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Local Music Lineage - Then and Now

April 12, 2007 - Jim Price

Twenty years ago, local music and dance fans used to flock to Altoona’s 4D’s Lounge to see musicians named Wertz and Rutherford playing together on the same stage.



Now, twenty years later, local music and dance fans are again flocking to the 4D’s Lounge, to see musicians named Wertz and Rutherford playing together on the same stage.


Those two surnames may be the same, but the generations and faces have changed.


Twenty years ago, the musicians were guitarist/singer Rick Wertz and bassist/singer Randy Rutherford, both playing for the popular Altoona-based rock, funk and dance band Xeno.


Now, the musicians are guitarist/singer Eric Wertz and drummer Evan Rutherford – the sons of Rick and Randy respectively – and they both play for the rising Altoona-based rock band 9 Planet Tour.



9 Planet Tour has quickly emerged into a favorite on Altoona area stages since they first surfaced last year.  The group has developed a strong local fan base with a potent stage show and a wide-ranging song selection, spanning current rock favorites to classics, early Beatles, surf rock and more.  9 Planet Tour is also developing a catalog of original songs, any of which can surface during a given show as well.



Besides the Wertz and Rutherford generational connections, there is another similarity between the earlier Xeno and the current 9 Planet Tour: a powerful and rangeful female lead singer was/is at the front of each band.  Twenty years ago, Xeno was fronted by a stellar singer named Paula Glunt, who could shake the heavens with her power and range.  Likewise, 9 Planet Tour has such a singer as well, Erika Marino.  She has the pipes, and she is not afraid to use them.  Fans will know that Erika is on the stage when she belts out hearty vocal displays on such songs as Heart’s “Barracuda,” Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Piece of My Heart,” Guns’N’Roses’ “Sweet Child O’Mine” and others.



Two more members round out 9 Planet Tour’s roster: guitarist/singer Brendon Burns, who is also one of the group’s primary songwriters; and bassist Kelly Montgomery, a ten-year veteran of local stages.


If you haven’t yet discovered 9 Planet Tour, the group will perform this Friday evening, April 13, at – where else? – Altoona’s 4D’s Lounge, starting at 10:30 PM. 


And if you need a little extra incentive to venture out to this show, it is also a “Rock For The Troops” show.  Volunteers from local music website Rockpage will be present with video cameras, to record the band and audience members extending greetings and showing support for our local troops serving overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The footage will then be compiled onto DVD’s and picture CD’s to be sent to local Armed Forces units stationed in those two countries.  Donations will also be collected to defray the cost of producing the DVD’s, and to purchase phone cards for local troops.


This Friday evening will be your chance to catch a rising local band, and show appreciation for our local troops.


 The 4D’s Lounge is located inside the Pleasant Valley Recreation Center, along 17th Street in Altoona.  For more information, call 943-9462.

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