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Lock Haven band RIZE brings arena rock to local stages

LOCK HAVEN — In the mid-1970s, a style of rock music called “arena rock” or “stadium rock” originated, becoming increasingly popular throughout the ’80s and even into the ’90s. Designed for large audiences, the highly produced music featured a strong emphasis on melody, anthem choruses, prominent guitar effects and the use of keyboard instruments.

The ’70s and ’80s may be gone, but the fans are still around, staying entertained by an old school band called RIZE, who try their best to keep the arena rock era alive and well in the area and beyond.

Gary Lynn (Guitarist/vocalist) put the band together in late 2017, after he and Kevin VanAmburg (guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist) decided to call it quits after almost 20 years with the band Mason Dixon.

“We had all been playing in local bands for quite some time and had crossed paths, either playing together or through other friends that had played together,” VanAmburg said. “The band is based out of the Lock Haven area with four of us living here — two in Lock Haven and two in Avis. Wiley is the only ‘outsider’ — he lives in Muncy.”

In addition to VanAmburg and Lynn, RIZE features Greg “Wiley” Weigle, on drums and vocals; Paul Chapman, on keyboards and vocals; and Steve Hauser, on bass and vocals.

As for the group’s title, the band just kicked around names and came up with the idea of a Phoenix rising from the ashes of all the other bands they had been in. So, they settled on “RIZE,” with a Phoenix as part of their logo.

“RIZE is the kind of band we all wanted to be in, but never really had the right personnel to pull it off,” VanAmburg said. “We play what we like to call ‘arena rock’ stuff from bands that were packing stadiums in the ’70s and ’80s like Styx, Foreigner, Journey and REO Speedwagon.”

VanAmburg notes that there aren’t many rock clubs left in the area like there were back in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

“It’s kind of a weird music scene these days,” he said. “We find ourselves playing in venues that a band like us wouldn’t have dreamed of playing 20-30 years ago simply because they are the only places that have bands anymore. We are an old school rock band, and unfortunately there aren’t many old school rock clubs anymore.”

RIZE only plays a few shows a month as they all have busy lives, with some members playing in multiple bands, while others are busy with things outside of music. The band’s upcoming shows include March 16 at the Jersey Shore Elks Club; March 23 at the Lock Haven American Legion; April 6 at the Beech Creek Legion; and April 13 at the Avis American Legion.

“We have a few key shows coming up this summer,” VanAmburg said. “We’ll be playing the Lock Haven Summer Concert Series on the floating stage on June 30th, Riverfest in Woodward Township on July 13th, and we’ll be playing the Annual Jaycees Labor Day Regatta on September 2nd. We are waiting on confirmation for another big summer holiday show also.”

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