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This Spud's For You!

September 28, 2007 - Jim Price
Now that we have turned the corner into autumn, the fall festivals are upon us.  And in Ebensburg, it’s Potatofest time!


Obviously, the spud is in the spotlight in downtown Ebensburg this Saturday, Sept. 29.  While you’re enjoying your favorite mode of spud edibles, from potato soup to potato pizza to fries to stuffed potatoes to any other number of spud-based foodstuffs, feel free to take in the wide variety of quality musical entertainment being offered up at this year’s Potatofest. 


The music kicks off early, with three different acts beginning at 10 AM.  In the main tent, entertainment will alternate between ventriloquist Helen Hammet (for the kids) and her associate, Saegertown-based singer, songwriter and guitarist Kenton Kovich.  Kovich performs traditional-styled original acoustic folk; crafting literary, often poetic lyrics that paint portraits and landscapes.  His presentation is calm and pleasant, and he offers insight on his music and visions in between songs.  If you’re a fan of thoughtful, picturesque lyrics and delicate songcraft, Kenton Kovich is worth checking out.


Also starting at 10 AM in the Memorial Tent is Northern Cambria-based acoustic trio Jerry’s Fault.  Jerry Carnevali and Denny Pompa on guitars, and Ken Pompa on acoustic bass perform a variety of rock’n’roll and country favorites spanning the 60’s to present.  Jerry’s Fault’s continual highlight is harmonies; you’ll hear plenty of crisp two- and three-part vocal harmonizing throughout their performance. 


And if you like rock’n’roll of an earlier vein, The Sharptones also kick off at 10 AM under the High Street Tent.  An acoustic duo, The Sharptones perform music of the 50’s and 60’s.  Following the Sharptones at 11 AM is singer and guitarist Kenny Biter, performing a selection of acoustic country favorites.


Performing from noon to 2 PM under the Memorial Park tent is Rosie & the Jammers.  Comprised of namesake Rosie Sida on keys, Jim Mosey on guitar and lead vocals, and Brian Anater on saxophone; Rosie & the Jammers entertain with a variety spanning early rock’n’roll, country, polka favorites and standards.  A long-time performer on area stages and one-time Elvis impersonator, Jim still has the voice; experience his excellent power and range when he does classics such as the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody.”


For fans of classic horn rock, Johnstown’s Flood City Brass starts their performance at the Main Tent at 1 PM.  Eight members strong including a four-piece horn section, Flood City Brass celebrates that period of rock’n’roll from the late 60’s and early 70’s when brass-driven bands like Chicago and Blood Sweat & Tears ruled the charts.  You’ll hear plenty of classics from those bands, along with a variety of classic rock, blues, soul, swing and even polka.  Singer Tom Pavic is an exciting performer with an excellent voice, and listen for guitarist/trombonist Jim Bilitski to deliver his best Satchmo growl on a rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.”


Two performances commence at 2:30.  Flood City Brass saxophone player Jen Shuty will do double duty this day, moving to the High Street Tent to perform with her other group Spoonchatter.  This band offers something different, a sound driven by sax and keyboard, without a guitar presence.  Jen on sax, lead singer/keyboardist Dustin Rainey, bassist Adam Wolf and drummer Jason Olear blend rock, pop and jazz styles, on various favorites and their own original songs.  Fans of classic Elton John and Billy Joel, as well as more recent keyboard-powered bands like Ben Folds Five, should find Spoonchatter’s style and slant an interesting and entertaining change of pace.


Also at 2:30, one of the highlights of last year’s Potatofest, hometown Ebensburg-based band Echoes.  A family-based band featuring Marianne Kokus singing lead vocals, Mike Kokus on keys, Nick Kokus on guitar and trumpet, Jeremy Colbert on bass, Seth Reighard on drums, and Ryan Skiles on keys and percussion; Echoes performs an uplifting variety of rock’n’roll hits from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.    


For fans of Irish, Celtic and folk sounds, Tree from Johnstown closes out the musical slate at the Main Tent starting at 3 PM. 


So savor the potatoes, and catch the wide variety of music offered up at this year’s Potatofest.  Unlike the past few years, the weather forecast for this year’s Potatofest looks to be great; and who knows – perhaps like last year, Governor Ed Rendell might even pop in for a visit!

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Kenton Kovich, performing at last year's Potatofest.


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