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WEEK/WEEKEND RECAP 8/27/07
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Jim Price
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Joined: 07 Dec 2002
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 Post Posted: Thursday Jan 31, 2008 
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WEEK/WEEKEND RECAP 8/27/07

COUNTING CROWS/LIVE/COLLECTIVE SOUL @ BLAIR COUNTY BALLPARK, ALTOONA 8/21/07

Looming large on the concert calendar for most of the summer was this night, when three of the biggest names to emerge from the 90's descended upon Blair County Ballpark. Collective Soul, Live and the Counting Crows were coming to town. I had never seen any of these three bands before, so I was eager to check this concert out, especially since it was happening in my backyard!

Clouds, cool temperatures and off-and-on rain were the order for the evening. But over 3,000 fans braved the elements to attend. Although I was concerned about finding parking, I was able to easily find a parking space in the Park Avenue parking lot of Lakemont Park, parked and hoofed my way to the ballpark.

After the National Anthem was played through the sound system, Collective Soul was set to kick off the show. But their gear wasn't; cord problems with one of the guitar effects arrays delayed the start of Collective Soul's set for several minutes. Eventually, though, the issue was resolved, and Collective Soul delivered a sharp-sounding set, doing hits such as "Heavy" and "December." They also did a few newer songs, such as their new single "Hollywood" from their latest album Afterwords. Towards set's end, singer Ed Roland strapped on his acoustic guitar to perform "The World I Know" before the band closed the set with "Shine." They locked into their grooves tightly and consistently, and their overall execution was close to CD quality. Besides the technical glitch that delayed the set, the only other low point was a heckler who flipped the bird and gave the neck-chop gesture, getting Ed Roland's attention; enough so that Ed sicced security on him and glared at the idiot until security removed him. There's an a**hole in every crowd, I guess.

Ed Roland of Collective Soul.

Joel Kosche of Collective Soul.

Collective Soul, jamming during “December.”

Again, Ed Roland of Collective Soul.

After the first intermission, York's most famous sons, Live, then brought the passion as they played a mix of favorites and newer material. Opening with "All Over You," Live played through a range of material, including an acoustic rendition of "River," "Selling the Drama," "The Dolphin's Cry," "I Alone," "Lightning Crashes" and "Lakini's Juice." The group also did several songs from their latest studio album, Songs From Black Mountain, such as "Where Do We Go From Here," "Home" and "Wings." Singer Ed Kowalczyk also led the group on a surging rendition of Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line." Live varied the intensity throughout the set, mixing softer acoustic moments with fiery, anthemic rock; they used the low-key acoustic moments as a nice build-up to the climactic homestretch, when they broke out their harder and more spirited favorites. This was actually the first time I had ever seen Live live, and I was impressed.

Patrick Dahlheimer of Live.

Ed Kowalczyk of Live.

Patrick Dahlheimer and Chad Taylor of Live.

Again, Ed Kowalczyk of Live.

Again, Patrick Dahlheimer and Chad Taylor of Live.

Live, rallying the crowd to sing along during “Lightning Crashes.”

Once again, Live.

During the second intermission, a light drizzle started to fall on the stagefront crowd, after a few raindrops spit here and there during the first two groups. As Counting Crows took the stage, a brief downpour drenched the crowd in front of the stage. Counting Crows' wide-ranging set proceeded to encompass the full scope of their musical terrain, from softer ballads to upbeat rock. Charismatic singer Adam Duritz fronted the group as they did their popular hits such as "Mr. Jones," "Accidentally in Love" (from Shrek 2), "A Long December," and "Hanginaround," this latter song highlighted by singer Adam's two young sons playing along with the group onstage. The group also broke out a funky read of "Big Yellow Taxi," and introduced a number of new songs as well. I was impressed with Adam as a frontman; he displayed voice, personality and charisma, and held the audience in the palm of his hand from the moment the Crows took the stage. In his own freewheeling way, Adam offered insight on nearly every song the group did. Actually, I was surprised by how much I liked the Counting Crows' live set; as out of the three bands on the bill, this was the group I was least excited about heading into the concert. But this performance won me over; and I thought the Crows did the most impressive set of the three.

A sudden downpour drenched the audience as Counting Crows started their set.

Dan Vickrey of Counting Crows.

Adam Duritz of Counting Crows.

The Counting Crows.

David Immergluck of Counting Crows.

Again, the Counting Crows.

Jim Bogios of Counting Crows.

Again, Adam Duritz of Counting Crows.

Behind the piano for the start of "A Long December," Adam Duritz of Counting Crows.

Once again, the Counting Crows.

Adam Duritz and the Counting Crows, getting the Altoona crowd fired up.

A sentimental highlight of the Counting Crows set, Adam Duritz's two boys playing along with the band onstage during "Hanginaround."

Showing his skills on mandolin, David Immergluck of Counting Crows.

Standing before the audience as the encore draws to a close, the Counting Crows.

I was also impressed with the Counting Crows' public service campaign during the concert; between bands and during their own encore, band members focused attention on several local public service organizations in the Altoona area, and encouraged audience members to get involved and volunteer with these organizations. In this age of major band rock star egos, it was refreshing to see a band use their stature to give back to the communities that host their shows. Very cool!

Rainy weather notwithstanding, I thought this was an excellent concert; hopefully attendance was strong enough to encourage more major concerts like this at Blair County Ballpark in the future.

BROKEN PONY @ THE HITCHING POST, ALTOONA 8/22/07

Able to escape the workplace at a reasonable time, I headed to the Hitching Post for some ribs and some country-fried sounds, courtesy of Broken Pony.

As I arrived and ordered up my ribs from Lisa behind the bar, Broken Pony had some guests helping out; Bob and Patty Helbig (Bob & Patty), with Patty singing her best Patsy Cline voice on a rendition of "Crazy." I also noticed that regular guitar man Randy Rutherford was not on the stage this night, and Chuck Knepper was filling in for him instead. Patty also sang Patsy's "I Fall to Pieces," before she and Bob sang a duet on "Blue Bayou." Chuck then sang the lead on Eric Clapton's "After Midnight," followed by acoustic guitarist Pat McGinnis on a version of James Taylor's "How Sweet It Is." Chuck sang the next two; James Taylor's "Don't Want to be Lonely tonight" and Chuck Berry's "Maybelline;" before Pat sang the rest of the way on renditions of The Fabulous Thunderbirds' "She's Tough" into Jerry Jeff Walker's "Redneck Mothers," followed by "Louise" to close the show.

Again, I thoroughly enjoyed the performance from Broken Pony and their guests. Chuck, Pat, pedal steel player Kim Metzger and drummer Tim Yingling crafted a nice blend of country, folk, blues and light rock backdrops, with a tasty balance between acoustic and electric guitar, and Kim's pedal steel accents providing the rural color. Tim's drum work was solid, as his rhythms were steady and never overpowering, and his use of brushes during the gentler moments were a nice added touch. Although Chuck was filling in, he sounded perfectly at home with this group, and the vibe was upbeat as Chuck was touching musical base with some musician friends he doesn't get to play with every day.

Once again, Broken Pony delivered a quality performance, and gave me even more reason to look forward to this band's monthly Wednesday "Country Night" performances at the Hitching Post. Another good show!

Guests Bob and Patty Helbig join Kim Metzger and Broken Pony during their performance at the Hitching Post.

THE SILENCERS @ WING-OFF, LAKEMONT PARK, ALTOONA 8/23/07

The Lakemont Park Wing-Off's just can't catch a break this year, can they?

After a strong start during the first week, the Wing-Off's endured two weeks without beer sales due to PLCB and state police shenanigans. Every subsequent week since that issue was resolved, rain and storms have soaked the grounds either before or during the Wing-Off's. Two weeks before, the storm deluge was so heavy that the week's scheduled band, Anthony Stauffer & Holy Smoke, packed their gear back up and left! And word was that rain had impacted the prior week's Wing-Off - the last scheduled one - featuring Square One. But the Wing-Off got a lease on life for one more week, and was extended one more Thursday in an attempt to allow folks to enjoy at least one more with good weather.

Alas, it was not to be. It had been raining for most of the day, and a drenching rain and cool temperatures prevailed as I arrived. The band this day, The Silencers, was set up underneath one of the pavilions instead of the usual Wing-Off stage area. And although the attendance was light, vendors were still selling wings. With my one-dollar clear plastic rain coat to keep me dry, I ventured to the Cantina pavilion to procure wings. At least I wouldn't have to wait in much of a line.

Returning and procuring a bench under the band pavilion, I watched as The Silencers - singer/bassist Ron Sassano, guitarist/singer Terry Curfman and drummer/singer Phil Harpster - played a variety of rock'n'roll favorites, mostly from the 60's and 70's. The trio's repertoire was quite wide, as they did such numbers as Sam the Sham's "Wooly Bully," Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl," Roy Orbison's "Oh Pretty Woman," the Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There," Tommy James & the Shondells' "Draggin' the Line," the McCoys' "Hang On Sloopy," The Rivieras "California Sun," Bad Company's "Can't Get Enough," Georgia Satellites' "Keep Your Hands to Yourself," The Turtles' "Happy Together," Loggins & Messina's "Your Mama Don't Dance" and more. One noteworthy surprise the group performed along the way was the Everly Brothers' version of "Love Hurts."

The Silencers did a good job. All three band members did respectable jobs singing lead throughout the Wing-Off performance; and they instrumentally were on the mark. There wasn't a lot of flash or fanfare to what The Silencers did, but it all sounded good, and in spite of the sparse attendance at this rain-soaked Wing-Off, at least a few folks got up and danced during the course of the performance.

Thus the book closed on a disappointing summer for the Lakemont Park Wing-Off's. Word surfaced soon after this Wing-Off that Lakemont Park would be weighing seriously whether it would bring back the Wing-Off's in 2008, claiming that the event wasn't attracting people into Lakemont Park or making the Park any money. It seems like the local state police are hellbent on finding reasons to shut down or hinder this event every year; I don't see other area wing-eating events getting harassed like Lakemont's Wing-Off does. And as this day again proved, the onslaught of rainy weather didn't help things either. The Wing-Off's future at this location is in doubt; hopefully if Lakemont does abandon the event, another location (like the Railroader's Museum) can pick up the event and perhaps inject some new life into it.

Under the pavilion, The Silencers entertain what few folks showed up for this rain-soaked final “rain-date” Wing-Off.

Ron Sassano of The Silencers.

Phil Harpster of The Silencers.

Terry Curfman of The Silencers.

Again, Terry Curfman of The Silencers.

Again, Phil Harpster of The Silencers.

FELIX & THE HURRICANES @ CITY LIMITS, ALTOONA 8/23/07

After the Wing-Off, I returned to the workplace to log some more hours in the production studio, before heading to City Limits for a special Thursday appearance by Felix & the Hurricanes. The 'Canes' former drummer and singer, John McKnight, was up from Atlanta for some rest and relaxation with friends and family, and some good-time jamming with his former band.

I arrived in the middle of the second set, and another audience member, Big Jim, updated me on what I had missed. Most of the show thus far had been the current Hurricanes trio of Felix, Jeff and Bob. John McKnight had just stepped onstage, though, and was behind the drum kit and jamming with Felix and Jeff on the Allman Brothers' "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed." This variation of the Hurricanes continued the music with Peter Green/Santana's "Black Magic Woman," before Felix offered a solo guitar prelude of "Amazing Grace," which led into Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Ballad of Curtis Loew." The group then did Dr. Hook's "Cover of the Rolling Stone," before ripping into a fifteen-minute scorching rendition of the Outlaws' "Green Grass and High Tides" to close the set.

John McKnight was happy to be home, and the mood onstage was clearly upbeat as he touches musical bases with Felix and Jeff once again. Although the house wasn't packed, the folks present at City Limits were clearly enjoying the musical magic taking place.

Bob returned to the drum kit for the entire final set of the night, which opened with Pat Travers/Stan Lewis' "Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)." After versions of Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me" and Ted Nugent's "Free for All," guest Loren Johnson stepped up to the lead mic to belt out some voice on Bonnie Raitt's "Something to Talk About" and Journey's "Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin.'" Jeff sang out the lead on Free's "All Right Now," before the group's night-ending rendition of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" drew some ladies to do some frisky dance moves on the floor to end the night.

It was a typical good time Hurricanes show, and John McKnight being back in town and in the house added to the festive mood.

Felix & the Hurricanes, onstage at City Limits.

Once again, the Hurricanes.

VENT @ THE HITCHING POST, ALTOONA 8/24/07

For a while I had noticed the name Vent playing around on area stages, but their performance schedule never quite matched up with my availability to check them out. That changed this night, when I headed to the Hitching Post to catch my first look at them.

I arrived just prior to the start of Vent's second set of the evening, and a mid-sized crowd populated the Hitching Post. It had been a hot day, and it was a little steamy inside the Post. I found an unpopulated spot on the bench along the wall near the stage to watch the band from.

Vent – new singer Kenny Marks, guitarist/singer David Plisco, bassist Robert Staph and drummer Brad Woodring – kicked off the second set with a song I hadn't heard done live in ages, Jesus Jones' "Right Here Right Now." Vent continued to mix 80's and 90's rock with a few recent favorites, doing numbers from 3 Doors Down, Radiohead, Live, Fuel, Local H, Matchbox 20, Caroline's Spine and more during their second set. The sultry conditions inside the Post were causing me to sit relatively still so I wouldn't get overheated; apparently the rest of the crowd was doing the same, because these folks were pretty quiet and unresponsive to Vent during this set.

The heat and lateness of the evening began to take their toll on the audience during the nightcap set, as the crowd thinned out as the night wore on. Vent's final set of the night featured songs from Rage Against the Machine, Soft Cell, Ugly Kid Joe, CCR, Modern English, Weezer, Fountains of Wayne, Lit, Red Hot Chili Peppers and more, eventually culminating with Violent Femmes' "Blister in the Sun" to close out the night.

Vent dealt with the steamy conditions the best they could, and did a respectable job overall. Instrumentally they were fairly steady and on the mark. Singer Kenny was still getting acclimated to his new band surroundings, and a little timid and off-key in spots. But more stage time with Vent’s busy show schedule should help him get up to speed.

It probably wasn't the ideal night Vent was hoping for to debut in a new room in Altoona; but they did what they could. Time will tell if it was good enough to earn a return visit.

Vent, making their Hitching Post debut.

Again, Vent.

Kenny Marks of Vent.

David “VENTGtr” Plisco of Vent..

Robert Staph of Vent.

“SELLING OUT THE NATIVE SONS” w/THE NIGHTCRAWLERS/TED McCLOSKEY & THE HI-FI’S/THE RUSTLANDERS @ THE STATE THEATRE, STATE COLLEGE 8/25/07

I almost didn’t make it to this special show, despite it being on my schedule for the better part of the summer. With the aforementioned John McKnight in town for the weekend, I was invited to a picnic by John’s father, Dewayne, at his Altoona residence this day. This was a great time, getting to kick back and relax, and chat with John, Dewayne, Rockpage Ron, all three current Hurricanes and others. I didn’t want to leave as the sun was setting, but I knew a special show was happening in State College this night, and didn’t want to miss it.

The State Theatre was presenting “Selling Out the Native Sons,” a special triple-CD-release showcase featuring The Nightcrawlers, Ted McCloskey & the Hi-Fi's and The Rustlanders; all officially unveiling new CD's. This turned out being an excellent show, as all three bands brought something extra to the stage to make their performances this night special.

Celebrating the release of their first full-length CD, Blue Silver, The Nightcrawlers opened the evening by showcasing songs from the album. I arrived midway through their performance, but got to witness as the group did selections from the album, including updated versions of "Black Hole" and their popular "African Echo” to close out the set. Along the way, an ethnic-styled dancer performed with the group onstage to add some visual imagery to their worldly-flavored music. As expected, the Nightcrawlers sounded good, and were well-received by the audience.

The Nightcrawlers, showcasing their music at the State Theatre.

Noah Figlin and Peter Jogo of The Nightcrawlers.

Again, The Nightcrawlers.

Aeb Byrne of The Nightcrawlers.

Once again, The Nightcrawlers.

Performing her flute solo on “African Echo,” Aeb Byrne of The Nightcrawlers.

During intermission, the Nightcrawlers sold and autographed copies of their new CD in the theatre lobby, and met and greeted the many fans who were there to witness their show.

Second on the bill this evening was Ted McCloskey & the Hi-Fi's, celebrating Ted’s new album, Technicolor Thieves. Joined by guest Molly Countermine on backing vocals, keys and percussion, Ted and his Hi-Fi’s – bassist Rene Witzke and drummer Daryl Branford – performed numerous selections from the CD, including “Lowest Common Grain of Salt,” “Zombie for Rent,” “Drinking in Tonight,” “Maybe Just Maybe” and “Wait, Wait.” For this group’s added extra, a few songs were accompanied by videos projected behind the group. During "The Last Independent Record Store," about the passage of the era of indy record stores in State College, video imagery showing vintage album covers and scenes from City Lights (State College’s only remaining “independent record store”) were shown as the group performed. And "Mermaid in a Bar" featured an accompanying video showing – what else? – mermaids swimming under water. Ted and the Hi-Fi’s were sharp in their execution, and kept the vibe energetic and upbeat.

Ted McCloskey.

Performing in front of video footage during the song “The Last Independent Record Store,” Ted McCloskey & the Hi-Fi’s.

Again, Ted McCloskey & the Hi-Fi’s.

More record shelf-browsing footage plays behind Ted McCloskey & the Hi-Fi’s.

Playing in front of mermaid video during “Mermaid in a Bar,” Ted & the Hi-Fi’s.

After the second intermission, the third and final band of the show, The Rustlanders, took their turn on the stage. Marking the release of their self-titled debut CD, The Rustlanders – singer/guitarist Jason McIntyre, guitarist/singer Jason “Junior” Tutwiler, bassist/singer Corry Drake and drummer/singer Chris Rattie – showcased their Americana-flavored blend of sounds. Blending elements of country, folk, blues and rock into their overall sound, the group did songs from the CD such as "Holdin' Out," "Blind Faith," "Border Town" and "My Rock and Roll." Along the way, The Rustlanders welcomed several guests on stage, including musicians who helped out on the album such as John Rattie on organ, and Cory Neidig on banjo; also Kim Metzger on pedal steel, and two backing singers. The musicianship was excellent throughout the set, from the nice blend of guitars, keys, and pedal steel flavors, to the focused and passionate vocal deliveries of Jason McIntyre and Chris, combined with two- and three-part backing harmonies.

The Rustlanders.

Again, The Rustlanders.

Jason McIntyre of The Rustlanders.

With guests joining them onstage, The Rustlanders.

Again, Jason McIntyre of The Rustlanders.

This turned into a special evening, with all three bands putting their best efforts forth to showcase their unique styles and sounds before the audience. This show was well-attended, and all three bands were received well. The “Selling Out the Native Sons” showcase, beyond being a triple CD-release event, was an opportunity for State College local original music to be in the spotlight; and The Nightcrawlers, Ted McCloskey & the Hi-Fi’s and The Rustlanders took full advantage of that opportunity and represented the local music community well.

17TH “END OF SUMMER JAM” @ CRESSON SPORTSMEN’S CLUB, CRESSON 8/26/07

While there was still plenty of warm weather left in this outdoor season, school was ready to start back up again, and the sequence of summer-closing live music events in our region had begun, prefaced by the final Lakemont Park Wing-Off and Tussey Mountain Wing Challenge events just days before. The next such event was the 17th annual End Of Summer Jam, happening this day at the Cresson Sportsmen's Club, with proceeds going to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

This year’s event was in danger of not happening. A new regime in control of the Cresson Sportsmen’s Club had initially wanted to discontinue the event, citing insurance and legal issues regarding the presence of alcohol at the event. Show organizer Mickey Luckenbaugh pleaded his case before the powers that be, and the show was preserved at this location for at least one more year, with a few compromises. First, the End Of Summer Jam returned to being a single-day event instead of the two-day, entire weekend event of the past few years. Mickey had to obtain an insurance policy for the event, and the Cresson Sportsmen applied for a special permit to sell beer on the grounds this day. Although the situation was resolved only a few weeks before the scheduled date of the event, a number of bands expressed an interest in playing the show, and eight were selected to be on the stage this day. And with the previous year’s sound company, Ace’s Music, unable to run sound at this year’s event, another sound provider had to be procured; Jamie Shumack was hired on to provide the sound gear this year.

Spirit Lost kicked off the afternoon, awakening the mountains with their brand of multi-textured, dynamic modern rock, mixing original songs with select current rocking covers. The group sounded sharp on original tunes like “Pieces of a Stained Glass Mind,” “Misery of a Wounded Heart” and “Alone;” plus tunes from Bush, Live, Collective Soul, Foo Fighters, Tool and more. These guys and gal sound stronger each time I see them; their kickoff set at this year’s “End of Summer Jam” was no exception.

Spirit Lost kicks off the 17th annual End Of Summer Jam benefit for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Again, Spirit Lost.

Lisa Fazenbaker of Spirit Lost.

Once again, Spirit Lost.

Austin Tepsic of Spirit Lost.

Again, Lisa Fazenbaker of Spirit Lost.

Again, Austin Tepsic of Spirit Lost.

Second on the bill was The Red Arrow, and my first chance to see this group following the addition of Big Jim Ricotta on bass. Jim, singer Debbie Bush, guitarist/singer Dick Kos and drummer Mike Crocetti fired things up with their fun mixture of classic rock and roll, which picked up momentum as the set progressed. Deb and Dick swapped lead vocal duties, with Deb kicking things off with the Bad Company double-shot of “Can’t Get Enough” and “Movin’ On,” followed by Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me with Your Best Shot.” Dick then took the spotlight to growl out ZZ Top’s “La Grange,” which diverted to a Norman Greenbaum “Spirit in the Sky” journey before returning for a “La Grange” finish. After Dick sang Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” my favorite highlight of the set; a feisty rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Say You Love Me,” with Dick, Big Jim and Mike picking up the song where Deb left off, and elevating it to a heated finish. Eric Clapton’s “Let It Rain,” Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way,” Robert Palmer’s “Bad Case of Loving You” and Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” closed out the set. This updated edition of The Red Arrow was gelling together well based on this set, and the End Of Summer Jam crowd howled approval along the way.

Dick Kos of The Red Arrow.

Making their End Of Summer Jam debut, The Red Arrow.

Debbie Bush of The Red Arrow.

Again, Deb of The Red Arrow.

Making his first of two appearances on stage this day, Big Jim Ricotta of The Red Arrow.

Again, Dick Kos of The Red Arrow.

Mike Crocetti of The Red Arrow.

Once again, Deb Bush of The Red Arrow.

Again, Mike Crocetti of The Red Arrow.

The Red Arrow keeps it rocking.

Again, The Red Arrow.

Once again, Dick Kos of The Red Arrow.

Next was my first look at The Verge. Singer/guitarist Jeff Renner, singer/bassist Matt Burns and drummer Steve Brulia played a crisp-sounding set of classic and modern rock, kicking off with Robin Trower’s “Day of the Eagle.” With Matt and Jeff alternating lead vocal duties, the trio played songs from Badfinger, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Earle, AC/DC, Aerosmith, U2, Poison, Great White and Ted Nugent, Aerosmith. Their execution was sharp, with Matt’s busy bass work and Jeff’s precision guitar playing mingling and swirling around Steve’s punchy drumbeats. Both Matt and Jeff did capable jobs on the singing front as well. The Verge delivered a solid and energetic set that kept the building crowd festive and attentive.

Jeff Renner of The Verge.

The Verge, playing their first End Of Summer Jam.

Matt Burns of The Verge.

Again, The Verge.

Again, Matt Burns of The Verge.

Steve Brulia of The Verge.

Jeff Clapper of the Hurricanes looks on as a youngster plays along on his toy guitar.

Again, a youngster with his toy guitar.

Pittsburgh area rockers The Tony Mollick Project then took the stage to deliver their blend of blues-rocking favorites and original songs. Tony on guitar and vocals, Fuzz McGirk on bass and David Blake on drums were fired up as they played original songs such as the set-opening “Likely Story” and “Rusty Angel,” and spirited and powerful renditions of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Willie the (P)imp” and “Couldn’t Stand the Weather,” Peter Green/Santana’s “Black Magic Woman,” ZZ Top’s “Cheap Sunglasses,” The Stray Cats’ “Rumble In Brighton,” “The Peter Gunn Theme,” Gov’t Mule/Allman Brothers’ “Rockin’ Horse” and AC/DC’s “Beating Around the Bush.” TMP’s execution was tight, and ringleader Tony confidently brought his A game on the guitar with some scorching lead work. It was another reliably fiery End Of Summer Jam set that kept the mood of the afternoon at a pleasant high.

The Tony Mollick Project.

Namesake Tony Mollick of the Tony Mollick Project.

Fuzz McGirk of the Tony Mollick Project.

Again, Tony Mollick.

Again working his strings, Tony Mollick.

Taking in TMP’s performance, show organizer Mickey Luckenbaugh.

David Blake of the Tony Mollick Project.

Once again, the Tony Mollick Project.

Felix & the Hurricanes then kept their streak of consecutive End Of Summer Jam appearances alive (they’ve done all 17 of ‘em) with their blazing set of blues rock and original songs. Felix, Bob and Jeff did new and established original tunes, kicking off with “Hurtin’ People,” and also doing “It’s Not Me,” “Issues,” “Black Widow,” “La La Land” and “Keep on Rockin.’” They also broke out renditions of the Allman Brothers’ “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” and a Johnny Winter number. One of their highlights was an interesting medley featuring Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Ballad of Curtis Loew” and their soulful original song “Walking a Straight Line,” bridged by their lively new instrumental “Wild Turkey.” Again, the Hurricanes were well-received, and their set inspired some dancers in front of the stage.

17 End Of Summer Jam benefits, and 17 consecutive appearances by Felix & the Hurricanes.

Lead Hurricane Felix Kos.

Again, Hurricane Felix.

Jeff Clapper of Felix & the Hurricanes.

Again, Felix & the Hurricanes.

Seated onlookers take in the set by Felix & the Hurricanes.

Once again, Felix, Bob and Jeff.

Bob Watters of Felix & the Hurricanes.

Again, Hurricane Jeff.

A nice-sized crowd enjoys the music and festivities of End Of Summer Jam.

A dancer grooves and has fun during the Hurricanes’ set.

This young lady relaxes on a stump during the Hurricanes’ performance.

With their regularly-scheduled rhythm section unavailable due to work and medical issues, Half Tempted continued with a different roster this day; singer/guitarist Ron Dalansky, former bassist Jim Ricotta handling bottom end and Josh Imler behind the drum kit. Opening with Drivin’ N’Cryin’s “Fly Me Courageous,” Half Tempted rocked the Cresson Sportsmen’s grounds with tunes from AC/DC, Kiss, Free, Black Sabbath, Poison, Aerosmith, Cheap Trick and the Doors. This edition of Half Tempted did well and executed tightly, and kept folks dancing and rocking at the stagefront for much of the duration.

Another year, and another incarnation of Half Tempted rocks End Of Summer Jam.

Ron Dalansky of Half Tempted.

Again, Ronny D of Half Tempted.

Making his second tour of duty on stage this day, Big Jim Ricotta of Half Tempted.

Once again, Ron Dalansky of Half Tempted.

Once again, Half Tempted.

More Ronny D of Half Tempted.

Again, Big Jim of Half Tempted.

Sitting in for the injured Steve McCaulley, Josh Imler of Half Tempted.

Several ladies cut the rug (lawn) as Half Tempted rocks.

One more time, Ron Dalansky of Half Tempted.

The sun was setting as Northern Cambria power trio Nitekast took the stage. Last year, as you may recall, Nitekast was scheduled to be the last band of the weekend at End Of Summer Jam, but weather conditions had gone downhill and so much of the crowd had left that the show ended early, with Nitekast showing up before they could be notified of the early ending of the event. As a result, they were one of the first bands invited to be a part of this year’s event. Singer/guitarist Brandon Scalese, bassist/singer Josh Oaks and new drummer Josh Sheesley carried the show into the evening with their uptempo mixture of 80’s, 90’s and current rock favorites and originals, starting with REM’s “The One I Love.” The group also did numbers from Judas Priest, Greenday, The Cure, Stone Temple Pilots, Rage Against the Machine, Nirvana and more; and did their own original songs such as “Rise Again,” “Humidity,” and a playful new original, “Poker in the Rear,” which finished the set. Nitekast delivered a strong and confident set, especially considering that drummer Josh had only been with the group a short time.

Josh Oaks and Brandon Scalese of Nitekast.

Brandon Scalese of Nitekast.

Josh Oaks of Nitekast.

Again, Josh Oaks and Brandon Scalese of Nitekast.
The new guy behind Nitekast’s drum kit, Josh Sheesley.

Again, Nitekast.

Once again, Josh Oaks of Nitekast.

One band remained to close out this year’s End Of Summer Jam, Tie Down. After opening with Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band,” guest Jamie “Deathmaster” Smith from Beyond Reason joined in with Tie Down to play bass on John Mellencamp’s “Authority Song” and Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309/Jenny.” Singer Scott Walk, guitarists Brett O’Donnell and Tim Eckenrode, bassist Bob Gailey and drummer Jason Grodis continued to slam the lid on the proceedings with hard-nosed rock’n’roll from the 70’s to present; including tunes from AC/DC, Neil Young, Ace Frehley, Soft Cell, Dead Or Alive, Greenday, Big & Rich and Lynyrd Skynyrd. One surprise was Tie Down’s unveiling of an old Sweet classic, “Little Willy.” The group kept the stage front lawn busy with dancers and people cheering the group on, and at set’s end, those fans demanded more. Tie Down responded with Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” to close out the show.

Closing out this year’s End Of Summer Jam, Tie Down.

Jamie “The Deathmaster” Smith makes a cameo appearance on bass with Tim Eckenrode and Tie Down.

Tim Eckenrode of Tie Down.

Scott Walk of Tie Down.

Scott Walk and Brett O’Donnell of Tie Down.

Again, Scott and Brett of Tie Down.

Brett O’Donnell of Tie Down.

Again, Scott Walk of Tie Down.

Jason Grodis of Tie Down.

Tim Eckenrode and Bob Gailey of Tie Down.

Tie Down, keeping the fans happy.

Graced by beautiful late summer weather, this year’s End Of Summer Jam saw a respectable turnout overall. Attendance still wasn’t up to the numbers this event generated in the 90’s, but given the shorter amount of time to promote it this year, it was still a good crowd, and a good amount of money was raised for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. And it seemed the folks who were here wanted to be here, to support the bands and live music, and enjoy the nice weather and fun in the sun while it lasted. After all, it was nearing the end of summer. The crowd had fun, and they were well-behaved, with no apparent problems the entire day.

The whole day ran smoothly and on schedule, save for a 30-minute late start to resolve sound issues. But the bands all brought their ‘A’ game and had fun, and that fun carried over to the audience. Jamie Shumack did a good job on the sound end, after overcoming a few small technical issues in the early going. It all ran smoothly and easily; thanks to Jamie and all the bands for making my day as stage manager and emcee an easy one!

Organizer Mickey Luckenbaugh said this event will continue on next year, although whether it will return to the Cresson Sportsmen’s Club or find a new home has yet to be determined. Hats off to Mickey for again devoting his energies to this event every year for a good cause, and for fighting the good fight to keep this tradition going. Thanks to everybody who came out and supported the event, it was a very good day!

AGONY HILL @ PELLEGRINE’S, ALTOONA 8/26/07

As if seeing eight bands already this day wasn’t enough, I descended the mountain after End Of Summer Jam ended, and did the vee-line right to Pellegrine’s to see one more band, New York party animals Agony Hill.

I arrived just before the start of Agony Hill’s second set. The group was playing to the beat of a different drummer this night, as former Backstreet Law drummer Ed Hurley was sitting in behind the kit. Ed, singer Eric, guitarist Spam and bassist Joe fired up the party in the second set with their brand of fractured, punk-driven favorites from the 80’s to present; including tunes from 311, Buckcherry, BowWowWow, Van Halen, Pink Floyd, Queen, Nena, White Zombie and more. Although Pelly’s was not packed, a mid-sized contingent of fans was on the dance floor and partying along with Agony Hill.

Agony Hill’s nightcap set started with Bowling for Soup’s “1985,” and continued with tunes from Greenday, the Bugggles, Van Morrison, Tommy Tutone, The Cure, Linkin Park and more. At one point during the set, frontman Eric referenced drummer Ed’s former band, Backstreet Law, triggering the band to fire into a tease of Backstreet Law’s popular “Seatbelt,” which drew cheers from the dance floor crowd.

It was a fun show, as Agony Hill kept the music upbeat, with Eric providing his own crazy antics during and between songs. This band again proved that they like to have fun onstage, and never take themselves too seriously.

Eric Bleiler of Agony Hill addresses the fans.

Fill-in drummer Ed Hurley of Agony Hill.

Joe and Spam of Agony Hill addresses the fans.

Again, Eric of Agony Hill with the fans.

One more time, Eric Bleiler of Agony Hill.

JP’s HAIKU

End Of Summer Jam
Eight bands rocked the wilderness
Fun day in the sun!
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Jim Price
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 Post Posted: Saturday Dec 19, 2009 
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