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Live Music and All That Jazz...
May 25, 2012 - Jim Price
For this area’s jazz music fans, opportunities to see live jazz on local stages have mostly been few and far between, and mostly relegated to festivals and other occasional events. But one area venue is working to change that.
Since opening in late December, Cresson’s Blue Moon Saloon has concentrated its efforts toward providing a stage for types of music outside the perceived mainstream tastes. So far, blues, jazz, funk, folk, R&B, reggae and bluegrass artists have been featured on the Blue Moon’s stage. Owner Steve Heiser has concentrated his efforts into creating a special venue where the emphasis is on live music, and providing the stage for musical forms that tend to be ignored on other area venue stages.
Jazz has been a rising commodity on the Blue Moon’s musical menu, and several groups from the Johnstown area have led the charge. The Groove Gathering, currently nine members strong, incorporates jazz prominently into its freewheeling and improvisational repertoire; mixing selections from Jaco Pastorius and Herbie Hancock among original material, soul, blues, selections from Frank Zappa and more. Their first two forays onto the Blue Moon Saloon’s stage have met with large and enthusiastic audiences, and they will return to the venue in the near future.
That group’s ringleader, Johnstown-based bass player Scott Jeffreys, brings a more traditional jazz flavor to the Blue Moon’s stage every Wednesday evening, courtesy of his Scott Jeffreys Triad. Accompanied by Josh Ben on keys and Derek Edwards on drums, Jeffreys entertains with a broad mix of jazz material from such notable names as Miles Davis, Billy Cobham, Charles Mingus, Thelonius Monk, Herbie Hancock, Dave Brubeck and much more. The trio format enables all three musicians to creatively play off one another, providing constant instrumental excitement and a fun presentation.
And this Friday night, another Johnstown-based jazz ensemble, Candle in the Wind, returns to the Blue Moon’s stage starting at 9 p.m. First formed in 1990, the core lineup of Candle in the Wind has played together since 1999, entertaining at jazz festivals, corporate events and more. The current edition of the group includes Ron Black on vocals and drums, Rich Kingera on keys, Tim Baacke on bass, Bill Hines on guitar, and Greg Maiocco on woodwinds and saxophone. Candle in the Wind presents a variety of smooth-sounding jazz and jazz-related sounds; including numbers from Dave Brubeck, Duke Wellington, Cannonball Adderley, Herbie Hancock, George Gershwin, Hoagy Carmichael, Van Morrison, Bill Withers, Al Jarreau and more. And although their brand of jazz is calmer and more traditional in tone, the five members demonstrate excellent skills and a lot of enthusiasm, elevating their jazz into total musical excitement.
According to Heiser, the Blue Moon is committed to continuing to build a scene for jazz and other traditional forms of American music. And as support continues to build for these performers, more opportunities for such shows will become possible.
Memorial Day weekend presents a variety of live music options for your enjoyment. And since the big holiday is Monday, that means a loaded slate of live music on Sunday evening as well. Here is a full listing for live music on area stages this weekend and the coming week:
Mysterytrain and Laid Back Lenny at Pellegrine’s, Altoona (starts 9:30 p.m.)
Nobody’s Heroes at Aldo’s, Altoona
Hello, Vixen at 4D’s Lounge, Altoona
Felix & the Hurricanes at the Heidelberg Club, Altoona
Locked and Loaded at Magoo’s Cresson
Candle in the Wind (jazz) at Blue Moon Saloon, Cresson
Juke Left (acoustic) at Yesterday’s Party, Ebensburg (6-8 p.m.)
Inside Out (featuring former Kyx members) at Teriz Place, Altoona
The House Band at Family Pizza & Pub, Altoona
Samara and NailDriver at Aldo’s, Altoona
No Big Deal at Pellegrine’s, Altoona
7th Gear +1 at 4D’s Lounge, Altoona
Blu Voodoo at the Eldolyn Terrace, Altoona (starts 9:30 p.m.)
Without Zerb at Belmar Hotel, Altoona
The Dreaming and Sylex at Club Squared, Philipsburg (all ages, starts 8 p.m.)
Sunset Strip at City Hotel, Northern Cambria
Live Wire at Madhatters, St. Boniface
Johnny Danger at the Castle Pub, Ebensburg
Unbridled at Yesterday’s Party, Ebensburg
Juke Left (acoustic) at Jay’s Place, Ebensburg
Griff at Madhatters, St. Boniface (4-7 p.m.)
Backlash at Raystown Family Campground, Lake Raystown (starts 7:30 p.m.)
Felix & the Hurricanes at Shaw’s Bar, Altoona
Hair Force One at 30 Something, Altoona
Rob Carolus Band at Pellegrine’s, Altoona
Emily’s Toybox at 4D’s Lounge, Altoona
Sheldon Port at Main Street Café, Alexandria (starts 8 p.m.)
Bad Daze at Davey’s, Hastings
Bob Helbig (Mi Solo Beatles) at Thirsty Dawg Taverne, Patton
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.)
Scott Jeffreys Triad (jazz) at Blue Moon Saloon, Cresson (starts 8 p.m.)
Open Mic/Jam Night at City Hotel, Northern Cambria (starts 9 p.m.)
Felix & the Hurricanes at Joe & Mary’s, Altoona (starts 9 p.m.)
The Backyard Rockers at Pellegrine’s, Altoona (starts 9:30 p.m.)
Dan Myers II 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.)
To report additional shows or corrections to this listing, email information to email@example.com.
Johnstown's Candle in the Wind, during their first appearance at Cresson's Blue Moon Saloon in late April. They bring their smooth jazz back to the Blue Moon this Friday night.