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Music

Swedish Days ready to rock with ARRA band in lineup

Music lovers who flock to concerts and festivals every summer have more than likely heard the classic rock band ARRA perform before huge crowds of adoring fans. This month will find ARRA taking the stage at 7 p.m. June 22 at Swedish Days in Geneva.

ARRA consists of Kevin Conner on lead guitar and vocals, Jim “Blaze” Zahrobsky on rhythm guitar and vocals, Steve Latka on bass and vocals, Kevin Kreis on keyboards, Mike Gallus on drums, and lead singer Pete Greco, who joined the group a few years ago after Ronnie Platt left to go on tour with the hit group Kansas.

Voted as the Best Classic Band in the NiteLife Best of the Burbs contest five years in a row, ARRA will celebrate its 30th anniversary in October.

Conner said the group has remained a local mainstay for three decades because “the band just clicked.

“We got lucky; we all get along, we love what we do, and do our best with precision and excellence, and three- to four-part harmonies,” he said

The band has more than 100 songs in its repertoire focused on mega hits from the ’70s and ’80s, including a favored list of the most popular songs by Journey, Boston, Styx, Foreigner, Aerosmith, REO, Toto and other artists – upbeat music in which the audience can’t seem to resist the urge to move and sing along.

It comes as no surprise that the talented, longstanding musicians have shared the stage with notable artists such as Survivor, Rare Earth, Kansas, .38 Special and Dennis DeYoung of Styx.

In fact, in the early days, both Conner and Zahrobsky took guitar lessons from former Styx musician John Curulewski.

Fans have referred to the band as “high energy,” “electrifying,” “a pleasant trip down memory lane” and “a band that brings people together.”

Greco, who would go on to become lead singer, and his wife, Sandi, can attest to the “together” part. They said they met at an ARRA concert as fans of the group 24 years ago.

The special memories formed during three decades of music making never fade, including the honor of opening for DeYoung at the Pritzker Pavilion on Father’s Day for the Vietnam veterans’ welcome home anniversary in 2011.

Performing with the Ides of March also makes the top of the favorite events list, when Jim Peterik, a mogul of the music industry, joined ARRA and played keys while Conner sang “I Can’t Hold Back” by Survivor, co-written by Peterik.

Another standout moment happened when ARRA was scheduled to play a club during the middle of a heavy snowstorm. Expecting a small crowd because of the inclement weather, ARRA was shocked to find the venue jam-packed.

“When your fans stay during a blizzard, you know you have a loyal fan base,” Conner remembers fondly.

ARRA puts on 60 to 70 shows a year at clubs, casinos, outdoor series and festivals. The musicians remain one of the most sought-after bands in the state, and work hard to maintain the accolades, keeping thousands of fans smiling and swaying to the sweet beat of the memorable tunes.

To check out ARRA’s full performance schedule, which will include shows in La Grange, Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Itasca, Glendale Heights, Streamwood, Addison, Willow Springs and Willowbrook between now and autumn, visit www.arraweb.com.

Swedish Days lineup

Preceding ARRA at 5 p.m. will be a performance by Johnny Russler and the Beach Bum Band. The fun on Central Stage kicks off earlier in the week, starting at 4 p.m. June 19 with the Swedish American Children’s Choir, followed at 5 p.m. by Geneva Park District performances and the Geneva’s Got Talent semifinals at 6:30 p.m. On June 20, the contest finals take place at 5 p.m. followed by Planet Groove at 7 p.m. On June 21, the School of Rock Geneva House Band plays at 3 p.m., followed by Dancing Queen at 5 p.m. and Semple at 7 p.m.

If you go

WHAT: ARRA band at Swedish Days

WHEN: 7 p.m. June 22

WHERE: Central Stage on South Third Street in front of courthouse in downtown Geneva

COST: Free

INFO: For full lineup of entertainment, contact genevachamber.com/swedish_days.php, 630-232-6060

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