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The 'Manful Handful' Returns!

May 4, 2012 - Jim Price
He shared the stage at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh last year with a musician whose name some readers might recognize…a guy named Jon Bon Jovi. Now, with a recently-expanded edition of his band, “Pittsfield, Pennsyltucky” rock’n’roll icon Norman Nardini returns to central Pennsylvania this Friday night, May 4, performing at Cresson’s Blue Moon Saloon.

“The Manful Handful” will bring the party with his distinct blend of charm, sass, wit, mannerisms, and original variety of rock’n’roll, country, soul and blues sounds. Since the departure of his longtime drummer, singer and Hollidaysburg native Mark “Whitey” Cooper two years ago, Nardini has been working with some different musicians and looks. For Friday’s show, the Pittsburgh legend will be accompanied by longtime bass player and Clearfield County native Harry Bottoms, guitarist Vinny Q, drummer Mike Flocari, and keyboardist and tenor sax player Larry Siefers.

The self-proclaimed “High Priest of the Church of Rock’n’Roll,” Nardini will perform a mixture of his established favorites through the years, along with songs from his first album of new material in 13 years, “Bone A Fide,” which was issued last year. According to remarks Nardini made on a recent edition of Rocky 104.9’s “Homegrown Rocker” program, he was yearning for a more organic, analog feel on his latest album, desiring to bring the “roll” back into the rock.

“We went for that human thing,” commented Nardini. “I like a record that feels like the same guys made it on the same day, and they were all playing together, you know, like of a more artistic thing, like whenever you listened to an old Beatles record or an old Stones record. You kind of got a picture in your mind of all them guys hanging out together, cutting that record in one or two days, and partying while they were doing it.”

Nardini feels that a lot of today’s music lacks the soul and swing of early and classic rock’n’roll, and that the trend toward technological perfection on recordings diminishes much of the human feel of today’s music. He hopes that listeners will experience the heart and soul of rock’n’roll through his recordings and live show; and come away realizing that “…There is hope for the traditional ways and there is hope for traditional rock’n’roll music, that seems to be having a hard time.” Nardini added, “Not many people are making rock’n’roll music anymore. I think I can get people to look toward blending the resources in a similar way that I do, to find that place where there is still roll in the rock. I like the music to be heavy and hard and powerful, but when it says ‘rock’n’roll,’ ‘roll’ to me means swing a little bit, and the younger guys don’t seem to even think about swing when it comes to music. And a lot of them don’t think about the black influences, or the three-quarter time influences, or the country music and those kinds of things. I like the blending of all of that stuff.”

The consummate showman, "Norman Roosevelt Aloysius Nicodemus Amadeus Valentino Giovanni Raphael Nardini" will provide lots of wit and comic relief with his music. Describing his onstage antics, Nardini said, “I’m a goofball.”

The Blue Moon Saloon is located at 709 Front Street in Cresson. The show begins at 9 p.m. Advance tickets are $10; admission at the door is $12.

In other area onstage action this weekend, fans of Johnstown-based heavy metal rockers The Embalmed should take note of Friday night’s hard-rocking double-bill at Aldo’s. Opening the night will be an Embalmed-related side project called 10 Million Devils. The project features Embalmed singer/guitarist Jason Straw, bassist Greg Hatch and Darren Byer; joined by guitarist Kris Stiffey. Headlining the show will be rising local rockers Screamin’ Ugly, which features former members of This Calling, NailDriver and Tie Down.

Local bluegrassers Mama Corn return to Pellegrine’s this Friday night. This will be Mama Corn’s last local nightspot appearance for a while, as they prepare to embark on a busy summer festival and outdoor concert season which includes such events as next month’s Smoked Country Jam Bluegrass Festival near Renovo, and Bethlehem’s prestigious Musikfest in early August.

State College’s Miss Melanie & the Valley Rats return to Altoona this Saturday night, May 5, to entertain at Family Pizza & Pub beginning at 9:30 p.m. Featuring the vibrant and soulful voice of singer/namesake Melanie Morrison, and Queen Bee & the Blue Hornet Band alumni Mark Ross on guitar and Jack Wilkinson on drums, Miss Melanie & the Valley Rats will perform heartfelt blues with touches of soul, swing, Texas sounds and more.

Music fans looking to touch base with their inner rodeo aspirations may head to Glenn’s Place in Claysburg this Saturday night, where they can try their skills with the mechanical bull in the rear room, and nurse their bruises after they get thrown by rocking in the front room with area favorites Flight 19.

And Pellegrine’s will host an all-ages, original rock showcase this Sunday evening, May 6. Placid Promotions is presenting the show, which will feature sets from Lies, Inc., State College-based modern rockers Sylex, Hollidaysburg-based quintet Where The Truth Lies, G.G. & the Assassins and A Day In The Life. The show begins at 4 p.m., and admission will be $5. Pizza and refreshments will be available.

Here is the listing for live music on area stages this weekend:


Flight 19 at 4D’s Lounge, Altoona

Banditos at Hillbilly Roy’s, Altoona (starts 8 p.m.)

Mama Corn at Pellegrine’s, Altoona (starts 9:30 p.m.)

Screamin’ Ugly and 10 Million Devils at Aldo’s, Altoona

The House Band at the Cantina, Altoona

Norman Nardini at Blue Moon Saloon, Cresson (starts 9 p.m.)

Felix & the Hurricanes at the Iron Horse Café, Gallitzin

Jim Zemlock at the Castle Pub, Ebensburg (starts 6 p.m.)

Michael O’Brian Band at City Hotel, Northern Cambria


Miss Melanie & the Valley Rats at Family Pizza & Pub, Altoona

Hair Force One at 30 Something, Altoona

Mysterytrain at Pellegrine’s, Altoona

Giants Of Science at 4D’s Lounge, Altoona

Johnny Danger at Belmar Hotel, Altoona

One Brick Shy at the Eldolyn Terrace, Altoona (starts 9:30 p.m.)

Flight 19 at Glenn’s Place, Claysburg

Sound Of Silence at the Alley Popper, Houtzdale

The Conniptions at Cassandra Firehall, Cassandra (Portage Summerfest Fundraising Dance, starts 8 p.m.)

7th Gear at Yesterday’s Party, Ebensburg

Blu Voodoo at Castle Pub, Ebensburg

Bodacious B at Jay’s Place, Ebensburg

Night Train at City Hotel, Northern Cambria


Craig Paup at Madhatters, St. Boniface (4-7 p.m.)


Lies Inc., Sylex, G.G. & the Assassins, Where The Truth Lies and A Day in the Life at Pellegrine’s, Altoona (all ages, starts 4:30 p.m.)

Felix & the Hurricanes at Shaw’s Bar, Altoona


Felix & the Hurricanes at Blue Moon Saloon, Cresson (starts 8 p.m.)

(More shows may be added to this list as information becomes available. Feel free to check back.)

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Norman Nardini, performing during the 2008 Bedford Fall Foliage Festival. The Pittsburgh rock'n'roll icon will perform at the Blue Moon Saloon in Cresson this Friday night.


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