Rock trio that started in Youngstown in the ’70s will play at Powers Glass Harp comes home
By John Benson
A better part of a decade has passed since Glass Harp last performed in Youngstown.
You’ll have to forgive the power rock trio — Phil Keaggy (vocals, guitar), Daniel Pecchio (bass) and John Sferra (drums) — for selecting the occasional Cleveland or Akron gig over its hometown, where the band formed more than 45 years ago. But that all changes when the outfit plays Powers Auditorium on Friday.
“It’s been a while, and I know it’s been a long time since we’ve been at Powers,” said Pecchio, a 1965 Chaney High School graduate who currently calls Chagrin Falls home. “Phil is a full-time musician who plays out all over the country. He has a really busy schedule.
“Also, I used to sort of handle all of the production as far as booking and taking care of all of that. It just got to be way too much. It’s sort of like a fake band. We have all of the working parts of a real band but none of the managerial sense or infrastructure that would normally take care of all of that. That was always on me. By the time I would go play, I would be beat.”
At its start, Glass Harp enjoyed a four-year rocket ride performing its jam-band style of rock for varied audiences. The threesome, which released three studio albums (1970’s “Glass Harp,” 1971’s “It Makes Me Glad” and 1972’s “Synergy”), was a popular opener at the time for the likes of Alice Cooper, Chicago, Yes, Traffic, The Kinks and Grand Funk Railroad.
While the outfit broke up in 1974, it reunited over the years for various gigs and recordings. That includes a memorable 2000 appearance alongside the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra at Powers Auditorium. The night was captured for the live album release “Strings Attached.”
Now Glass Harp is once again returning to that show in the form of a DVD release. However, that journey wasn’t without some mystery.
“We had a crew personally come out and capture the concert,” said Pecchio, who also later played in the Michael Stanley Band. “They were from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. They did all of the video archiving. I actually thought we lost the film. I called the company about doing this and they looked around and said they didn’t have the original. I thought they had taped over it or something crazy.
“Then later I was looking through a closet in my home and I found the original tapes. While 15 years ago the technology didn’t have high definition like we do now, paired with the soundtrack of ‘Strings Attached,’ it’s a pretty compelling and neat show.”
The orchestral concert also carried on the tradition of Glass Harp performing some of Keaggy’s solo material. The same will happen at the upcoming Powers Auditorium show. Pecchio said the plan is to play tunes from the guitarist’s new album “All at Once,” including the ballad title track.
“We’ll do about six songs,” Pecchio said. “That particular album has a real heavy blues and gospel influence, so it just lends itself to what we do in Glass Harp.”
The question for Glass Harp is: How long can its member – Pecchio is 69 – continue to do what they do?
“Whoever thought we’d be going this far?” Pecchio said. “I think in terms of performing, our singing is better now than when we were young. Our voices have matured. You know, it’s until you’re physically unable, I guess.
“Look at The Stones. So as long as we’re upright, I guess we’ll keep playing.”