The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Music
Have you ever found a great bargain? Something that made you feel you were very lucky to get it? Ever tell anyone about your stroke of good fortune? Sure you did. We all like to share tips with our friends about how to get more out of life, especially when the price is right.
The price doesn’t get any more right when it comes to the 2016 Pennsylvania State Laurel Festival Concert Series. The organizers have pulled o a genuine coup; for five days in June during the festival there will be a musical happening of some genre with a ticket price of exactly zero. Plan your calendar properly and you can fill your ears with glorious sound for a week and not spend a penny.
This piece of magic was made possible by some generous underwriting from the Wellsboro Concert Association, people who know a thing or two about music. Julie VanNess, executive director of the Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce, said outstanding community support made it possible to offer so many days of free music.
“There is a variety of music to suit just about everyone. We do family stuff, bluegrass, country, more classical, the whole gamut. And it’s not just local groups, although they are very good. We have some regional and even national folks coming to play for our festival.”
Add to that musical potpourri the vision of outdoor concerts and meeting some of the area’s nest young ladies vying for the title of Queen and you have a scene that would make Norman Rockwell’s fingers inch for his paintbrush.
The joyful noise kicks off on Sunday, June 12. The Wednesday Morning Musicales Chorus will raise their voices in the United Methodist Church of Wellsboro at 7 p.m.
Monday evening, June 13, Callanish will take the stage at the Coolidge Theatre in the Dean Center at 7 p.m. is is your chance to channel your inner Riverdancer. The all-female group hails from central Pennsylvania and makes it their mission to bring the music of Ireland and Scotland to our mountains. A fabulous stew of instruments, from a fiddle and a flute to a concertina and a whistle will join with that sweet three-part harmony to make you dream of a thatched-roofed cottage on a rocky shore. The band has a packed schedule of festivals to play when the weather warms. They also have CDs in circulation.
Tuesday, June 14, brings Megan McGarry to the Coolidge Theatre at the Deane Center for the Performing Arts. Deane Center Director Kevin Connelly gushes about the talented young lady, who is attending the Berklee College of Music. “She is a wonderful musician, singer, and songwriter.” Playing the fiddle and the claw hammer banjo, the only thing brighter than Megan’s music is her smile. Her concert on Tuesday starts at 7 p.m.
In a week of exceptional performances, one of the most anticipated is that of the “Almost Famous” Wellsboro Town Band. Director Adam Brennan will lead a group of local folks who range from high school freshmen to the retired set. As Julie says, “Everyone loves the Town Band.” Everyone includes the residents at the Green Home and the local boy scouts, who make sure no one is left out. Just before show time, you can see the scouts making their way to the Wellsboro Green, pushing wheelchairs and assisting the seniors in getting settled in for the music.
As they have for the last two years, the Wellsboro Town Band will ll the Wellsboro Green with music on Wednesday, June 15 at 7 p.m. Take those lawn chairs and picnic baskets out of winter storage and get ready to make an evening of it. Cheering on the Wellsboro Town Band also helps plant the seeds for the region’s musical future. High school musicians who participate with the group can receive money to support their plans to attend summer music camp.
Thursday evening brings a real piece of Americana to the First Presbyterian Church of Wellsboro. Where else but a charming small town could produce the Wellsboro Men’s and Women’s Choruses? Their annual musical offering begins at 7 p.m. at the church at 130 Main Street. You haven’t really experience all the Laurel Festival has to offer until you have listened to your dentist sing!
Friday brings a foot-stomping crescendo to the workweek with the Zydeco Trail Riders. A popular group from New York State, the Zydeco Trail Riders bring a swinging sound that marries the best of country and bluegrass. Kevin said a recent improvement on the Deane Center outdoor stage will make things more comfortable for the performers.
“We put up a new awning on the stage, so the musicians can be out of the elements a little.”
There is also a very good reason to be early to the Zydeco Trail Riders performance. Starting at 4:30 p.m., the ladies competing in the Laurel Festival Queen’s contest will be formally introduced as a part of the week’s festivities.
“This is a band you can dance to,” Kevin relates. “And since they follow the introduction of the Queen candidates, the ladies are right in the mix, dancing with their families and friends.”
The Deane Center is serving as headquarters for the Laurel Queen contest, and Kevin says they are thrilled about that.
“We wanted to enhance the idea that the festival is several days long, with different things to do each day. Everything about the Queens will be done with us, so it’s nice to be involved so heavily.”
Saturday, as any veteran of the Laurel Festival knows, is a moveable feast of music with the two-hour parade. Stage shows crank up again on Sunday, June 19 at 2 p.m. back on the Deane outdoor stage with Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys. This is a national group that celebrates the native sound of American country and bluegrass music, roaming the northeast in the warm weather months with stops at large festivals.
So, there you have it. A week of glorious sound, some of which, Mother Nature cooperating, will take place in the sweet summer air in the heart of the Endless Mountains. For more details on the entire Laurel Festival, visit the Wellsboro Chamber of Commerce Web site at www.wellsboropa.com.
A more heart lifting, toe tapping, finger-snapping bargain is not to be found. See you at the shows!