FireHouse

FireHouse, including singer C.J. Snare, performs Saturday, June 22, 2019, at the train station stage in downtown Johnstown for Thunder in the Valley.

FireHouse is a rock ’n’ roll rarity.

Formed in 1989, three of the four original members still remain in the band, which headlined the Thunder in the Valley motorcycle rally on Saturday at the train station stage in downtown Johnstown.

Their longevity stands in contrast to so many rock acts that fizzle out early, or, if they do last, go through many lineups throughout the years.

“We just do what we do,” guitarist Bill Leverty said during an interview before the show. 

“We like to rock. We like to get out and do what we want to do. We play the music we want to do. We haven’t really been swayed by trends or anything. We’ve always wanted to be a melodic hard rock band with a little bit of blues bass, a little bit of funk bass, and a little bit of soul, and a little bit of country, and a little bit of pop, and a little bit of metal. So we put all that in and it makes us all happy. That’s the thing – staying true to our roots.”

Leverty, singer and keyboardist C.J. Snare and drummer Michael Foster were part of the original band. Current bassist Allen McKenzie came on in 2004.

FireHouse, which won the American Music Award for Best New Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Band of 1991, has sold more than 7 million records. 

Their power ballad “Love of a Lifetime” became their biggest hit, charting at No. 5.

That success has provided them the opportunity to tour for almost three decades, playing to crowds such as the one in Johnstown.

“I remember when I was a kid, I went to see Van Halen, my first big concert,” Foster said. “When those lights went down, the crowd went, ‘Ahhhahhh.’ 

“When I hear that, it kind of brings back all those memories. It’s a great experience. That’s the fun part, playing on stage, giving it back to the crowd. And they’re giving it back to you. It’s pretty cool.”

Saturday’s show was their first time at Thunder in the Valley.

“Nothing but positive vibes here,” McKenzie said. 

“This is my kind of event. When I’m at home, these are my kind of people, these are who I hang with, the biker crowd. I got a lot of favorite places at home. 

“I can’t think of a better place to hold an event like this. It’s gorgeous here, a very nice little town. Everyone here is friendly.”

The concert provided a homecoming of sorts for Snare, who grew up in Lock Haven.

“Coming through from Pittsburgh, the Allegheny Mountains and everything, it was a little touch of home,” Snare said, “and that’s very cool. This event has been going on for 22 years, so we’re thankful, grateful and honored to be a part of it.” 

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

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