Music » Livewire

Glass Harp

Sunday, March 23, at the Beachland.

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A number of places can boast of their special sounds or styles, but not many could match the volume of sheer rock-guitar talent emanating from Northeast Ohio in the '60s and early '70s. Glenn Schwartz was poised, in the minds of more than a few rock scribes of the day, to follow Hendrix and Clapton as the "next" guitar legend. His replacement in the James Gang, Joe Walsh, made national noise both with that band and as a solo act. Not to be outdone, Glass Harp's Phil Keaggy, the youngest of this trinity of Ohio guitar greats, was the one Jimi himself reputedly proclaimed the "best in the world."

A power trio in the mold of Cream, including drummer John Sferra and bassist Dan Pecchio (later with the Michael Stanley Band), Youngstown's Glass Harp made its first splashes as the road-bound James Gang's replacement at JB's in Kent and soon developed one of the largest followings in the region. Ignited by Keaggy's remarkable virtuosity, the band pushed the trio format beyond extended blues-rock riffing, incorporating harmonic invention that predates the present-day "jam band" aesthetic. They were strong with pop vocal harmonies as well. Three early '70s albums for the Decca label brought them national show-opener status, but Keaggy's religion drew him from the band and toward a prolific career as a contemporary Christian artist, amassing a catalog of more than 20 releases. This performance constitutes only their second Cleveland gig in the last 30 years, and should include material from their forthcoming release, Hourglass, as well as old favorites.

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