NEPA Scene Staff

24 bands will play live in downtown Scranton Community Block Party on May 7-8

24 bands will play live in downtown Scranton Community Block Party on May 7-8
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From a press release:

Earlier this month, the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce announced its plan to host a free outdoor block party featuring live music and entertainment, shopping, dining, children’s activities, and more.

Coinciding with First Friday Scranton, the Chamber Community Block Party will take place on Friday, May 7 from 5 p.m.-9 p.m. and Saturday, May 8 from noon-4 p.m. on the 200 and 300 blocks of Penn Avenue in downtown Scranton.

Today, the full lineup of local bands, solo musicians, and multicultural performance groups was revealed. Pop, rock, blues, jazz, funk, alternative, indie, folk, reggae, brass, oompah, polka, country, world music, and more genres are all represented on three different stages.

This new event will also include vendor marketplaces, children’s activities, art exhibits, and more. Held in lieu of the chamber’s annual dinner this year, it will follow all CDC guidelines. Beginning Sunday, May 2 and running through Saturday, May 8, the chamber will also celebrate and promote “Chamber Restaurant Week” across the greater Scranton community.

“The chamber exists because of our local businesses, and we are here to support them. After the turbulent year of 2020 – and as we continue to come out on the other side of the pandemic – our board and staff wanted to plan a safe, family-friendly event that supports all businesses and celebrates our community,” Chamber President Bob Durkin said.

The Scranton Chamber is looking for vendors, artists, entertainers, and volunteers to get involved and help make the festivities extra special. All opportunities are free, and all are welcome to apply through the provided links.

Chamber Community Block Party musical lineup

Friday, May 7

The Chamber Stage

5 p.m.: Justin Padró Latin Jazz Ensemble

Justin Padró is a musician, writer, educator, sound engineer, DJ, and producer from Brooklyn, New York who has performed throughout Europe, Africa, China, Canada, and the United States. He is the first-ever recipient of the Louis Armstrong Foundation Jazz Scholars Award from the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University in New York; the founder of the “Latin Jazz Hour” radio show on WKCR 89.9 FM NY; has written about music, art, and culture, contributing to books such as “The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records” by Ashley Kahn; and was part of the Maybe Mars/D-22 Crew that founded the underground punk movement in Beijing, China.

Padró will be backed by Ian O’Hara on bass, Nate Zaur on keys, and Nick Driscoll on sax.

6 p.m.: Schütengiggles

The Schützengiggles Oompah Band is German/Bavarian brass oompah band based in Scranton. They feature music from the Bavarian celebration tradition, including polkas, waltzes, and marches as well as the pop music that has been incorporated into modern Oktoberfest celebrations.

7 p.m.: Gary Rixner Trio

Originally from Pittsburgh, Gary Rixner is a graduate of the Carnegie Mellon University School of Music as a featured soloist with the Carnegie Mellon Orchestra performing Byron McColloh’s “Concerto for Large Trombone and Small Orchestra.” He has made numerous appearances at Carnegie Hall in New York City, including a solo performance with the Carnegie Mellon Brass Quintet. He then toured with Gayle Sonders and BHQ, the Bill Harms Quintet. His sideman credits include The Temptations, Four Tops, Bill Haley & His Comets, COTA Festival Big Band, Great Swamp Blues Band, soloist with The Rat Pack Tour, Hal Linden, Lou Christie, and The 5th Dimension.

He is currently dividing his time with various groups, including Picture Perfect, Paul LaBelle and the Exact Change Band, Daddy-O and the Sax Maniax, Indigo Moon Brass Band, and his own trio.

8 p.m.: Indigo Moon Brass Band

Indigo Moon Brass Band brings their big and bold New Orleans sound that derives from the multicultural melting pot of unique rhythms and rhymes originating from the African communities that settled there. Early influences such as rural blues, ragtime, and the free-spirited improvisation of marching bands are still very much celebrated at festivals and music halls all over the world… and not just on Fat Tuesday. The saints are sure to go marching in with Nick Driscoll (sax/vocals), Dan Coyle (trumpet), George Levandowski (tuba), Gary Rixer (trombone), and AJ Jump (drums).

Needle Law Stage

5 p.m.: The Merchants of Groove

The Merchants of Groove is Northeastern Pennsylvania’s premier traditional houserockin’ blues band. Fronted by founder Paul Lyon on vocals and guitar, the band features the jaw-dropping lead guitar work of original band member Teddy Young, the harmonica and vocals of Les Toth, and the rock-solid rhythmic grooves of original drummer Mike Basalyga and bass player Robert “Frog” Fenstermaker, formerly of the Blue Sparks From Hell. The band plays original tunes penned by Lyon and a wide variety of classic blues and blues rock tunes by such artists as Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Little Walter, ZZ Top, and many others.

6 p.m.: Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect Band is an 11-piece high-energy party band.

7 p.m.: The Tribe

Since their inception in the fall of 2018, The Tribe has toured consistently throughout the Northeast, Lehigh Valley, and New York state jam scenes. With a sound that might be considered jam-adjacent, The Tribe’s concise and groovy produced sound expands into a nuanced improvisational live show. The sound, while buoyant and dynamic in its several forms, is consistently founded by a pocket groove and thoughtful melodies.

8 p.m.: Modern Ties

Modern Ties is a group of NEPA musicians creating creating a pop/rock sound with indie flair. They sport catchy hooks and simple lyrics, but just under the surface of the polished sound is a pop rock sound with indie flair and a deep emotional core. They released their debut album “Moments/Missed Opportunities” late last year and are ready to come out with a slew of new tunes in 2021.

PNC Music Stage

5 p.m.: Dave Brown of The Dishonest Fiddlers

Dave Brown and the Dishonest Fiddlers are a blossoming Americana group based in NEPA. Since 2013, this group has been winning over the heart and souls of music lovers everywhere they go. They are armed with authenticity, determination, and a sound that hearkens back to the Greenwich Village folk scene of the 1960s. Influenced by timeless artists such as John Prine, Bob Dylan, Jim Croce, and David Bromberg, the band successfully weaves together a musical tapestry that rings true and familiar as those chimes on the front porch. The group heads into 2021 with an updated lineup, a rejuvenated energy, and a brand new studio album entitled “Based on a True Story” featuring 10 original handcrafted tunes.

6 p.m.: Brendan Brisk Band

Brendan Brisk is an artist on the Astrology Days Records label. Following his solo debut album, Brendan connected with Bernard Gavlick (bass), Justin Malinowski (drums), and Miles Orfanella (trumpet) to bring his recordings to the stage. Artistic integrity is encapsulated through the band’s wild improvisations, turning their live shows into a platform for experimentation, expression, and creativity.

7 p.m.: The Boastfuls

Hailing from Scranton, NEPA’s premier alt trio delivers alternative rock with nothing short of electrifying intensity. Featuring Martin Monahan (vocals and rhythm guitar), Christopher Benitez (bass), and Chad Wescott (drums and percussion), the winners of Best New Artist at the 2018 Steamtown Music Awards can also “strips it down” with an acoustic set that offers a pure up close and personal experience.

8 p.m.: Gabby Borges Band

Writing tunes dripping with both sarcasm and introspection, Gabby Borges escorts listeners into a world not often ventured. When was the last time you inspected yourself to find out why you are the way you are? Borges approaches this endeavor, but not without having a little fun along the way.

Saturday, May 8

The Chamber Stage

Noon: Brenda Fernandes

Brenda Fernandes is a Scranton-based multi-genre musician, singer/songwriter, and record producer. Her captivating music is a blend of alternative beats, harmonium, synthesizer, and soothing vocal melodies. Her poetic and insightful lyrical approach combines beautifully with her soulful sound. Her new album “As I Am” was just released in February.

1 p.m.: Wade Preston Band

The Wade Preston Band is Wade Preston on keyboards and vocals, Steve Kurilla on drums, and Jon Ventre on bass. Preston’s biggest claim to fame is playing the “Piano Man” role in the Billy Joel/Twyla Tharp Broadway hit “Movin’ Out.” As a result, on the East Coast, he is known as the Billy Joel guy and does concerts with the Movin’ Out Band as well as solo concerts, mostly revolving around the music of Billy Joel.

Before Preston landed the Broadway gig, however, he lived in Southern California and was well-known for his original material, spirited vocals, and piano chops, so on the West Coast, he is still known as Wade. His new CD featuring this lineup entitled “Lost in the Noise” is available now.

2 p.m.: Electric City Dixieland Band

A festival favorite, the Electric City Dixieland Band brings audiences back to the jazz pioneers of New Orleans. Dixie “jazz” underwent a revival in the 1940s but has always enjoyed a rich multicultural history deeply rooted throughout the South and later Chicago.

The Electric City Dixieland Band – Tom Kozic (guitar/banjo), Carmine Galati (drums), Bob Baird (trumpet), and Tom Hamilton (sax/clarinet) – takes a modern approach to Dixieland music while retaining the American original art form as we know it to be “jazz.”

3 p.m.: Kerry Kenny Band

Kerry Kenny is a singer/songwriter and teacher who has sung and performed many genres of music for her entire life. She studied Irish music in Ireland, film scoring at New York University, and computer music composition at the Academy of Music in Krakow, Poland. She has collaborated with Ania Szwajgier on film scores for animated short films, written an entire musical score in Polish for a live stage show (“Lans Macabre”), and performed for Amnesty International in Limerick, Ireland.

Kenny has proudly participated in the Audio Arts Festival and performed computer music compositions at the Goethe Institute, both in Krakow. In addition, she has performed in South Korea, led bands in New York City, and toured Europe.

Needle Law Stage

Noon: Franklin House

An original band from NEPA playing genre-bending tunes spanning folk, jam, Latin, funk, and beyond. The group is made up of Chris Zawatsky (guitar and vocals), Carl Charles (saxophone, flute, keyboard, and vocals), BJ Cook (bass and vocals), and Jason Stefanski (drums).

1 p.m.: Young Lion

Young Lion’s blend of roots, rock, and reggae is accomplished by the different playing styles and experience of its members. Their live performances include improvisation during their songs to provide listeners with a fresh experience every time they hear them perform.

2 p.m.: Dustin Douglas & The Electric Gentlemen

Pennsylvania’s premier blues rock power trio Dustin Douglas & The Electric Gentlemen combine sexy grooves, infectious rhythm, and Douglas’ soaring guitar work and unmistakable vocals for a lightning-charged vintage style all their own.

Led by the transcendent lead guitarist/singer/songwriter Dustin Douglas (Lemongelli, The Badlees), The Electric Gentlemen – Tommy Smallcomb (drums) and Matt “The Dane” Gabriel (bass) – have a retro/modern sound (à la Jimi Hendrix, Rival Sons, ZZ Top, and Marcus King) that leaves even the most discerning music fans with little left to ask for at the end of any live show. Look for new music from the band this year.

3 p.m.: Clarence Spady and the Electric City Band

Acclaimed Scranton bluesman Clarence Spady has been a longtime fixture of the Northeast music scene. He has been a regular performer at Greenwich Village’s iconic Terra Blues club, where he has been captivating travelers from all over the world with his guitar virtuosity and magnetic stage presence for nearly 30 years.

His sophomore release, “Just Between Us,” garnered a 2009 Blues Music Award nomination for Soul Blues Album of the Year. His first album in 13 years, “Surrender,” is set for release on May 21, but until then, the title track gives fans an exciting taste of what the future holds.

“You’re going to hear a maturity of writing more with what we’re getting ready to do, even though it’s gonna have energy,” Spady said. He doesn’t record nearly often enough, but the luxuriously downbeat and altogether cathartic “Surrender” confirms that when he does, he’s a truly gripping presence.

PNC Music Stage

Noon: Resham Band of the Bhutanese Cultural Foundation

Members of Resham Band of the Bhutanese Cultural Foundation play music of the Bhutanese/Nepali culture.

1 p.m.: Band of Rustlers

The Band of Rustlers – JP Biondo (vocals, mandolin), Kevin Williams (vocals bass), Roy Williams (vocals, guitar), and Alex Hargreaves (fiddle) – sing the harmonies and play the songs of the Old West. They pay tribute to the great singing cowboys and vocal arrangements of the Sons of the Pioneers, Rex Allen, and play the burning Western swing of Bob Wills and Spade Cooley.

2 p.m.: Jacob Cole Trio

Jacob Cole is a world percussionist, instructor, composer, jazz fusion drummer, and handpan composer. In this project, he is joined by fellow Rogue Chimp musicians Mark Woodyatt on violin and Jon Ventre on bass. They will be performing songs from Cole’s new handpan album titled “Hope.”

3 p.m.: Bonga and the Vodou Drums of Haiti

As an opener for the Rolling Stones, Bonga is regarded as a master of the Afro Haitian drum, sought after for his extensive repertoire of pan-African rhythms. A dynamic performer, accompanist, session player, and educator, Bonga works on stage, in the recording studio, and in educational settings. He is one of the few drum experts and craftsmen outside of Haiti who continues to build traditional drums using techniques that are centuries old.

Gaston “Bonga” Jean-Baptiste is joined by Balendjo Jean-Baptiste, age 11, and Jacqueline Jean-Baptiste, age 9.

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