Rock on the River starts Thursday

By Correne Martin

The inaugural year of Rock on the River promises to bring an eclectic mix of classic rock, alternative, and heavy metal together on one stage in Prairie du Chien this weekend, July 11-13. Fans will have no shortage of a good time rockin’ out to the aggressive tunes of today’s hardest rock bands while also singing along with some old favorites.

The weekend kicks off Thursday evening with Loverboy at 5:30 p.m., followed by Creedence Clearwater Revisited (CCR) at 7:30 p.m., and Joan Jett and Blackhearts at 9:30 p.m. Generations of music lovers will unite in singing the familiar lyrics from the classic Eighties songs by these artists.

On Friday, Wisconsin’s reggae, rock and ska band, TUGG, will start the music at 2:30 p.m. The hard rock bands 10 Years and Flyleaf will take the stage at 4:30 p.m. and 6:30, respectively. At 8:30 p.m., the punk rock band Bad Religion will go on, and at 10:30 p.m., Sublime with Rome will finish off the night.

On Saturday, mostly metal bands will tear up the stage, though the lead vocalist of the Eighties “hair band” Poison will certainly hold his own too. At 2:30 p.m., Trapt will start the rage, followed by Drowning Pool at 4:30 p.m. and Sick Puppies at 6:30 p.m. Former glam rocker and now solo artist/reality TV star Bret Michaels will belt out his hits as well as some new tunes, and metal band Buckcherry will tear the house down at 10:30 p.m.

Prior to the festival, original CCR member and Rock Hall of Fame bassist Stu Cook as well as Drowning Pool bassist Stevie Benton took some time out for phone interviews in preview of their shows.

Creedence Clearwater Revisited

Stu Cook and Doug “Cosmo” Clifford may not have intended it, but their band Creedence Clearwater Revisited has taken on a life of its own. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame rhythm section (bass and drums respectively) from the legendary group Creedence Clearwater Revival launched the Revisited project in 1995 to once again perform live Creedence Clearwater Revival hitsof a generation. Though the pair initially only planned to play private parties, Creedence Clearwater Revisited now performs up to 100 shows a year and released the live album “Recollection” in 1998.

“We’ve been fortunate to rock around the world a couple of times,” Cook said. “We really have three generations of fans who get to enjoy our rock show. If you love Creedence, you’re gonna love this band.”
According to Cook, Creedence Clearwater Revisited is built around himself and Cosmo as original band members. Adding to their renowned talent, Kurt Griffey is an outrageous guitar player; Steve “The Captain” Gunner is the “master of most” on guitar, harmonica, keyboards, and backing vocals; and John “Bulldog” Tristao (formerly of the band People) is Revisited’s powerful voice.

“We’re normal cats with a style I like to call ‘rock ‘n roll church,’” Cook said. “We focus on the music and the attitudes of each individual song. Our shows are a good time for the crowd and for the band.”

Drowning Pool

At this point, absolutely nothing can stop Drowning Pool. Having recently released their fifth album, the band’s fist-pumping hard rock remains intact even as they welcome new singer Jasen Moreno (formerly of the band Suicide Hook). Upon the end of 2011, the three original members—C.J. Pierce (guitar), Stevie Benton (bass), and Mike Luce (drums)—decided to release their third singer, Ryan McCombs. Instead of folding up and simply going away as many artists would, they dusted themselves off and began searching for his replacement immediately. They had already survived the tragic passing of founding vocalist Dave Williams in 2002 and parting ways with his successor in 2005. The music, and Dave’s memory, beckoned them to forge ahead.

“You’re going to have a lot of ups and downs. That’s how life is. There are no more surprises because we’ve survived all of these disasters already,” Benton said. “We’re more of a unit than ever before. We’ve become adept at rolling with the punches, and I’m glad we’re still together. We’re keeping Dave’s memory alive.”

So it seems, their latest album, “Resilience” is pretty fitting.

“Everything has a little anger and pessimism. It’s not like we’re unhappy guys, because we’re not. We’re just lucky to be able to have music as our release,” Benton explained.

With previous radio hits such as “Bodies” and “Step Up,” this album’s first single, “One Finger and a Fist,” offers what might be the band’s most aggressive track to date. Benton describes it as, “A song about feeling backed into a corner. It’s about that moment when you realize that you have no choice but to come out swinging.”

If raucous, rowdy, and rousing headbanging music is your deal, Drowning Pool is going to provide plenty of that kind of high energy at Rock on the River.

“We come at it hot and heavy and really try to entertain everyone,” Benton said. “People can come out and expect a good time.”

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