Walt & Jackie

Walt & Jackie will present their Hometown Holidays show Nov. 24 at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center.

The Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center is bringing in the entertainment for November.

The arts center, located on the Pitt-Johnstown campus in Richland Township, will offer two performances that will celebrate American folk music and help people get into the holiday spirit.

At 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13, John McEuen & The String Wizards: Will the Circle Be Unbroken will be presented.

McEuen has been a professional performer since 1962 with a long and varied career – first as a solo artist, then as a founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

He showcases his guitar, banjo, fiddle and mandolin talents by performing popular Nitty Gritty Dirt Band songs and telling the stories behind them in a manner that earned him the Best in the West Award from the Folk Alliance Organization.

McEuen’s 1972 classic “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” album was inducted into the Library of Congress as “one of America’s most important recordings.”

In 2016, he released his most recent album “Made in Brooklyn,” which received an Independent Music Award for Best Americana Album.

McEuen was inducted into the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame in 2017.

In 2018, he published his autobiography, “The Life I’ve Picked: A Banjo Player’s Nitty Gritty Journey.”

The group is comprised of McEuen; Les Thompson, an original Nitty Gritty Dirt Band member, on bass and vocals; Matt Cartsonis on guitar, mandola and vocals; and John Cable, a previous Nitty Gritty Dirt Band member, on guitar and vocals.

McEuen said he’s been doing the show for the past year and a half.

“I saw a good opportunity to do a show based partly on the ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken’ album,” he said. “I started editing and putting together pictures that told the story. Along with that, it’s telling the story of the early Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.”

For part of the show, a screen behind the band will show pictures from previous engagements that will match with the music being performed on stage.

“We do music from the new album, and it’s just a combination of music from the old days, the middle days and the new days,” McEuen said. “It takes people back and forward, and it’s really exciting to do and it’s quite compelling.”

McEuen last performed in Johnstown in 2017 at the AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival.

“I remember that show and it was a lot of fun, so we’re looking forward to coming back because it’s a good place,” he said. 

Tickets are $42 for premium and $37 for regular.

Walt & Jackie, featuring singers/songwriters Walt Churchey and Jackie Kopco, will bring their Hometown Holidays show, presented by Em’s Subs, to the arts center at 3 p.m. Nov. 24.

The concert will feature an entertaining afternoon of classic holiday and originals songs.

“We’re tying to make this show a little more inclusive with the holidays since it’s just before Thanksgiving, so we’ll hit them hard at the end with Christmas music to really get them into the Christmas spirit,” Kopco said. “The first set we’re going to do more Thanksgiving music and general winter songs. We found some really great music that I think people will really connect with because they are heart-warming songs.”

People can expect to hear “It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way” by Jim Croce, “Light One Candle” by Peter, Paul and Mary, “Snowbird” by Anne Murray and “Same Old Lang Syne” by Dan Fogelberg, along with “Mary, Did You Know?” “Tennessee Christmas” and original songs from the duo’s Christmas album “Take Time.”

“It’s a broad range of music and we try to keep the tempo flowing,” Kopco said.

Special guests will include Denise Baldwin on rhythm guitar and background vocals, Sam Coco on drums and ukulele and Jim Churchey on bass.

Santa Claus also is scheduled to make an appearance and will be handing out treats and taking photos.

“Everything we do is family-friendly and a great show for people of all ages,” Kopco said. 

“We want it to be all-inclusive and loving because that’s what we think the holidays are all about.”

She added that their aim at their shows is to capture an emotion.

“We just want people to feel good and have a couple hours to come in from the cold and be in a warm, loving environment where they can let go of their troubles and let the music sweep them away,” Kopco said.

Walt & Jackie performed their holiday show last season at the PPAC to a large crowd.

“It’s so different from any place else that we play. We still can’t believe that we get to do a theater show that’s our show,” Kopco said. “We’re always pleased with the crowds. We hear from people that our show put them in the Christmas spirit and that’s awesome.”

Tickets are $20.

To order tickets for the shows, call 814-269-7200 or visit www.upjarts.org.

Kelly Urban is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5073. Follow her on Twitter @KellyUrban25.

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