"Beautiful weather, live music - there's nothing better than live music outdoors," said Sherry McCarthy, director of marketing for the Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona.
And that is exactly what the museum has provided for years with its Alive @ 5 concert series, this summer being no exception.
The series kicks off June 16 with Tom Watt, also known as "The Buffett Man," and will round out on Aug. 4 with Alive @ 5 staple, Pittsburgh rock band The Clarks, and opening act Rain Must Fall.
Mirror file photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Tom Watt, “The Buffett Man,” and his band perform at the Railroaders Memorial Museum during the Alive @ 5 Concert Series in 2008. Watt will return to the series this summer, on June 16.
New headliners to the Alive @ 5 stage this year will be: Peace Frog, a tribute to The Doors on June 30, with local openers Felix and the Hurricanes; and Lotus Land, an American RUSH tribute band, who will perform on July 14, with opening band Half Tempted.
McCarthy said she's excited to bring in the new bands, adding that cover bands also seem to go over well with the public.
"I've said in the past that we can't actually have RUSH or another band here because the money to bring something like that isn't feasible," she said. "Cover bands are the perfect way to go."
Returning acts like Tom Watt and The Clarks also bring in a good crowd, McCarthy said, adding that locals ask to have The Clarks back every year.
"They're always very eager to play here," she added of the band. "It's always one of the biggest shows we have."
Watt said he's always excited to come play here, as Altoona, Pittsburgh and Johnstown have been his biggest markets since he started his Jimmy Buffett act almost 15 years ago. Along with all the favorites, Watt said he and his band may play a few new tunes this year, including "Where The Boat Leaves From" by Zac Brown Band.
"We have to make sure, when we choose a song, that we really worked on it," he said. "It should be one that will gain participation from the audience, whether a listening audience or a dancing audience."
Watt started out as an acoustic musician in the '70s. He threw "Margaritaville" into his set every once in a while, but never thought he looked or sounded like the man himself. Then on a cruise years later, he got to know the house band and they invited him up to sing a song with them one night.
"We wound up doing 'Margaritaville,'" Watt said. "Everyone on the ship, from that moment on, thought I was Jimmy Buffett."
Since then, Watt has attended celebrity impersonator conventions, had his picture snapped in airports and had people line up for autographs after shows. But what he enjoys most about the act is perpetuating the fun, beachy vibes of Buffett's music.
"There's a reason that [people] catch on to it and get the idea," he said.
During their opening set on July 14, Ron Dalansky, guitarist for local veteran rock band Half Tempted, said the band plans to bring rock from RUSH's era to complement the tribute band's set.
"I'm happy anytime anyone wants to play rock 'n' roll music," he said. "That way, it keeps it alive."
Half Tempted has been playing in the area for 25 years, with Dalansky being the one constant member. He said that summer is the band's busiest season, and they enjoy playing outdoor, all-age shows like those at the Railroaders Museum.
"It's a great venue, and lots of fun [to play]," he said. "There are people that will come see us that won't come to a bar, which is great because we get to pick up a few new fans."
Dalansky said he'd tell anyone to come out to the Alive @ 5 shows because it's a local venue with a nice atmosphere and offers something for everyone.
"You don't have to drive two hours away. ... When you're done at the concert, you're already home," he said.
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.