Prepare to be wowed

Music aficionado of all genres will find a toe-tapping good time at the second annual Altoona First Frontier Festival July 26-27, as it also grows in duration and locations.

Pittsburgh rock legends The Clarks and the Grammy-winning Steep Canyon Rangers will headline the weekend of entertainment, featuring paid and free shows by eight bands over two days in downtown Altoona.

Altoona First Savings Bank is the title sponsor of the event, which is presented by Altitude Entertainment and the Altoona Mirror.

The paid shows will go off at the Mishler Theatre, where The Clarks will headline Friday, July 26 along with rockabilly guitar great Bill Kirchen, known as the Titan of the Telecaster. On Saturday, July 27 at the Mishler, Steep Canyon Rangers, best known for their 2013 Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album and for touring with Steve Martin, will headline. Sirius Satellite Radio Outlaw Country personality and singer-songwriter Elizabeth Cook will kick off the evening.

“People who come to the Mishler for the headliners are going to be really wowed by Bill Kirchen on Friday and Elizabeth Cook on Saturday,” said Will Jones, Altitude’s promotions and productions manager. “They’re amazing live performers and we think their styles complement the acts they’re paired with really well.”

The festival’s expansion is due to the community’s support in the inaugural launch last year.

“The way our business community and music fans supported this event last year really set the stage to grow this year and feature more national bands,” said Ray Eckenrode, general manager of the Altoona Mirror and Altitude Entertainment. “To bring The Clarks to town for their only summer appearance and to have a Grammy winning act in Steep Canyon Rangers really raises the bar for what this festival can be in terms of satisfying music fans and sparking the local economy.”

The free shows will be held from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, July 27 and features four bands taking the Altoona Mirror Railcar Stage in Heritage Plaza — Stephanie & The Wild Hearts, r2b2, Miss Melanie and the Valley Rats and Jim Donovan & the Sun King Warriors. Also, the Saturday afternoon session features craft beer, refreshments, food trucks and artisan and craft vendors.

“Our Saturday afternoon free shows are really shaping up nicely,” said Candance Holliday, event marketing manager at the Altoona Mirror. “We’ve got four great bands playing on the newly renovated Altoona Mirror Rail Car Stage at Heritage Plaza. We’ve got nine food trucks, including the Primanti’s truck out of Pittsburgh, and more artisan vendors this year than we had at last year’s event. If we get good weather, we feel like it’s going to be just a perfect day.”

Mirror Staff Writer Patt Keith is at 949-7030.