The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 15, 2009

Emerson Drive to headline homecoming | Country band will perform at Pitt-Johnstown


By TOM LAVIS

TLAVIS@TRIBDEM.COM

Dale Wallace has enjoyed great success in the music business, but he and other members of Emerson Drive believe their best days are ahead.

“We have a lot to accomplish and whatever success we have enjoyed, we want to continue to climb the ladder to be the next Rascal Flatts or Eagles,” said Wallace, keyboardist for the group.

Emerson Drive, along with alternative rock band Blessid Union of Souls, will perform Sept. 26 during Pitt-Johnstown’s homecoming weekend.

Wallace said the band, which hails from Canada, is touring in support of its fourth studio album, “Believe.”

The band has secured its place as the premiere contemporary country band with such hits as “I Should Be Sleeping” and “Fall Into Me.”

Its last album, “Countrified,” gave the band its first No. 1 single, “Moments,” which was nominated for a dozen major awards, including a Grammy, and set the stage for “Believe.”

“We have played a lot of college tours, and we are looking forward to performing,” Wallace said. “Playing live is not working, as far as we’re concerned.”

If that is the case, the band has not been working a lot.

Wallace said the band plays to live audiences 11 months a year.

“We take only one month off a year, and that is at Christmas,” Wallace said.

For their latest album, the performers worked with producers Josh Leo and Teddy Gentry of the legendary country band Alabama.

“Belongs To You,” the project’s first single, is a passionate love song. “Your Last,” which features the band’s world-class harmonies, is a call to appreciate the moment. Songs range from “That Kind of Beautiful,” an upbeat appreciation of a woman’s off-the-charts beauty, and “Life Down Here,” a quirky look at the universality of youthful love and passion that displays the band’s instrumental prowess, to “Clean,” the powerful story of a woman in the early stages of recovery.

“We like to produce an album with a common thread in order to tell a story,” Wallace said.

Other Emerson Drive members are Brad Mates, lead singer; Danick Dupelle, guitarist; David Pichette, fiddle; and Mike Melancon, drums.

The quintet’s ability to choose first-rate songs, coupled with their growth as songwriters, has made them one of modern music’s most entertaining acts.

“We’re at a point in our careers that we are getting constant submissions from middle- and top-drawer songwriters in Nashville for our consideration,” Wallace said.

Doors to the sports center open at 6:30 p.m., and organizers are optimistic that it will be filled to its 2,200-seat capacity.

“Ticket sales have started to take off,” said Bryan Valentine, office of student life director.

“Students often wait until closer to the day of the show to get their tickets, but general admission tickets are going fast.”

The band’s performance will follow the crowning of the 2009 Pitt-Johnstown homecoming queen.

Another homecoming activity is a parade at 11 a.m. Sept. 26.

The parade, which steps off at Richland Cinemas and ends at Blackington Hall on campus, will be led by the grand marshalls, members of Blessid Union of Souls, and the homecoming queen candidates.

Other parade participants are marching bands from Forest Hills, Greater Johnstown and Richland high schools and a number of student floats.

On Sept. 25, choreographed fireworks by Zambelli Fireworks will be presented at 8 p.m.



Celebration

Who: Emerson Drive and Blessid Union of Souls.

What: Pitt-Johnstown homecoming.

Where: Pitt-Johnstown Sports Center, 450 Schoolhouse Road, Richland Township.

When: Sept. 26; doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets: Visit www.indietickets.com/tickets/customer/home.php.

Cost: $12.50 plus $2.50 service fee.