Holiday Reunion show at Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre features local talent
WILKES-BARRE — With a pair of bands getting together on stage for the first time in a long time and four active acts comprised of musicians who enjoy each other’s company and collaborations, the Holiday Reunion Concert at the F.M. Kirby Center is aptly named.
Presented by Highway 81 Revisited, the music showcase begins at 7 p.m. Dec. 30, at the theater on Public Square and features local acts Underground Saints, The Five Percent, Bret Alexander, Aaron Fink & the Fury, Death Valley Dreams and the Tony Halchak Band.
The lineup was put together by Wilkes-Barre native and accomplished drummer A.J. Jump. Jump currently lives in Eugene, Ore. and keeps time in nationally touring King Radio but said he loves playing with musicians from Northeastern Pennsylvania who are among the best he’s worked with.
Jump said planning started when two groups he’s drummed in, Underground Saints and The Five Percent, discussed doing reunion shows over the holiday stretch.
“I’m directly connected with and have played in projects or on records with every single person on this bill, and they’re all my great friends,” Jump said. “We always used to have fun when everybody would get together at Concert for a Cause every year, and I thought something like this would be a lot of fun.
After filling out the bill, Jump said he reached out to Michael Lello, a friend and founder of online music publication Highway 81 Revisited, to be a presenter.
Lello, a Pittston native currently based in Queens, N.Y. said his appreciation for Jump, the lineup and the Kirby Center made the association an easy decision.
“I’d say it’s a nice mix of nostalgia and bands that are … focused on putting out new music,” Lello said. “When you factor in that it’s the holidays and people who have moved away are back in town, it should be a nice time for everyone.”
Lello said he continues to cover NEPA music because he is drawn by the output of good artists in the area and finds their successes encouraging.
“I think it’s the blue collar work ethic in the region,” Lello said. “People really have to scrape hard, and I think the people who have made it, not much has come to them. They had to go out and chase it, and I think part of me will always be respectful of that working class nature.”
Jump will reunite with former bandmates Matt Ralph of The Five Percent and John Smith and Pat Flynn of Underground Saints. Jump and Saints bassist Mark Kiesinger have played together for 13 years and currently work together in King Radio.
“Whenever we all get together, it’s always fantastic,” Jump said of he and the others on the bill. “We’re all looking forward to it.”
Lello said he’s a personal fan of each act scheduled to play. He called the festival-style bill a steal for $12 in advance and $15 the day of the show, and he applauded the Kirby Center’s executive director for inviting in local talent.
“Will Beekman deserves a lot of credit,” Lello said. “There are not a lot of national venues of that size (1,800 seats) that even pay any attention to local artists, and he gives them a stage to perform on. If people are saying there’s nothing to do around here, they should go to the Kirby Center on Dec. 30.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArt
IF YOU GO
What: Holiday Reunion Show featuring Underground Saints, The Five Percent, Bret Alexander, Aaron Fink & The Fury, Death Valley Dreams and the Tony Halchak Band
Where: F.M. Kirby Center, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
When: 7 p.m. Dec. 30
Additional information: Tickets cost $12 in advance and $15 the day of the show and are available at the Kirby Center box office, online at kirbycenter.org or by phone at 570-826-1100.