This weekend’s “Stage on Stage” concert is more than just another date on the calendar for the artists who will be gracing the main stage of the historic State Theatre. For performers and fans alike, it is a chance to experience homegrown music culled from both sides of the Delaware River.
Another “Stage on Stage” concert is set for Feb. 9 at the theater, with scheduled performances by progressive folk trio Honeysuckle, Americana-folk group Jackson Pines, and singer-songwriter Pentley Holmes.
“It’s awesome to be playing such a historic landmark,” said Summer Scouts guitarist-vocalist Ross Huber during a Jan. 27 phone interview. “There’s a lot of regality there.”
Huber said the band plans to touch on each of their releases during Summer Scouts’ “Stage on Stage” performance. “You’re gonna get a crash course in Summer Scouts on Saturday,” Huber teased.
During “Stage on Stage,” the theater’s main stage is transformed into a club-style atmosphere, with both the artists and fans sharing the space. The inaugural “Stage on Stage” concert was held in January 2018.
This year marks Summer Scouts’ fifth anniversary. The Allentown-based quintet is celebrating the milestone with new music and a new music video (for their forthcoming single “Flourish”). The video was filmed at the Roxy Theater in Northampton.
“There were so many growing pains over those five years and identity crisis going on,” Huber said. “We made things harder on ourselves than we should have in the beginning. But we found a sound we like and not complicate our lives more than they need to be.”
Since their formation in 2014, Summer Scouts have released the EPs The Distance and Deep Breath, and their 2016 full-length album Furthest Reach. Additionally, the group has opened for national recording artists The Band Perry and Echosmith. Earlier this month, the band’s song “Vessel” was played during the Philadelphia Eagles televised wild card game against the Chicago Bears.
“The function of this band band is to get signed and tour and make it a lifestyle,” Huber said. “That is our goal for the next few years and keep pushing the music and try and get it heard across the country and across the world.”
The band is targeting a late winter or early spring release for the new album.
“From lyrical and overall vibe standpoint, (the new album) is full of heart and packed with energy,” said singer Katherine De Menno. “We’re being open to delving into a stronger sound, music we all really enjoy performing and playing.”
Headliners and returning regional favorites The Happy Fits — who opened the second stage concert in April 2018 — have spent the past nine months touring and promoting their first full-length album, Concentrate. The album dropped in June 2018 and includes the singles “Grow Back” and “Hungry People.”
“We’ve had a handful of big shows like that, but (‘Stage on Stage’) was one of the most memorable ones,” guitarist Ross Monteith recalled during a Jan. 28 phone interview. “The crowd energy last time was good to go from the beginning. People were ready for the music
Singer-cellist Calvin Langman said the group (rounded out by drummer Luke Davis) is already working on their follow-up to Concentrate as they prepare to embark on their upcoming winter tour with Deal Casino, which kicks off March 12. The band will be debuting two new tunes during Saturday’s performance, Langman said.
“After touring so much, people were really connecting with the lyrics more than I thought they would. I’m trying to more relatable things dealing with relationships, personal stuff,” Langman said. “We try to make every song have a distinguishable chorus and melody.”
Prior to the release of Concentrate, the Happy Fits released their debut EP, Awfully Apeelin’, in 2016.
Strengthening and building relationships with their fanbase is integral to the band’s future as they continue to evolve musically and professionally, Monteith said. “When we play smaller shows, the people who come out are people who are really connected to the music and get to know us and we try to interact with them as much as possible; it helps in the long run.”
Monteith added, “It’s exciting to finally play new music for people.”
For the members of ITO, “Stage on Stage” is also an opportunity to expand the band’s reach and increase their fanbase. The group — which is made up of vocalist-ukulele player Galen Deery, bassist Simon Deery, and drummer Michael Lear — is working on the follow-up to their 2017 debut EP, Barefoot. In October, 2018 the group followed released the digital single “Faith.”
Deery said the band sings, and speaks, from their hearts in an effort to take others out of their everyday lives, “to let go of the suffering and bask in the infinite love light.”
“We are absolutely stoked for the opportunity! This is the biggest show we’ve ever played. We’re feeling absolutely blessed,’” Deery exclaimed.“We’re growing as musicians, together as a band, and together as humanity, and now we’re able to play for people who may have never heard of us. That is something I look forward to so much.”