Johnstown Concert Series

Johnstown Concert Series will present "Bringing Back Your Music" from 5 to 10 p.m. Aug. 21 at Peoples Natural Gas Park in downtown Johnstown. Featured musicians are (left to right) the Johnstown Dixieland Jazz Band, the Altoona Brass Collective and accordionist Kevin Solecki.

If you have been missing live music, this concert is sure to please.

Johnstown Concert Series will present its “Bringing Back Your Music” event from 5 to 10 p.m. Aug. 21 at Peoples Natural Gas Park, 90 Johns St., downtown Johnstown.

There will be no admission charge, but donations will be accepted to benefit the Cambria County Backpack Project.

The concert will feature accordionist Kevin Solecki, the Altoona Brass Collective and the Johnstown Dixieland Jazz Band.

“We had a horrible year, and we had to cancel so much, so the board wanted to give something joyful and upbeat back to the community as a way to say thank you for their support over the years,” said Heather Brice, a board member with Johns-town Concert Series.

“We saw so many people using food banks this year and struggle with food, so we thought this might also be a good way to support the Cambria County Backpack Project.”

Solecki, a Pittsburgh-based, Grammy-nominated accordionist, will stroll through the audience, playing throughout the evening.

“He comes very highly recommended and is well-known in the Pittsburgh area,” said Bill Brice, a board member with Johnstown Concert Series.

“He starts us off and he’ll fill in while we’re changing from one group to another.”

Solecki will perform a variety of music.

“He does everything from polkas to his interpretations of classical pieces,” Bill Brice said.

“He’s an all-around musician.”

The Altoona Brass Collective was formed in 2017 by musicians from central Pennsylvania who share a love of brass instruments and the quality music those instruments can bring to the world, according to the band’s website.

Members of the group have strong ties to the area and are professionals, serving as music educators in several school districts.

The various musical arrangements are especially written for the group.

Their repertoire for the concert will include “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “Olympic Fanfare and Theme,” “American Salute,” “Hands Across the Sea,” “Holy, Holy, Holy,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Irish Brass Potpourri,” “Copacabana,” “Billy Joel: The Definitive Brass Revue,” “Americans We” and “The Pennsylvania Polka.”

“We featured them before, and they were a great hit with the audience, so we wanted to bring them back,” Bill Brice said.

“With this concert being outdoors, we thought, ‘what could be better than having a group of brass players you can really hear?’ They will blow you away with this joyful sound.”

The Johnstown Dixieland Jazz Band recreates the authentic sounds of early jazz music from New Orleans and the Roaring ’20s Jazz Age.

Made up of musicians from western Pennsylvania who regularly perform with Jazz in Your Face, the band includes Josh Hillard and Kevin Eisensmith on trumpet; Bob Scholl and Dale Hertrick on clarinet; Bob Scholl and Dale Hertrick on trombone; and Matt Brown, along with a rhythm section including John Pencola on piano, Jerry Berry on bass, and Michael Bodolosky on drums.

Featured will be the music of Louis Armstrong, “Jelly Roll” Morton, W.C. Handy, Irving Berlin and George Gershwin.

Popular selections include “Dixieland One Step,” “Royal Garden Blues,” “Midnight in Moscow,” “Basin Street Blues” and “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

“This is an ensemble that came out of the Jazz in Your Face group, and it’s the first time we’ll be having them play for us,” Bill Brice said.

Speal’s on Wheels will serve wraps, and Pappy D’s will have barbecue selections.

Volunteers with the Cambria County Backpack Project will sell baked goods along with decorating tables in the Oil House.

Johnstown Area Heritage Association will provide a cash bar.

“We hope people will come out and have a nice, relaxing time in an outdoor setting and support the Cambria County Backpack Project,” Heather Brice said.

Kristen Villarrial, director of the Cambria County Backpack Project, said it’s an honor to be chosen as the recipient of concert donations.

“We know that the Johnstown Concert Series has always been dedicated to the community, and we are anticipating a larger need than ever this year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

“We could really use all the extra donations we can get, and this is just a wonderful way to treat the community to great music and be chosen for this benefit concert.”

The Cambria County Backpack Project, which is a partnership fund of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, provides food to children at risk of going hungry on weekends when they have no access to school-based meals.

“Each bag has six meals in it ready to go, and they are distributed at each partner school,” Villarrial said.

“At The Learning Lamp, we have a food pantry with the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank, so that is how we are able to get our food and then get it distributed to the schools.”

For more information on the Cambria County Backpack Project or to donate, visit its Facebook page at briaCountyBackpackProject.

Bill Brice said plans are being finalized for the upcoming Johns-town Concert Series season that will be held at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Johnstown.

“We’ve set up six full concerts,” he said.

“We’re hopeful we’ll be able to do it, and we’ll be opening Sept. 18 with a John Pencola appreciation night. John is a local jazz musician who has been around for years, and we thought it would be a nice thing to do to bring in a lot of his friends and show our appreciation for all that he has done for the music scene in Johnstown.”

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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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