RailTowne to play Frontier Festival

Courtesy photo RailTowne members from left are: Paul Rainey, Youngstown, Ohio; Kenny Murdick, Indiana; Eric Wertz, Hollidaysburg; Nate Beatty, Altoona; Zac Grace, Altoona, and Ty Ayers, Bellwood.Local country band Railtowne will perform at The Altoona First Frontier Festival at the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum on July 28.

Attendees to the Altoona First Frontier Festival will indulge in a “visual and audio feast,” said Eric Wertz, of the local country band RailTowne.

The first annual festival will bring artisans, food trucks, refreshments and great Americana music to Altoona Pa.’s Railroaders Memorial Museum on July 28.

The title sponsor is Altoona First Savings Bank. General admission tickets are $22 before July 4 and then $25. VIP tickets cost $50 and are selling well, said Candy Holliday, event marketing director for the Altoona Mirror.

“VIP ticketholders receive several perks including priority seating and a T-shirt.”

“We’ve added to our lineup and our band really has some insanely talented musicians. Country music is so wide-open these days and we’ve added musicians to create a thicker, multi-layered sound,” he said. “We also bring a good, entertaining stage show with professional lighting and production. We want to put on a killer live show like Garth Brooks.”

Wertz said the band members have all known one-another for years, but started playing together about a year ago and the First Frontier festival is the first time the public will see its new lineup. Wertz of Hollidaysburg moved from drums to guitar; co-founder Kenny Murdick of Indiana plays rhythm guitar and back-up vocals; bass guitarist Paul Rainey, originally from Houtzdale and who now hails from Youngstown, Ohio; Ty Ayers of Bellwood handles lead vocals and acoustic guitar; and Altoonans Nathan Beatty on keyboards and Zac Grace on drums.

“When you play modern country today, you need a larger band to handle the various layers played in the recording studio,” Wertz said. “We draw upon a variety of influences and tend toward the heavier side of country, but you’ll know it’s still country music.”

The audience can expect a mix of country standards from Florida Georgia Line, Eric Church, Jason Aldeen and others. Rather than go into a concert with a set list, Wertz said the band customizes its shows to fit the audience.

“We’re in the moment with our decision-making process. We talk to the audience between sets — they are part of the show. So we see what’s working and go on the fly.”

Area music lovers are patronizing live performances with a renewed appetite after a computer-device-induced hiatus.

“More younger people are coming out than 10-12-years ago. The appetite for live music is there now,” he said.

And RailTowne’s lineup delivers as its members are seasoned performers who have been on national stages with other groups and their tours. While RailTowne covers other bands’ songs, they also are adding some original material contributed by Wertz and Grace, who had a three-year contract writing songs in Nashville.

“People who are not 100 percent into country can still have a very enjoyable time,” Wertz said.

If you go

What: The Altoona First Frontier Festival featuring artisans, food trucks, refreshments and great Americana music to Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum.

When: Saturday, July 28.

Admission: General admission tickets are $22 now and$25 after July 4. VIP tickets, which include private bathrooms, lounges, priority seating and a concert T-shirt, are $50 and available in advance only.

Details: No glass, bottles, cans or outside food. No coolers. Carry along lawn chairs permitted outdoors only. Must show valid ID to purchase alcohol. This is a RAIN OR SHINE event.

Tickets: Online: firstfrontier .brownpapertickets.com

By phone: 1-800-838-3006

In person: Altoona Mirror offices, 301 Cayuga Ave.