A soulful solstice

Altitude Entertainment brings rock and blues bands to winter show

The day of the year with the least amount of light is Dec. 21. For centuries, cultures have commemorated this day, the winter solstice, with celebrations that mark the astronomical, religious and cultural significance of the day. In our area, Altitude Entertainment is marking it with the show “Winter Soulstice with The Commonheart and Miss Melanie & The Valley Rats.” The rocking, soulful, bluesy bands are sure to light up the year’s darkest day — and the Mishler Theatre.

“It’s going to be a nice, cool rock concert. It’s a cool thing to do before the holidays. Go to the Mishler to see it decorated and have a nice night out before the hectic week of Christmas and the New Year. The Spiritz lounge will also be open for the show, so it will be a nice adult night out,” said Will Jones, manager for Altitude Entertain-ment.

The Commonheart is not new to playing in our area. The Pittsburgh band performed for Altoona’s recent First Frontier Festival in July to rave audience reviews.

“They were phenomenal and blew everyone away; they stole the festival. The band is cool and hip. They’re a 10-member group and are really dynamic. I immediately thought that we have to bring these guys back,” Jones said.

Clinton Clegg, lead singer of The Commonheart, likewise enjoyed playing at the festival.

“That was a great venue, the crowd was extremely kind and receptive. We all really enjoyed that performance. I personally enjoyed it so much due to having an abundance of family in the audience as I have quite a few relatives in the Altoona area,” he said.

Clegg is looking forward to returning to Altoona and playing at the Mishler for the upcoming Winter Soulstice show.

“I cannot wait to see this theater for the first time, I have seen pictures but I have not actually been inside yet. I have heard it’s gorgeous. Playing theaters like this are such a treat. We are all really looking forward to the experience,” he said.

Clegg describes The Commonheart’s music as soulful, rock’n’roll revival that is heavily influenced by blues, gospel music and traditional soul music.

Miss Melanie & The Valley Rats are likewise known for their blues and soul music. The popular State College band is also headlining the Winter Soulstice show and have played in Altoona in the past. Mark Ross, guitarist for the band, enjoys the area and especially performing at the Mishler.

“I like playing the Mishler; I really enjoy it. We all enjoy playing there and playing in Altoona no matter what the venue is,” Ross said.

Miss Melanie & The Valley Rats, who have a fifth album coming out soon, will play a mix of their own songs and select covers. Ross thinks that no matter what song is played, the audience will be impressed by lead singer Miss Melanie’s voice.

“She is a seriously strong vocalist. She’s as good as anybody out there — it’s pretty frightening,” he said.

Jones agrees that her voice is impressive. “Miss Melanie has really got a bluesy voice, kind of like Annie Lennox,” he said.

Both bands are going to thrill the audience with their forceful songs. “It’s going to be a dynamic concert; these bands are pros. It will be feel good,” Jones said.

Clegg acknowledged that he wants the audience to have a good time; to leave the darkness of the long day behind and just enjoy the show.

He said, “We make an effort in our live shows to deliver a positive message to our audience as we are a very positive-centric group, emphatically preaching to our audience about love and understanding, being positive and loving your neighbor. We believe it is very important to leave our audiences feeling inspired in a spiritual way through raw emotion and energy.”