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Before the Big Game...

January 29, 2009 - Jim Price
It’s pretty obvious where just about everyone’s attention will be focused this weekend, especially given that we’re in Steeler country.  And I already have picked out whose wide-screen television I will be viewing Super Bowl 43 on this Sunday evening. 

But before the big game, there are a few noteworthy live music happenings in the neighborhood to help you bide the time before Sunday night’s gridiron fireworks.

This Friday night, two rising new local band names will be gracing Altoona area stages, while the transformed lineup of an established local band will grace a third.

For fans of jam-styled, improvisational music, Mysterytrain takes the stage at 30 Something in Greenwood on Friday.  Formed last year by guitarist and lead singer Dan Klock, Mysterytrain merges elements of rock, folk, country, blues, funk, Americana and worldbeat sounds into constant, freewheeling grooves.  Six members strong, Mysterytrain performs all their own song material, constructing improvisational jams that often stretch into full-blown musical adventures.  They also frequently use transitional passages to connect their songs together for continuous nonstop music from start to finish.

Another rising new local band name, My Friend Frankie, will fire up the party Friday night at Altoona’s 4D’s Lounge.  Formed last fall as an all-male trio, My Friend Frankie has since become a female-fronted group with Candi replacing original singer and bassist Scott Barkhimer.  Mike Fox plays guitar and sings, and former Bad Daze/Choco Sam drummer Eric Wertz provides the beats behind the kit.  Named in honor of a Cambria County venue owner, My Friend Frankie performs music to fire up the dance floor; including female-fronted hits from Joan Jett, Jill Sobule, Lita Ford, Divinyls and others; plus other current and classic rock hits from Blink 182, The Ataris, Beastie Boys, The Outfield, Lynyrd Skynyrd and more.

The updated edition of Altoona’s Silver Sunday will be in town this Friday night, making their return to Aldo’s.  Original lead singer Cathie Stultz and bassist Mike Stanley both departed the group last fall; replacing them are the former singer and bass player from the now extinct Splink, Ashley Bee and London Joe respectively.  Ashley and Joe, plus remaining founding members Todd Harshbarger on drums and Buck Dickson on guitar and vocals, will fire up the party with their blend of female-fronted alternative, 80’s hits, and the occasional unexpected twist.  For those who haven’t witnessed her before, Ashley displays a potent voice with good strength and range; and she’ll flex that voice on hits by No Doubt, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Blondie, Pat Benatar, Katrina & the Waves and more.  The unexpected twists are provided by Buck, who fronts the group with his brassy voice on such fare as REO Speedwagon’s “Take It On the Run,” Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time” and more.

Saturday night also features some new band names worth checking out on local stages.  Aldo’s will host a double-bill, featuring Locked Inside and the Rik Golden Band.  Formed in late 2007, Locked Inside will offer bristling, high-octane punk rock original songs that blend velocity and melody.  The group features former Ten Sent Wings member Grant Matthews on lead vocals and guitar, Mike Lanzendorfer on guitar, Matt Meguess on bass and vocals, and Mike Masone on drums.  The Rik Golden Band is fronted by Rik Golden, former guitarist and singer for the Keystone All Stars and The Marauders.  Flanking Golden are Rick Ramsey on guitar and vocals, Jason Pinto on bass and Todd Harshbarger (of Silver Sunday fame) on drums.  The group performs guitar rock that tips the hat to the more rebellious side of The Clash, Rolling Stones, Social Distortion, Rancid and more.

For fans of ‘80s-era hair band and arena rock, Cambria County’s Sunset Strip makes their first Altoona appearance this Saturday night at 30 Something.  Formed last year, Sunset Strip features former Torn Black/Force Of Habit/Montage singer Scott Mulligan, along with former Inside Out/NE-146 guitarist James Forish, Frank Rodes on bass, and one-time Hair Force One drummer Jared Michaels.  If you miss Hair Force One since they stepped aside last year, Sunset Strip will provide their own edition of “Headbangers Ball,” with ‘80s-era rock and metal from Motley Crue, Ratt, Poison, Guns N’Roses, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Def Leppard and more.

Longtime regional party band favorite Green Eggs will also be in town this Saturday night, firing up the dance floor festivities at the 4D’s Lounge.  Logging over a dozen years of good times on stages throughout the Northeast, the Green Eggs roster of singer/keyboardist Brian Nicarry, singer/bassist Brad Nicarry, drummer Doug Black and Clearfield’s Matt Day on guitar and vocals will again generate nonstop dance-rock grooves.  Their song repertoire can mix in anything and everything, from the latest rock hits to old Jackson 5 and Abba classics, country, rap/hip-hop hits, 80’s rock medleys and more; all often fused together into lively nonstop soundtracks that will keep the dance floor packed from start to end.

If you have any energy left after the big game on Sunday (and provided your favorite team wins so you’re in the mood to have more fun), two bands will provide after-parties to close out Super Bowl weekend.

Provided the Steelers win, Candlelight Red will keep the party going at Pellegrine’s.  (If the Steelers don’t win, they’ll have the monumental task of overcoming crushed spirits.)  Formed last year, the current edition of Candlelight Red features former members of Til December, Stept On and In.  Singer Greg Locke, guitarist Jeremy Edge, bassist Adam Zimmer and drummer Josh Hetrick will rock Pellegrine’s stage with abundant modern, ‘70s and ‘80s rock favorites.  The group may also perform some original songs from their soon-to-be-released EP, as well as a song or two from Edge’s former band, Til December.

Also performing musical mop-up duty following the big game will be Felix & the Hurricanes, with their weekly Sunday night blues-rock shindig at Shaw’s Bar in Juniata.  Bassist Pat McGinnis fills in for Jeff Clapper in the Hurricanes’ Sunday night roster; and he brings his own unique Americana flavor to the group’s repertoire, as he fronts the group on songs by The Band, Delbert McClinton and more.  But Hurricanes fans will also hear many of the group’s original song favorites, and southern and classic rock standards from the Allman Brothers, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Neil Young, the Eagles and others.

So besides being Super Bowl weekend, it is also a super weekend for live music in the Altoona area.  So pick a show or two, and show your support for live bands to help assure that live music can continue to prosper in our part of the world.

And since it's the fashionable thing to do, here is my two cents' worth on the game:  Pittsburgh 24, Arizona 20.

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Blog Photos

Mysterytrain, during a December show at 30 Something.


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