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Arts Festival Weekend!

May 18, 2012 - Jim Price
With this weekend’s weather forecast calling for sunshine and daytime temperatures in the 70s, this should be the ideal weekend for taking in the 45th annual Blair County Arts Festival at Penn State Altoona. And along with the wide variety of arts, crafts, vendors and children’s activities, festival weekend will be filled with live music.

The live music slate at this year’s Festival features a wide and intriguing variety of performers. The Food Court Stage near Juniata Gap Road will feature electric bands and performers, the Misciagna Building Portico will host acoustic and solo acts, and the Laurel Performance Pavilion will present performance groups from area schools.

Saturday’s Food Court Stage entertainment kicks off at 1 p.m. with perennial Festival favorites Your Dad’s Friends, taking the audience down memory lane with their variety of ‘60s and ‘70s era rock’n’roll hits. Kanit then shows how musical trashcans can be starting at 2:30, as they tap, bang and crash out rudiments and drills using trashcans, trashcan lids, ladders and more. Fresh from playing last weekend’s Pints for Pets Brewfest, Chris Vipond & the Stanley Street Band will work up the rock, funk and jams beginning at 4; showcasing older and new original songs, and interpreting a few popular favorites in their own distinct style. R2B2 continues the party at 5:30 with their crisp mixture of dance-friendly rock, funk, country and more. And Full Kilt caps the evening starting at 7 with Celtic-flavored rock and folk; and if somebody yells it loudly enough, they’ll even break out their unique Celtic rock-flavored take on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird!”

Meanwhile, Saturday’s Misciagna Portico slate starts off with the Blair Concert Chorale Children’s Choir at 12:30 p.m., followed by acoustic Celtic and folk-geared sounds with Johnstown’s Tree at 2:30. Aaronsburg-based jazz trombonist Jay Vonada will entertain with sounds ranging from swing to bossa nova starting at 3:30. Festival folk favorite Jerry Haines returns to share his brand of folk and Americana sounds starting at 4:45; Jerry blends various types of stringed instrumentation from guitars to dulcimers, mixed with a friendly delivery and lighthearted approach to music and life. And another Festival folk favorite, Jay Smar, caps the Portico entertainment starting at 6:30 with his blend of acoustic folk and blues.

Jazz takes the spotlight for Saturday’s scholastic showcases under the Laurel Performance Pavilion. The Altoona Area School District Elementary Jazz Ensemble kicks it off at 12:15 p.m., followed by the Altoona Area Junior High School Varsity Jazz Band at 1:45, the combined Altoona Area Junior High School Varsity Jazz Band and Vocal Ensemble at 3:15, and the Altoona Area High School Advanced Jazz Ensemble at 4:45. Then at 6:15, the winner of the 2009 Arts Festival Pop Songwriting Contest, Justin Cain, will perform a set of his compositions.

The music resumes Sunday at 12 noon with more scholastic groups under the Laurel Performance Pavilion, starting with the Altoona Area Junior High School Chamber Orchestra. The Tyrone Area High School Pops Extension takes the stage at 1:30, followed by musicians from Frankstown Elementary School at 3:00. The Hollidaysburg Area High School String Ensemble will then rock their strings beginning at 4:30.

On the Misciagna Portico, Tree resumes the music with their Irish-flavored merriment starting at 12:15 p.m. Altoona pop/rock artist Nick Finochio shares his thoughtful, melody-geared sounds beginning at 1:45. The Hollidaysburg Area Junior High School Guitar Ensemble entertains starting at 3:00, before Altoona native Brennon John – whose resume includes time in Nashville – shares his brand of acoustic folk, country blues and Americana starting at 4:15.

Sunday’s Food Court Stage entertainment starts at 12:45 with the Altoona Horseshoe Chorus. Festival goers can then take a journey on the “Party Plane” as area favorites Flight 19 present their spirited mix of modern and classic rock favorites starting at 2:30. Pittsburgh’s J.D. Eicher & the Goodnights return to share their melody-driven brand of rock and funk starting at 3:45, before the U.S. Sound Theatre caps the Festival with their annual reunion to get the brass out and rock the horns starting at 5:15.

Also watch for strolling musical entertainment Sunday afternoon, as Jay Smar will stroll and perform from noon to 3 p.m., and the Holliday Harmonizers will blend their voices around the Penn State Altoona environs between 2:15 and 5:15 p.m.

The Arts Festival provides an opportunity for children to indulge their budding musical interests, as members of the Altoona Symphony Orchestra will host an instrument “petting zoo” where kids can sample various musical instruments. This will take place under the Imagination Music Station Tent in the Sheetz Children’s Village.

Admission to the Blair County Arts Festival is free both days. There is a $4 parking fee per car; with parking proceeds helping to fund the festival.

Elsewhere this weekend, a special benefit to help a young area heart transplant patient will take place Saturday evening at the Railroaders Museum. “Rock Dalton’s Beat” will run from 7 to 10 p.m., and will raise funds for the family of Dalton Igou, a 9th grade student at Altoona Area Junior High School who is in need of a heart transplant. Tickets are $25 per adult and $10 for students; which includes food, refreshments and live music from Inside Out, a group featuring former members of local classic rockers Kyx.

If you’re looking to check out a new band this weekend, Somerset County-based foursome Private I makes their first Altoona appearance this Friday night, May 18 at Pellegrine’s. Featuring singer/guitarist Nicholas Hoffman, bassist Ryan Hoffman, lead guitarist Brandle Cole and drummer Skott Rosage; Private I brings a mix of ska, punk, reggae and alternative rock to Pellegrine’s stage starting at 10 p.m.

And if you want to get your dance on, Pittsburgh party favorites Radio Tokyo bring their energized show back to the stage of the Four Dees Lounge this Saturday night, May 19. Since first arriving on the Dees’ stage late last year, Radio Tokyo’s fast-firing, nonstop music party has rapidly grown a local following, and should quickly pack the dance floor once again starting at 10:30. Catch this band while you can, as they will be in high demand at festivals and beach venues throughout the Northeast during the summer months.

Those are a few of this weekend’s expected highlights. Here is a full listing for live music on area stages this weekend and the coming week:


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

Private I at Pellegrine’s, Altoona (starts 9:30 p.m.)

Slacker Theory at 4D's Lounge, Altoona

Rain Must Fall and Lies, Inc. at Aldo’s, Altoona

The Hawks Blues Band at Rubine’s, Altoona

Ryan Chandler & Friends at “Friday Night Music” at Bedford Arts Center, Bedford (starts 7 p.m.)

Bad Daze at Osceola Hotel, Osceola Mills

Dakota Rose at Blue Moon Saloon, Cresson

Locked and Loaded at Yesterday’s Party, Ebensburg

Forever On Holiday at City Hotel, Northern Cambria

Jack and the Country Gentlemen at Thirsty Dawg Taverne, Patton (starts 9 p.m.)

The Backyard Rockers at Detwiler Field, Huntingdon (Relay for Life, starts 7 p.m.)

Hannah Bingman & Doug McMinn at Boxer’s Café, Huntingdon


Blair County Arts Festival at Penn State Altoona, featuring Your Dad’s Friends, Kanit, Chris Vipond & the Stanley Street Band, R2B2, Full Kilt, Tree, Jay Vonada, Jerry Haines, Jay Smar, Justin Cain and more (festival starts 12 noon)


Inside Out (featuring former Kyx members) at Railroader’s Museum, Altoona (“Rock Dalton’s Beat” benefit for Dalton Igou, starts 7 p.m.)

Artifact at Fat Daddy’s, Altoona (starts 8 p.m.)

The Syrins at Family Pizza & Pub, Altoona

Up Your Arsenal at Aldo’s, Altoona

Ambush at Shaw’s Bar, Altoona

D.D. & the Pub Crawlers at Pellegrine’s, Altoona

Radio Tokyo at 4D’s Lounge, Altoona

The Conniptions at Heidelberg Club, Altoona

The House Band at Molly Maguire’s, Altoona

The Backyard Rockers at the Eldolyn Terrace, Altoona (starts 9:30 p.m.)

Empire, Atlas Soundtrack and Sylex at Club Squared, Philipsburg (all ages, starts 8 p.m.)

Hair Force One at Glenn’s Place, Claysburg

Locked and Loaded at Mugshotz, Gallitzin

Sunset Strip at Magoo’s, Cresson

Rick Ramsey at Madhatters, St. Boniface

Octane at Yesterday’s Party, Ebensburg

Acoustic Stew at Jay’s Place, Ebensburg


Blair County Arts Festival at Penn State Altoona, featuring Flight 19, J.D. Eicher & the Goodnights, U.S. Sound Theatre reunion, Tree, Nick Finochio, Brennan John and more (starts 12 noon)

Drum Circle Get Together at Heartspace Wellness, Altoona (starts 2 p.m.)

Acoustic Stew at Madhatters, St. Boniface (4-7 p.m.)


Felix & the Hurricanes at Shaw’s Bar, Altoona


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


Raggedy Hobo at Pellegrine’s, Altoona


Open Mic/Jam Night at Eldolyn Terrace, Altoona (starts 6 p.m.)

Open Mic/Jam Night at Pellegrine’s, Altoona (starts 9 p.m.)

Mountain City Grass at Blue Moon Saloon, Cresson (starts 8 p.m.)

Open Mic/Jam Night at City Hotel, Northern Cambria (starts 9 p.m.)

Bodacious B at 4D's Lounge (upstairs), Altoona


AnEmergencyScene presents Daylight, The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, Light Hearted, Eyes Wide, Nothing to Prove, Greylines, Godfrey Lane at Fort Apache (Juniata VFW), Altoona (all ages, starts 5 p.m.)

Dan Myers II at Blue Moon Saloon, Cresson (starts 8 p.m.)

Jam Night at Sankertown VFW, Sankertown (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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Blog Photos

Chris Vipond, during his band's performance at the 2010 Blair County Arts Festival. Chris and his Stanley Street Band return to the Arts Festival this Saturday afternoon.


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