Iris makes Valley stop to preview new CD
Tribune Chronicle - May 24, 2006
By Andy Gray

AUSTINTOWN — Donnie Iris cruises into the Mahoning Valley tonight to offer a sneak preview of his first CD of new music this millennium.

Iris, songwriter/keyboard player Mark Avsec and other members of the cruisers will attend a listening party for ‘‘Ellwood City’’ at 7 p.m. at The Wedge, Wedgewood Plaza, South Raccoon Road.

Iris said he’s been working on the CD off and on for about three years.

‘‘The way we record is weird,’’ he said.‘‘We’ll get together in the studio, and all we do is jam for a few days. The stuff we like, we keep, and the stuff we don’t like, we throw out. Then Mark will take those songs home and write a lyric for the rhythm tracks. Then we’ll get together and work on harmonies and vocals.’’

Except for a cover of the Sam & Dave classic ‘‘Soul Man,’’ the CD features all originals. The CD is named after Iris’ hometown.

‘‘I hope there are some things that are retro, like some of the old things we’ve done before, and there are lot of newer, dance-oriented tunes,’’ Iris said. ‘‘When you’re in your car listening to the radio, you hear new things today, and a lot of those things will affect what you do now, just as The Beatles influenced me when I was starting out.’’

‘‘Ellwood City’’ and ‘‘River of Love’’ are the only ones they’ve played live, but Iris said he expects to play three or four songs from the new CD in his shows this summer, which include a concert at 7:30 p.m. June 10 at Chevrolet Amphitheatre in Pittsburgh (tickets are $22.50 and $15 and are available through Ticketmaster) and a free concert July 9 at Mill Creek MetroParks’ Judge Morley Pavilion in Youngstown.

That doesn’t mean Donnie Iris & the Cruisers will be forsaking its ’80s hits like ‘‘Love Is Like a Rock’’ and ‘‘Ah, Leah.’’

‘‘We’re not the type of group that’s going to go out and slam 12 new songs in your face,’’ Iris said. ‘‘That’s not what we do.’’

Tonight’s CD listening party is hosted by WNCD-FM (93.3 FM) and Armstrong Cable, which is teaming with the Iris for several promotional events. While the Mahoning Valley has been a Cruisers’ stronghold for years, Armstrong Cable’s presence in the region is one of the reason Austintown was selected for the first listening party.

Iris said the band won’t be performing live, but they’ll be hanging out and meeting and talking with fans during the listening party. Admission is free