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Music In The Valley
June 26, 2009 - Jim Price
If hearing the roar of motorcycles is your thing, Johnstown is definitely the place to be this weekend for the 12th annual Thunder In the Valley motorcycle rally, already under way.
If hearing a wide variety of live music is your thing, Johnstown is also a place to be this weekend, as Thunder In The Valley again provides a wide variety of musical entertainment through Sunday.
The headline entertainer for Thunder weekend is Nashville guitar master Johnny Hiland, who performs at the Train Station stage from 7 to 9 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday nights. Legally blind since his childhood in rural Maine, Hiland took up guitar and toured with his family’s band before relocating to Nashville; and got signed by Steve Vai after dropping jaws with appearances with Ricky Skaggs, Toby Keith, Randy Travis and others. Proficient on guitar, banjo, mandolin and fiddle, Hiland can do it all, from Americana and bluegrass to country, blues, rockabilly, surf, and straight-up hard rock. He took the Johnstown area by storm last year with his first appearance at Thunder, and subsequently returned to headline last November’s “Night of Rock, Rhythm & Blues” benefit at Ace’s Lounge for the Johnstown Free Medical Clinic. Citing how “at home” he felt playing in Johnstown, Hiland brings a camera crew to this year’s Thunder In the Valley to record his first live-in-concert DVD.
Fans of the blues will find plenty to celebrate at this year’s Thunder In the Valley as well. Pittsburgh blues/swing guitar great Jimmy Adler and his band entertain twice during Thunder weekend; on Friday afternoon from 2 to 4 p.m., and Saturday evening from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Central Park Gazebo stage. Johnstown’s Blue Piranha, made up of several notable Johnstown area musicians, will entertain with blues and classic rock to warm up Johnny Hiland on the Train Station stage from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Fairmount, West Virginia blues foursome The Dennis McClung Band will bring their brand of traditional electric blues to the Central Park Gazebo stage on Friday night from 9:30 p.m. to midnight. And the Jake and Elwood Blues Revue, a Blues Brothers tribute, returns to Thunder In the Valley to perform twice on Saturday; from 1 to 2 p.m. on the Central Park Gazebo stage, and from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the Train Station stage.
For fans of classic rock, Thunder In the Valley offers Altoona combo Euphoria on Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the Central Park Gazebo stage. The Johnstown Classic Rockers, featuring an all-star roster of Johnstown area musicians, performs Friday night from 9:30 p.m. to midnight on the Train Station stage and Saturday night from 10 p.m. to midnight on the Central Park Gazebo stage. Buddy Dee & the Hitmen and Your Dad’s Friends will provide vintage rock’n’roll sounds Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. respectively on the Central Park Gazebo stage. Buddy Dee returns to that same stage Saturday afternoon from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. And on Sunday, The Boomers bring rock’n’roll to the Central Park Gazebo stage from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Altoona’s British Invasion brings rocking sounds from the U.K. to the Train Station stage from 12 noon to 2:30 p.m., while Johnstown trio The Conniptions closes out entertainment on that stage from 3 to 5 p.m.
Celtic folk and rock sounds are well represented at this year’s Thunder In the Valley as well. Johnstown Celtic folk group Tree performs in the Biker Mall on Friday afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m. The popular Michael O’Brian Band entertains at the Biker Mall on Friday and Saturday nights from 9 to midnight. And Full Kilt brings Irish rock to the Biker Mall Saturday afternoon from 1 to 3:30 p.m., and to the Central Park Gazebo stage Sunday afternoon from 3 to 5 p.m.
For hard rock fans, Johnstown’s Inside Out will light up the Train Station stage Friday afternoon from 2 to 4 p.m. And a Johnstown party band favorite, Yum, marks their tenth anniversary as a band with their Thunder In The Valley performance on Saturday night from 9:30 to midnight on the Train Station stage.
Country is represented on the Thunder stages with Fat Girl Slim on the Train Station stage Saturday from noon to 2 p.m., and with the Randy Clark Band on the Central Park Gazebo stage Saturday evening from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. For roots music fans, the Whiskey River Panhandlers entertain at the Biker Mall on Saturday evening from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
All of these performances are free admission.
For the roar of motorcycle thunder, and for constant musical entertainment this weekend, Johnstown is the place to be.
Johnny Hiland, performing during last November's "Night of Rock, Rhythm & Blues" benefit concert at Ace's Lounge in Johnstown.