Crack the Sky reassembles for 'The Beauty of Nothing'
June 2, 2016 12:00 AM
Guitarist Rick Witkowski says of Crack the Sky: "We're dysfunctionally functional."
By Scott Mervis / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Rick Witkowski laughs about the early days of Crack the Sky, because it’s better than crying over it.
In the ’70s, the band was managed by Derek Sutton, who was the inspiration for the Ian Faith character in “This Is Spinal Tap.”
“We got lost going on the stage once,” the guitarist says. “There were a couple things in there that reminded me of us.”
Mr. Sutton went on to have great success managing Styx. Crack the Sky, fronted by New Jersey singer John Palumbo and Weirton, W.Va., guitarist Witkowski, went on to be big in Baltimore, thanks to an odd oasis of radio play there.
Crack the Sky
Where: Jergels, Marshall.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday.
Tickets: $29 advance, $34 day of show; www.jergels.com.
It was too bad, because Crack the Sky had promise, starting with Rolling Stone declaring the band’s first record the “debut album of the year” in 1975.
“We were all Beatles fans,” Mr. Witkowski says of the style, “but we loved prog rock like King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, Jethro Tull. It was an esoteric kind of thing.”
After a second record, things sort of fell apart. Mr. Palumbo left for a solo career and was replaced. Then, in the early ’80s Mr. Witkowski moved back to Weirton to become a producer at his Studio L (he has worked with Joe Grushecky, Brownie Mary and Scott Blasey, among many others) and join the B.E. Taylor Group. Mr. Palumbo, also a practicing psychologist, put CTS back together without him.
Then, in 1986, a Baltimore radio station, in the midst of a Super Bowl contest, urged the band to reunite. Since then, Crack the Sky, which now also consists of original drummer Joey D’Amico, with guitarist Bobby Hird, keyboardist Glenn Workman and bassist Dave DeMarco, has come together at various times to record and tour.
“We are dysfunctionally functional,” Mr. Witkowski says.
On Saturday at Jergels in Marshall, the group releases a 15th album, “The Beauty of Nothing,” that will appeal to fans looking for a like-minded alternative to Pink Floyd. Mr. Witkowski acknowledges David Gilmour, along with Jimmy Page, as major influences.
He says of Crack the Sky in 2016, “We’ve kind of adapted with the times. We still have the signature two guitars, and we do a lot of interplay. We used to be very prog rock and into tempo changes, stop and start. The biggest change is John’s writing has gotten a little more refined, and now we do what’s best for the songs.”
Scott Mervis: firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-263-2576. Twitter: @scottmervis_pg.
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