The Commonheart is bringing old school rock and soul to the Black Swamp Arts Festival this year.
The Pittsburgh band was started by lead vocalist Clinton Clegg and drummer Shawn McGregor in 2017. They have been in bands together since 2014.
Clegg said they wanted to have a band focused on old school rock ‘n’ roll and soul music that is reminiscent of the music they grew up listening to.
Clegg said the band started with five people. They then expanded and added backup singers and horns.
The band did switch out members once it was decided they were going to commit to making this band a real job. Once everyone was in place, the band started to gel.
“Once that happened, everybody was committed. It took time, but with everything time made it what it is now,” Clegg said.
Since then, the band has toured around the country performing live. They also released two albums.
For their second album, “Pressure,” the band partnered with Grist House, a Pittsburgh brewery, to promote their album. The brewery sold cans of beer that had the album name and cover on them.
Clegg said their management, Opus One Productions, set up the partnership. The brewery and Opus One had previously worked together to do events at the brewery.
Clegg said it was a cool experience to meet the people at the brewery and go through the whole promotional process with them.
“I’ve been a fan ever since, I go over there all the time still,” he said.
He also said he would be open to do more work with different organizations or businesses in the Pittsburgh area.
“We are proud of being from Pittsburgh. To do collabs with different people in whatever it might be, we would definitely be into and do more of,” Clegg said.
The pandemic was a challenge at first for the band.
Clegg said seeing their shows being canceled was a “slow burn”. Shows kept on being canceled each day until the lockdown nationwide had ended all of their shows.
The band had to find ways to communicate effectively with each other. Once they found their footing, it was all systems go.
“We felt like we were going, going, going and then it all stopped. It’s real scary at first but then we collected ourselves and got back to work,” Clegg said.
At first, the band stayed at home and met on Zoom to start writing songs for their third album. Eventually, they found places where they could space out and do some demo work.
Clegg said the unexpected break from the pandemic didn’t come at a bad time. The band could take time to focus on their personal lives and take time to work on their third album.
The pandemic taught Clegg some valuable lessons. He said he learned to not take the small things for granted.
Clegg said it felt special to get back in the van with the band and get into the rehearsal studio with them. He is starting to appreciate the little moments in life.
He also said he is learning to try and be more patient. During the pandemic, Clegg is trusting in his belief in his band and what they are doing is the right thing for them.
After missing the traveling and the performing, the band got to go back on the road. They played their first live show in over a year on June 25.
Clegg said it felt special to get back to performing.
“It was like two songs in and I’m almost crying on stage. You forget how much you need it,” he said.
While it felt good to be back performing live, it didn’t feel normal to them. Clegg said there were moments of normal, but overall there was a different feel to the shows.
“When we first went right back into the grind, it felt good being back on stage. It felt normal,” he said. “But, you quickly realize it’s not. I think we are living in a different time from this pandemic.”
The band had about three weeks of shows during the summer.
With only a couple more left, Clegg said the band is now focused on finishing up their third album. They plan to record the album in September and October and have it released early next year.
The band is putting their head down and working towards their next goal.
“In the Commonheart house, it’s all about the next one,” Clegg said.
The Commonheart will play on Saturday, Sept. 11 at 7:50 p.m. on the main stage.