April Wine brings vintage hits to Penn's Peak on Friday night
April Wine performs at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe Friday night.
Mention April Wine, and most American pop music fans will recall the band's 1981 power ballad, "Just Between You and Me".
In its native Canada, however, April Wine is much more of a national musical institution.
The band, which formed in 1969 in Montreal, has been active for four decades, give or take a mid-80s hiatus, releasing 17 albums. April Wine was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame this past March.
"That was a great moment for us, especially since we are celebrating our 40th year as a band," said April Wine guitarist Brian Greenway in a phone interview this week, prior to its appearance at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe Friday night as part of a bill that also includes Winger and Palmerton-based Taunted by Tomorrow.
Myles Goodwyn, April Wine's lead singer, guitarist and chief songwriter, is the lone original member still with the band. Greenway, however, came aboard in 1977 and was part of the band's breakout success in America in the late 1970s and early 80s.
It was with "Roller", a track off of the First Glance album in 1978, that April Wine first gained notice on the U.S. airwaves.
"That song broke out of Saginaw, Michigan and was number one out there," recalled Greenway. "After that, it got better and better for us for awhile."
April Wine's 1979 album Harder ... Faster continued its momentum Stateside, filled with some of the band's signature songs such as "I Like to Rock:, "Say Hello", "Before the Dawn" and a cover of King Crimson's epic "21st Century Schizoid Man".
It was 1981's Nature of the Beast album that garnered the band its two biggest hits, "Just Between You and Me" and "Sign of the Gypsy Queen". By 1982's Power Play, however, with the advent of MTV and the video music age, critics began to sour on April Wine's winning formula, even if it did produce two more hits in "Enough is Enough" and "If You Say Kay".
"The scene changed, and we bottomed out with Power Play," Greenway admitted. "The industry is fickle. You get crucified if you make your albums sound the same, and that was something we never intended. Myles has always tried to make it sound different."
The band broke up in 1984, then reformed in July, 1992. April Wine's last studio album was 2006's Roughly Speaking.
Now a quartet, April Wine still performs 60-70 shows a year. In addition to Goodwyn and Greenway, the current line-up includes bassist Breen LeBouef, who has played with Celine Dion and was a member of the band Offenbach, and drummer Blair Mackay.
"We focus on the bigger years," Greenway said of the live show. "From time to time we'll do some of the more obscure stuff for the older fans, but people want to hear "Roller" and "Sign of the Gypsy Queen", and that's all in the show."
Still, April Wine is more identified on this side of the border by its hits rather than its homeland. "Some people still think we're an American Band," said Greenway.
Tickets for April Wine, Winger and Taunted by Tomorrow at Penn's Peak Friday are $27 in advance and $32 the day of the show for general admission. Show time is 7:30 p.m. Call 1-866-605-7325 for more information.