Stage West in Scranton reopens with first indoor show by pop rockers Nowhere Slow on June 27
This week, Scranton music venue Stage West announced its first indoor show since Parade Day on March 14.
The coronavirus pandemic has kept the place closed to the public for about three months, though owner Steve Masterson has managed to stay in business by offering an expanded menu of takeout food, a beer home delivery service, and by opening a cold-pressed juicery in the building called Press’d.
When Lackawanna County entered the yellow phase of reopening on June 5, Stage West was allowed to open for outdoor dining on its deck with social distancing and safety guidelines in place. Live music will officially return to the venue this Thursday, June 18 when Scranton cover band Black Tie Stereo plays an acoustic set on the deck (weather permitting) that will serve as the first entry in Stage West’s new weekly series “Wings & Strings,” a .65 cent hot wing night paired with unplugged musicians.
The county is expected to move into the green phase of reopening on Friday, June 26, so Stage West (301 N. Main Ave., Scranton) will celebrate with a “Green Phase Party” indoors with Scranton pop rock band Nowhere Slow on Saturday, June 27 at 9 p.m.
As the show will be held inside, a limited number of tickets will be sold in advance by reservation, as well as at the door if seats are still available. Seats can be reserved for $7 in advance by direct messaging Stage West on Facebook or Instagram. All social distancing regulations set forth by the state and Lackawanna County will be enforced.
According to Governor Tom Wolf’s plan to reopen Pennsylvania, the green phase’s social restrictions are as follows:
- Large gatherings of more than 250 are prohibited.
- Masks are required when entering a business.
- Restaurants and bars can open at 50 percent occupancy.
- Indoor recreation, health, and wellness facilities and personal care services (such as gyms and spas) can open at 50 percent occupancy with appointments strongly encouraged.
- All entertainment (such as casinos, theaters, and shopping malls) can open at 50 percent occupancy.
- Construction activity may return to full capacity with the continued implementation of protocols.
Personal care services (including hair salons and barbershops) can open at 50 percent occupancy and by appointment only.
During the quarantine, Nowhere Slow teamed up with Ionic Development and NEPA Scene to present a live streaming socially distanced concert from Stage West on May 1. Each member of the band was spaced over 6 feet apart from each other across the entire empty venue as they played a 90-minute set of rock hits and interacted with Facebook commenters watching the stream from home.
See the entire show below:
As a winding guitar riff finds its way home, the drums and bass drop out suddenly and Nowhere Slow’s 2010 studio album opens with two words – “Wake up!”
It is both an announcement and an invitation. Having played in front of packed clubs in Northeastern Pennsylvania for the better part of a decade, Nowhere Slow reached new heights with “Listen/Love,” their fourth and most ambitious studio album. Blending pop sensibility with tight harmonies and melodic songwriting, the four-piece band branched out in every way, exploring new sounds while booking new venues and finding new challenges on stage and in the studio.
Formed in 1997 as a collaboration between teenage cousins Rick Gillette and Jeff Hertzog, Nowhere Slow has won radio play and steady press coverage while rising from small gigs in corner bars to packed shows at the largest clubs in the Scranton area.
As the band’s principal songwriter and lead singer, Gillette is a pop music savant with a knack for hooks and melody. He was at the center of the band’s largely acoustic debut, “Look Up and Jam,” but the band began to add musical muscle with the addition of bassist Will Clauss in 2002. Bringing a heavier rock edge to Gillette’s singer/songwriter style, the 2003 release “2 Weeks” was a more well-rounded full-band album that began to establish Nowhere Slow as a legitimate original act.
With a mix of self-stylized covers and original material, Nowhere Slow was quickly becoming one of the most popular acts in the Scranton area when veteran musician John Canjar joined on lead guitar in 2005. With his roots in jam and classic rock, Canjar brought technical know-how and professional craftsmanship to Gillette’s already catchy songwriting, so 2007’s “Stranger in the Alps” was a giant leap forward. It landed Nowhere Slow on local compilation albums, increased their radio presence, and led to side-stage gigs at the Toyota Pavilion in Scranton, opening for the likes of James Taylor and John Mayer.
In 2010, Nowhere Slow rose to a new level. Hertzog stepped away to spend more time with his young son, and the band added local professional Matt Kester on drums. A longtime friend of the band, Kester brought a polished but explosive backbone that left Gillette and Canjar free to explore new realms of songwriting, while Clauss delved further into his own funk and hard rock influences. The result is “Listen/Love,” a bold musical statement produced by Eric Ritter and mastered at Abbey Road Studios. For Nowhere Slow’s loyal fan base, the new songs became requested setlist additions even before the album’s release, and the band began expanding from their Scranton base to play new material in front of new crowds at new venues.
The music is always a work in progress, but Nowhere Slow has found their identity in a sound both catchy and challenging, accessible without feeling generic. In a live setting, the band breathes new life into cover songs while winning audiences with their originals. The musical evolution continues, but Nowhere Slow has found their stride, performing all over Northeastern Pennsylvania and along the East Coast at vacation spots like Seacrets in Ocean City, Sloppy Joe’s in Key West, and the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach to this day.
Learn more about Nowhere Slow in an interview with Gillette in Episode 44 of the NEPA Scene Podcast:
Photo of Rick Gillette by Rich Howells/NEPA Scene