Vince Cuneo said Gregg Allman is one of the reasons he started playing music himself.
Cuneo, a guitarist for State College-based jazz fusion Black Coffee, called Allman "one of the most influential blues players of our time." And, considering Allman is a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, few could disagree with him.
Soon, a festival with a budding reputation will bring local bands and music lovers together with nationally-acclaimed acts - and will bring Cuneo in the presence of his idol.
A shot of the crowd at the 2010 Ameriserv Flood City Music Festival.
The Ameriserv Flood City Music Festival will take over Johnstown Aug. 5 to 7. Along with Allman, other headliners include JJ Grey & Mofro, Bettye LaVette and Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears.
Shelley Johansson, director of communications and marketing for the Johnstown Area Heritage Association, which sponsors the event, said there are a few big changes for this years' festival. And having a Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer like Allman to fill this year's headlining slot is certainly a welcome one, she said.
"He's just very well-known to anybody who likes pop music at all," Johansson said. "He's not somebody just riding on past accomplishments, but he's someone still making really great music."
If you go
What: Ameriserv Flood City Music Festival
When: Aug 5-7
Where: People's Natural Gas Park in Johnstown, at the intersection of Walnut and Johns streets
Details: Tickets can be purchased at http://floodcitymusic.showclix.com. Single day tickets are $10 Friday and Sunday and $20 Saturday.
$80 Silver VIP packages include two tickets for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, two Silver VIP lanyards good for entrance into the sponsor lounge and one parking pass for the Silver Sponsor Lot near festival grounds and $40 Bronze VIP packages include one ticket for Friday, Saturday and Sunday and one Bronze VIP lanyard good for entrance into the sponsor lounge. Gold VIP packages are sold out.
Other changes include some to the festival's longtime home. The park was renamed People's Natural Gas Park, and will see extensive changes in the upcoming months. It will not look much different at this year's music festival, but plans for a covered pavilion and other face-lifts will be displayed to show festivalgoers what the park will look like in the future.
A new ticketing system, called ShowClix, also was introduced this year, which Johansson said will provide an easier ticket-buying experience. Single day tickets are now also being offered in advance, instead of solely at the door.
One thing that hasn't changed, Johansson said, is that the festival is always a "wonderful time."
"The mood is always so positive at the festival," she said. "People are really enjoying themselves and enjoying the music."
Cuneo said he's excited to participate in one of the best music festivals, not only in Pennsylvania, but in the country. He added that this year's lineup is the most diverse he's seen in four years of attending.
"It's just such a different mix," he said. "It doesn't matter what you like, you'll get something you like and you'll get to hear something new."
Several fan favorites will perform again this year, including Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience - an American zydeco band that has performed at the Flood City Music Festival since 1992.
Zydeco is the music of the rural black Creoles of southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas. Simien's family settled in the Mallet area of Louisiana in 1768, he said, but added that he was one of the first teenagers in the area to start a Zydeco band. Now the band has been together for 30 years, trying to preserve the history and culture of the Creoles and "get the story right," Simien said.
"There's a lot of misinterpretation about what the music is and what the culture is ," he said. "We have to do some damage control sometimes and let people know the truth."
Simien said he's found a lot of fans in Johnstown through his performances at the festival, but he knows there are a lot of people who still haven't heard the music.
"We just have to keep bringing it to whoever wants to listen," he said.
JJ Grey of JJ Grey & the Mofros has taken his music all over the world, but said he won't walk into the Flood City Music Festival for the first time and act like he owns the place.
"I don't like to come into the party where I don't know anyone with a martini glass and a cigarette in my hand and pretend like we're all friends and everybody knows me," he said.
But judging by the Florida swamp rocker's history, Grey will certainly be welcomed with open arms. The band's live show was described on one fan site to be "like a great drug buzz, but not near as expensive."
Grey said he approaches a live show like he does life, simply letting "the chips fall as they may."
"I hope they'll have fun if they show up," he said of the festival performance. "We'll do our best anyway."
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520