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    American singer, Jeff Gutt, on his concert in Chennai, social causes and more

    U-METAL and hard rock fans can get their groove on next weekend as American singer and X-Factor 2013 runner-up, Jeff Gutt (39), débuts in the country with his newest band, Rival City Heights at Sir Mutha Concert Hall in the city. Well known in the American rock music circuit for the past decade, Gutt has spearheaded bands like Dry Cell and Band With No Name in the past. He has recently been touring the Middle East with his latest band, Rival City Heights, since September for a series of concerts in association with Princess Alia Foundation, an organisation that helps underprivileged and disabled children. “The thing we have appreciated the most about our tour in the Middle East and India, is that we feel like we get to bring cultures together,” says Gutt, adding that the band will render their popular songs such as Fading out, Wicked Game, Long Way Home, Reason for the War and Hallelujah.

    The tour started with a concert in Jerash, Jordan, where the band performed at the Roman amphitheatre for a three thousand strong crowd and since have toured Turkey, Egypt and Lebanon. Princess Alia Al Hussein, the founder of the Princess Alia Foundation, says that she was interested in making Gutt the voice of the foundation after watching him sing at X-Factor. “Jeff and the band are individually and collectively wonderful with children and also concerned for the environment. So they have been very open to supporting all our various projects and are generous with their time and talent as well as raising awareness about our foundation wherever possible,” says the princess of Jordan.
    Gutt is known for his powerful and high range vocals. He is often compared to Jon Bon Jovi, for his versatility. Reacting modestly to the comparison, he says, “I could only hope to be as successful as Bon Jovi is. I grew up listening to him along with other artistes from that era such as Skid Row, Guns & Roses and Nirvana. So, Bon Jovi is definitely an influence. But I also feel I have my unique voice through song writing and what I bring to the stage.”
    The band, comprising of guitarists Gary Pittel and Cyamak Ashtiani, bassist KC Jenkins and drummer Brandon Brown, was formed in early 2014 and functioned without a name till May this year. They are currently in the process of recording their debut album for which they released a three song preview in August. “The album is a reflection of us being able to write the songs we want to write. We tried to come from a place of honesty because we felt that more people would relate to it,” says Gutt, adding that they are planning to release the album by the first half of 2016. After their performance in Chennai, Rival City Heights will head back to the US for a few shows with singer/songwriter Andy Grammer and Bret Michaels of Poison fame.
    At Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall, On November 15, 7 pm onwards. Tickets start at Rs. 500. Details: bookmyshow.com

    —Arka Sengupta

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