With kids returning to school and football taking over the sports headlines, another summer is nearing its end.
In our area, a number of festivals, concerts and music-related events mark the gradual transition from summer into autumn. One of the first of those events happens this Sunday, August 26, at the Cresson Sportsmen’s Club.
It was in the late summer of 1990 that Cresson-based drummer Mickey Luckenbaugh first organized an informal jam session with several of his musical friends, and dubbed the gathering the “End of Summer Jam.” In the formative years of the event, “End of Summer Jam” bounced around a few locations, including the Portage Railroad National Historic Site, before settling in at the Cresson Sportsmen’s Club, its current home.
At around the time that Mickey organized the first “End of Summer Jam,” he endured some tragedy in his life with the death of his infant son from natural causes. Although it was too late to save his own son, Mickey decided to dedicate the proceeds from “End of Summer Jam” to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, to help assure that other children in the local area would continue to have a facility to save their lives in the event of accident or illness. Thus “End of Summer Jam” became an annual benefit concert, with the proceeds always going to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. The event also adopted a theme to focus on the true meaning of the day: “Kids Come First.”
Over its 17-year history, “End of Summer Jam” has created many memories and developed its own traditions. Besides providing a setting for local live bands and artists to perform, the event has become a homecoming event that brings old friends back together every year. It has become an event where parents can bring their kids to enjoy some fun in the outdoors, in the tranquil setting of the Cresson Sportsmen’s Club. Future newlyweds have met at this event. Family members and relatives have reunited here; three years ago, by chance, I even reunited with a cousin who I hadn’t seen in over a decade. You’ll also hear reminiscences of friends no longer with us who were a part of this event, such as Don Ruzzi, a musician who inspired a number of area musicians to first pick up instruments. All of these factors have combined over the years to make “End of Summer Jam” a special local late-summer tradition, as well as a benefit concert for a good cause.
And of course, there is the music. Many local and regional bands have taken part in “End of Summer Jam” over the years, from young music scene newbies to seasoned veteran acts. Some names that have graced the Cresson Sportsmen’s Club stage at this event over the years have included Stix and Stones, Hair Force One, Bad Daze, Edge Of Sundown, Nevermoure, the U.S. (Hotel) House Band, the Rainbow City Band, the Desperadoes and many more. Often embedded in the rosters of each year’s “End of Summer Jam” are a number of that initial core of musicians that Mickey Luckenbaugh assembled to jam in that late summer of 1990 – names like Felix Kos, whose Hurricanes have performed at every “End of Summer Jam” since year one; Latrobe’s Tony Mollick; and area names such as Ron Novak, Trace Moran, Ron Dalansky, Jeff Renner, and more.
This year’s “End of Summer Jam” line-up features a blend of old and new. Relative newcomers Spirit Lost will kick off the music at high noon. Next is The Red Arrow, a new band featuring a cast of veteran musician names; including Dick Kos, the older brother of the Hurricanes’ Felix. Another relatively new name with a veteran cast, The Verge, will make their “End of Summer Jam” debut; among their members is the aforementioned Jeff Renner. The Tony Mollick Project then journeys in from the west, followed by Felix & the Hurricanes. Another veteran band of “End of Summer Jam,” Half Tempted, then rocks into the early evening, before two relatively new bands, northern Cambria County power trio Nitekast and Cresson-based Tie Down, close out the night by 10 PM.
The donation at the gate is $10; kids under 12 are admitted free. Anybody 16 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Parking is free. Food and refreshments will be provided by the Cresson Sportsmen’s Club.
The Cresson Sportsmen’s Club is located midway between Cresson and Loretto on the Cresson-Loretto Road.