to speak, and make yourselves stand apart in that scene as well as nationally?
CC: The music scene here is really on the rise. There’s a ton of talent, and you can see a great band almost every night of the week. Our goals from the early days ’til now are to treat every show — big or small — like a major event, and put on our very best performance possible. With that attitude we’ve been fortunate enough to travel more and take that show further and further. Not sure if we’re breaking through the noise but it’s a start.
ES: How did you guys land on The Commonheart as the band name?
CC: We booked our first show ever before we even had a band name believe it or not, and the promoter kept bugging us saying, “Hey man, we need a name.” Out of about five names, Commonheart was the one we hated the least. But it stuck, and now we all love it.
ES: What was the initial vision for The Commonheart? Has that changed very much when looking at where you guys are today?
CC: The vision was really to create something cohesive that sounded like music we all loved and grew up listening to. I still believe that’s the vision today but we’ve learned our identity a little better and the song writing is a lot more deliberate.
ES: What is it about The Commonheart sound that’s unique?
CC: The majority of the group all comes from classic jazz training, and the influences float all over from The Band to Weather Report to James Brown. It’s quite a collection of folks we got.
ES: What’s next on The Commonheart horizon? New albums?
CC: An album in the near future, for sure. No release date yet, but the record is very close. And we are going to keep on the road pretty heavily through summer and fall.
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