Cruisin’ for a cause
First Posted: 9/9/2013
All summer long, you’ve been to concerts, car and motorcycle shows, ethnic food festivals, and craft shows, but have you been to an event that combines every one?
Welcome to the first-ever Music, Motors, and More festival, a groundbreaking new event created by Live Nation to support The Bridge Youth Services’ Anti-Bullying Program and the Wyoming Valley Children’s Association, picking up where Concert for a Cause left off, in a way.
For only $10, the Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain will provide a full day of fun and entertainment for the whole family, but with all these simultaneous experiences going on, a breakdown of everything may be warranted. That’s where its sponsors at The Weekender come in…
The musical lineup for Music, Motors, and More may be diverse, but each local act has one thing in common – they’ve all recorded at Saturation Acres in Dupont with owner/producer Bret Alexander of roots rock band The Badlees.
Working as a studio engineer in 1990, Alexander joined The Badlees after he ended up playing many of the guitar parts on the group’s first EP, eventually becoming the band’s primary songwriter. It’s appropriate, then, that he and bassist Paul Smith would eventually return to a studio to form something even bigger in 1999.
“It just seemed logical to go back to the production side of things because we learned a lot over the years making records, and we learned a lot about how national records were made and how national bands became national bands, so we just kind of brought it back to the local area,” Alexander recalled.
“We weren’t really interested in showing anybody a picture of our board or listing our equipment. It was more like, ‘We’re going to teach you guys how to make records.’ …All the things that they were going through we already went through…and we forged a lot of great friendships that go to this day.”
With the help of longtime friend Alan K. Stout, he chose the festival’s bands, each representing different styles that are not only influenced by Alexander, but in turn influence him.
“I think my influence creeps into their stuff and their influence creeps into mine. It’s certainly a scene. It’s certainly a community, and we all love it,” Alexander said of the NEPA bands.
And The Badlees are well-loved not just locally, but nationally, continuing to tour and produce new music, including an upcoming double album due out Oct. 8.
“We have a handful of singers in the band, so on the one album I sing and the other album our lead singer sings. They’re kind of divided stylistically a bit, too. One is a little slicker and poppier, and the other one is a little more of a darker Americana kind of record. So that was a concept we came up with recently to do some different things. I think you end up sounding like yourself whether you want to or not, but you do just kind of try to go where your head is at at the time. Neil Young is a good example of that,” Alexander explained.
“An album isn’t necessarily a career move. It’s a little more of an artistic thing.”
Citing The Badlees’ “Amazing Grace” and side project The Cellarbirds’ “Perfect Smile” as his favorite records he’s written, Alexander is just as disciplined with his own work as he is with others’, producing on his own and learning several instruments along the way.
“There’s a definitely just a discipline to it as far as you just kind of have to get up in the morning and set aside a certain time to do it. I don’t usually wait to be inspired. There’s an author, Tom Robbins – I always use this quote. He said, ‘My muse doesn’t visit me every day, but she knows where to find me.’ That’s kind of the same thing. You just got to keep showing up and eventually you’re going to get it right a few times,” he humbly stated.
“Usually it’s just a matter of practicality. There wasn’t a producer around, so you learn how to produce. I play a lot of instruments, too, and it was the same philosophy. If I want a mandolin on this song and it’s two in the morning and I don’t know anybody that can come do it right now, so I’m going to learn how to play it myself. That was kind of the impetus for that do-it-yourself approach.”
And it pays off, as The Badlees are still in high demand throughout the year.
“It’s kind of like the mafia – once you’re in, you can’t get out. Really, it’s like anything. If you’re in a band and you have some sort of success and there’s offers to come perform and offers to make recordings, if you’ve had any measure of success at all, you’re going to be asked to do those things. So those things kind of show up in our case,” he noted.
Despite this wealth of knowledge and experience, however, Music, Motors, and More is still a relatively new experience for the prolific producer, but one he believes will be successful.
“I’m looking forward to seeing everybody. This is a leap of faith for us because there’s other components to it that aren’t really overseen by us… This is kind of new territory for us, so we’re just excited to see how it turns out.”
Scott Walter has been attending car shows since the age of 13 with his father.
“My father was into it since he was in high school, and then he had gotten out of it and he got back into it with me when I was young,” Walter recalled.
Now the proud owner of a 1989 Corvette L98, the Laflin resident joined the Corvette Club of NEPA and has participated in many charity events since, though Music, Motors, and More may be the most unique one yet.
“We do a lot of club events. We do a lot of driving events. This is the first show we’re doing in a number of years,” Walter noted.
“It was an invitation from Live Nation and we decided to take it up.”
It will be showcasing 20 different classes, with registration at 8 a.m. until noon for $15, which includes admission to the entire event for the driver and those in the car. Judging is at 12:30 p.m., and awards will be given at 3 p.m.
“It’s a long day of hard work, but it’s enjoyable,” Walter said.
He agreed that this event could attract those who may not normally attend car shows, and they may walk away with an appreciation for these polished vehicles, particularly the corvettes that have left an indelible mark on him.
“The reason, personally, that I got involved was I was intrigued by the engineering. I’m into mechanical things,” he said of corvettes.
“It’s America’s first true sports car.”
A motorcycle show presented by members of the Wyoming Valley Children’s Association will also satisfy motorheads looking to check out a chopper or two.
With all this combined with handmade crafts and delicious food, what other reason would you possibly need to go? Well, Alan K. Stout can think of a pretty good one.
The community and resource development coordinator with Catholic Social Services has been teaching an anti-bullying course at Wyoming Valley West Middle School as part of The Bridge Youth Services’ Anti-Bullying Program, and he’s learned quite a bit about what kids go through and why bullying occurs.
“You’d be surprised at how remarkably candid they can be with why they’re there,” Stout pointed out.
“They’ll tell me what they did; I’ll ask them why. Obviously a lot of times they don’t have a good answer for that, so we need to try to get to the root of it a little bit. There’s a pretty prevalent theory that bullies at some point in their lives were bullied… They’re taking that behavior that they’ve learned and projecting it out to others. They can talk about that if they want to. It’s all about getting it out there and trying to move forward.”
The four-week after-school program runs from November through late May, and participating students are chosen by the school administration – some are kids who are bullied, some are kids who have bullied others, and some are simply anti-bullying advocates. The program, which has been running for about four years, is currently in the Wyoming Valley West and Wilkes-Barre Area school districts and covers the five different types of bullying – physical, verbal, property, exclusion, and cyber bullying
“When I was a kid, this (type of education) didn’t happen. Adults, I don’t want to say they looked the other way, but I think there was this mentality that it was a part of growing up and kids will be kids. You think back on it and that’s nonsense. It shouldn’t be a part of growing up. I tell my kids when I teach them in the class that it’s hard enough to come to this school every day and do well with your subjects,” Stout emphasized.
“It’s something I feel strongly about, especially now that I have kids. It was always a topic that bothered me, but when you have children, it’s real heartbreaking to think that anybody’s child would have that sort of anxiety every day over just going to school.”
And with students throughout the country even taking their own lives due to the pressures of bullying, Stout believes programs like this are more important now than ever.
“To have these kinds of discussions with students creates a culture because they take it outside of those classes. They’re the ones that are in the hallways. They’re the ones that are out at the bus stops. They’re the ones that are in the cafeteria and the gym. What I’ve noticed at Wyoming Valley West is there’s an incredible anti-bullying culture.”
As the host of Music on the Menu on 102themountain.com and 98.5 HD2 and an award-winning music journalist, Stout is also still heavily involved with the local music scene. Knowing that he helped organize the final Concert for a Cause to benefit the anti-bullying program, Live Nation asked him to do the same with Music, Motors, and More, raising funds to continue the program with no charge to schools.
“I like music – I think a lot of people know that. And I like local music. I was involved with Bret Alexander in picking the talent for this show and I think we’ve put together a great lineup of artists, so I’m obviously looking forward to that. I’m not a motorcyclist or a car collector…but even though I don’t have them, I sure as hell like looking at them just as much as the next guy,” he commented.
“I’ve got to give the people at Live Nation credit. They opened up the season this year with the Old Farmers Ball, which was anchored by local talent, and they’re closing the season with an event anchored by local talent.
“They reached out to me about this event. They’re the ones that proposed it to us at The Bridge Youth Services, so it’s exciting to work with a company like that at a venue like that on something for charity that will help local kids.”
What is your favorite driving music?
“My favorite driving music is whatever my wife Shawnsie puts on the mixed CD. She has an awesome taste in music, so it’s always a safe bet I’m going to like it. She typically makes and titles mixed CDs specifically for whatever trip we’re taking, too, so it’s always new.” –Tim Farley of Farley
“It’s no secret that I am a big Beatles fan. When I am not blasting Beatles music in my car, I tend to try out my own songs at loud volume. It feels good to see the response from other motorists!” –Eddie Appnel
“For me, driving music always depends on the situation. Lately, I’ve been listening to Leroy Justice, Wilco, and Keith Urban-type stuff for those free-feeling sunny day drives. Hunter Hayes’ ‘I Want Crazy’ is a current go-to song, too. If I’m trying to blow off some stress, I turn to my Hawaii Mix that has stuff from Bob Marley, Common Kings, and J-Boog. If we’re talking late-night driving, I go to Kacey Musgraves and John Mayer’s newer stuff.” –k8
“For me, the best driving tunes is some good old classic rock. Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’ or any AC/DC always help a long drive go by quicker.” –Dustin Drevitch
“Driving is usually when I like to think, so I like music that’s a little bit deeper when I’m driving. I’ll listen to metal when I’m working out, and I’ll listen to pop when I’m a lighter mood. Driving is my thinking time, so I like listening to something like (Bruce) Springsteen or The Badlees, artists like that that have a little bit of depth to their lyrics.” –Alan K. Stout, festival organizer and Music on the Menu host
“The truth is I don’t listen to music in my car. I listen to music all day. When I’m driving, I want quiet.” –Bret Alexander of The Badlees and Saturation Acres
Music, Motors, and More: Sept. 15, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain (1000 Montage Mountain Rd., Scranton). $10.
Eddie Appnel: 10:30- 11 a.m.
Ed Randazzo: 11:15- 11:45 a.m.
MiZ: Noon-12:45 p.m.
k8: 1 p.m.- 1:45 p.m.
Farley: 2 p.m.-2:45 p.m.
Dustin Drevitch: 3 p.m.-3:45 p.m.
Graces Downfall: 4 p.m.-4:45 p.m.
The Badlees: 5- 6 p.m.
Car Show Categories
20 Classes: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in each class
1. Corvettes 1953-1967
2. Corvettes 1968-1982
3. Corvettes 1984-1996
4. Corvettes 1997-present
5 AACA Senior Cars
6. 1900-1949 stock
7. 1950-1959 stock
8. 1960-1969 stock
9. 1970-1979 stock
10. 1980-present stock
11. 1964-1980 Mustang/Cougar stock
12. 1980 -present Mustang /Cougar stock
13. Camaro and Firebird
14. Factory Muscle stock
15. Trucks Stock
16. Trucks Custom
17. Tuner Cars/ Low-rider
18. Street Rods and Customs
19. Foreign Sports Roadsters
20. Special Interest
Registration: 8 a.m.-noon, $15, includes entrance fee for festival for driver and passengers. Judging at 12:30 p.m., awards at 3 p.m. Info: ccnepa.com.