Up Close – Holly Pilcavage

Up Close – Holly Pilcavage

Holly Pilcavage is director of business development for Coal Creative, Wilkes-Barre, and manager of Wilkes-Barre Connect, an initiative of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce. A native of Plains Twp. and a graduate of Coughlin High School, she also is involved in the national organization ForCollegeForLife. Pilcavage earned a degree in business management from University of Scranton and a master’s degree in higher education administration from University of Akron. She lives in Kingston.

Meet Holly Pilcavage…

Can you tell us about your work with Coal Creative?
We do a lot with internet marketing, video marketing, live streaming, website design, traditional marketing and graphic design. When a company comes to us, they might have to start from scratch, or they might already have an established brand. Whatever it might be, we do a lot of strategizing and consulting. I’m the left brain of the company. Everyone else is the right brain — the creatives. I do more of client relations, client management, HR and payroll — just trying to keep things organized and moving forward. 

And your work with Wilkes-Barre Connect?
It’s almost like a hub for a lot of the different resources and programs and organizations that already exist. The Allan P. Kirby Center, the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the Diamond City Partnership … there are a lot of different players that all come together to put together different programs. It’s to connect — especially — entrepreneurs. 

People that don’t know where to start can come through our system, and I can help direct them to wherever they might need to go first, or next. And there’s a lot of follow-up as well, to make sure all of the dominos fall in place. Our five areas of focus are entrepreneurs, veterans, interns, financing and education.

And ForCollegeForLife? How are you involved with that organization?
I go to colleges and universities throughout the country, or different conferences, and speak to college students about different programs, one of which is Project Puzzle Piece, which is an organization that I founded. It helps students to see their place in the larger context of their organizations, community and the world and how they can impact each in a positive way. I do that — visit colleges — about four or five times a year.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I’m a writer. I like to write. And that ties in with Project Wednesday, which I founded. It’s a blog that fosters positive human development through storytelling. We currently have 30 writers from 15 different states, and pretty much — daily — we post a new blog. It helps spread inspiration and connect people with people.

Favorite music?
’90s and 2000s alternative.

Favorite city?
New York. You walk down one street and you’re at a museum. You walk down another street and you’re at the world’s best pizza shop. Or … you’re in a beautiful park.

Favorite place to vacation?
I went to Paris in December, and that’s one place that I just can’t wait to go back to.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
There’s a lot of drive and a lot of potential. I was living out of the state for a little while, and I just moved home 10 months ago. And I don’t know if it’s because I’m older or I’m more involved, but I just feel that the young professionals that I’m meeting, and even the established professionals — the way that they’re talking and the changes that they want to make — it feels real, and it feels good. I feel like I’m meeting a lot of like-minded people that are pushing forward. Change is inevitable. It’s up to us whether it’s going to be positive or negative.

All-time favorite movie?
“The Nightmare Before Christmas.” I also like “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”

Favorite TV show?
“The Office.”

Favorite food?
Unhealthy: bacon. Healthy: lettuce.

Guilty pleasure?
Cheese and wine.

Favorite holiday?
Halloween.

Favorite book or author?
“Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom.

Favorite quote or catchphrase?
I have two of my own little mantras: “I’m not trying to change the entire world. I’m just trying to make it a better place for some people.” And, before I have to do anything big, or make a presentation, I breathe in and breathe out and repeat to myself, “I know who I am. And I know what I do.” And, from when I went to the University of Scranton, I loved the quote from St. Ignatius: “Go forth and set the world on fire.”

Biggest pet peeve?
Poor grammar. Like when people say, “I don’t” instead of “I didn’t.” It’s actually something I need to fix about myself, because I correct people when I hear them do it before I even think about it. (Laughs) Sometimes I should think before I speak, because it’s not very nice. (Laughs)

Is there anything about you that might surprise people?
I’m actually an extrovert/introvert. I get up every day and meet with people and do what I have to do, but at the end of the day I have to become a hermit and regain my energy and just disconnect, completely. I’m very active on social media, and people may think I’m a social butterfly, but in high school I was really quiet, and I still have that at heart. That’s still there. But I do what I have to do, because it’s important to me.

Have you had a moment in your life, or a person in your life, that has helped define you and shape you into the person you are today?
Throughout my educational experiences — elementary, junior high, high school and college — I’ve always had, for whatever reason, that one teacher that chose me and said, “I need to help her kind of figure out who she is.” And the biggest of all of them was my French teacher from high school. When I was a freshman, she just kind of took me under her wing with that whole concept of, “It takes a village…” I had no idea, but her and my mom would connect and talk about my progress. I was very different. Very quiet. I didn’t know who I was back then. I was lucky to have many educators connect with me, but she was pivotal in me becoming who I am today. 

UP CLOSE & PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at alankstout@comcast.net.

 

Photos by Emma Black

Up Close – Bryan Banks

Up Close – Bryan Banks

Bryan Banks is a professional musician who will release his first solo album, “The Sudden Sounds of Urgency,” on Friday, Sept. 1, and hold a CD release party Saturday, Oct. 7, at Thirst T’s, Olyphant. Previously, Banks drummed with area acts such as Owen’s Grudge, Dashboard Mary, Asialena, Jonathan Dressler and John Quinn. A native of Rockland County, New York, he relocated to Scranton in 2001 and now lives in Dunmore, where he works at Stericycle.
Meet Bryan Banks…

After spending so many years as a drummer, what was it like to record a solo album where you wrote and sang all of the songs and played almost all of the instruments?
Behind the scenes, I had been playing guitar as a way to write and a way to express thoughts, and to have that serenity. The dichotomy is different when you’re drumming, especially in a high-energy group like Owen’s Grudge, where you’re always coming at it a certain way. It was good to have another release point, and it was a helpful tool for me with drumming, because I could understand the mentality of the singer and the mentality of the guitar player, and I think it made me a better musician. 

What inspired the album?
Over the past couple of years, I’ve just been venturing out into the songwriting process. I always liked to put the pen to paper. There were some events in life that lead you to go in that direction, and I wanted to prove something to myself — that I could take something from start to finish. I worked on it for seven years, off and on, balancing being a working musician and a having full-time job. And I have to thank the guys at S.I. Studios. They were essential and patient. There are 10 songs on the album. There could have been 12 or 13. And I tracked close to 20 pieces. It started off where I was going to get these life-changing emotions out, but then I realized the writing was too personal … so I had to modify that.

How creatively fulfilling was it to work through all of that as an artist?
Unbelievable. Music has been the driving force in my whole life. And I’ve been blessed — and I use that word strongly — because I’m a man of faith. It’s a blessing, because people have been very kind to me, regarding accolades about my playing. But I always know I can get better and be better. But this was really self-fulfilling. It’s something you created from scratch. There was something about knowing I did it all and that I could accomplish it. And I really didn’t realize how fulfilling it was until people started saying that they couldn’t wait to hear it. Over the past year or two, I’ve started playing the guitar out more as a solo performer, because I felt I couldn’t cheat the game. I’ve been known for drumming, thanks to all of the artists that have let me share their stages, and now that I’ve started to come out with the guitar, I wanted to earn my keep. I didn’t want to just be “the guy who plays drums” and have that association. That would have been easy, but I can’t ask you to go purchase something or listen to something if I can’t legitimately do it.

Tell us about your shows. What, in addition to your own songs, do you play?
I try to incorporate a wide range of stuff. I’ll do “Stand By Me” and “Easy” by the Commodores, then I’ll do Alice in Chains’ “Man in a Box” and “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover.”

Who are some of your all-time favorite artists?
Prince; Rush, because of Neil Peart; Eddie Van Halen, who transitioned me into rock music and guitar; and I like Sevendust and Living Colour.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy video games, preferably the sports ones, because I can compete.

Favorite city?
Montreal. I’ve been there four times.

Favorite vacation spot?
Bermuda.

All-time favorite movie?
“Shawshank Redemption,” “Forrest Gump” and “Pulp Fiction.”

Favorite TV show? “Suits.”

Favorite food?
Lobster.

Favorite holiday?
Christmas.

Do you follow sports?
Yankees, Giants, Knicks and Rangers.

Favorite book or author? John Grisham.

Biggest pet peeve?
Ignorance. In any shape or form, wherever it’s coming from. There’s a lot to be learned, and you can make a choice to learn if you want to.

Guilty pleasure?
Probably eating. (Laughs)

Is there anything about you that might surprise people?
I was on a dance troupe with the New York/New Jersey Knights, of the World League of American Football, and performed twice at the Meadowlands. And a lot of people didn’t know I play guitar, but I’ve been doing it off and on for years.

Have you had a moment in your life, or a person in your life, that has really helped shape you, and helped define you as the person you are today?
The whole process of being in the studio. Because there were a lot of nights when I was there by myself and you’re tracking, and there are so many stages of human emotions. You go through positivity. You go through self-doubt. You go through confidence. Also, I’ve had some near-death experiences with car crashes and a drowning accident. I was in two really bad accidents, and I almost drowned, and so I have an appreciation for life. I am a man of faith, and I try to keep that first, in front of everything. And as far as people in my life, my mother. She used to direct the gospel choir. And I draw a lot of strength from her.

UP CLOSE & PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at alankstout@comcast.net.

 

Photos by Emma Black

 

Up Close – Jessica Meoni

Up Close – Jessica Meoni

Jessica Meoni is the art director at SUNY Broome Community College, Binghamton, New York, and an event coordinator in the Scranton area who had previously worked as a graphic designer at Marywood University. Meoni is a graduate of West Scranton High School and Marywood, where she received bachelor’s and master’s degrees and studied graphic design, art history, world history, publications and print-making. She lives in West Scranton.
Meet Jessica Meoni…

When did you first discover that you had an interest in graphic design?
In high school, though my high school didn’t actually have a graphic design program. I took art and things like that, but it was really traditional. I did a lot of painting. It didn’t really hit me until my senior year, when I was trying to seriously think about what I wanted to do. A representative from a college came to our school and told me, “If you go to a supermarket, and you go down any aisle, you’ll see everything that has to be designed. The store signage. The cereal boxes. The soup cans.” It’s kind of funny, because it’s right in front of your face, and you didn’t realize it. So I thought I would go toward commercial art. I didn’t really have any computer art classes, so I self-trained and figured out how to do some things. And when I went to Marywood, I learned a lot more.

So, you’ve now been doing it for a long time.
It’s about 10 years now. I do freelance graphic design, social media and publicity. I help a few local businesses make their promotional flyers and pretty much anything they need. It’s a personal business that I run. Even as I was starting, in high school, I would run downtown and go into businesses and ask if they needed a flyer or a business card, because I knew I needed to build my portfolio even to get in to college. I really didn’t have anything other than traditional art, and I knew I needed some good print pieces and maybe even some web stuff. I was doing all of this work pro bono, because they judged you on your portfolio, and if I didn’t have anything, I wasn’t going to get into school.

So, even as a teenager, you really hustled. After 10 years, what do you still enjoy about it?
I just love the ability to communicate with images in the best way possible and just create something really eye-catching. I also like communicating with a client about the best way that they can make their look be super distinct from other places, in a business sense, with a more creative graphic design. Take shapes, for instance. As a graphic designer, I don’t always look at typography and fonts as typography and fonts. I look at them as shapes. And you can play around with them on a canvas or an art board and just turn it into art. You can set a mood and set a theme.

Can you tell us a little about your work as an event coordinator?
I like providing things for Scranton to do, and they are usually music- and art-based. One is Grrrls Night, which are sporadically run events featuring an all-female lineup of musicians, comedians and poets. These are held at Ale Mary’s, and the next one is Sept. 15. Another is Hallowfest, which is usually held at Nay Aug Park. It’s a Halloween-themed music festival featuring several different local acts as well as vendors. This year’s festival will actually be held at the Irish Wolf Pub on Oct. 27. We usually have a variety of punk and metal bands play. And another is the Scranton Zine Fest, which is a celebration of handmade publications and artwork. People come in from the tri-state area as well as from NEPA. It occurs every June, and next year will be our eighth year.

What do you enjoy in your free time?

I manage a local metal band, Earthmouth, and make promotional material for them, like shirts and patches. And I do that for a lot of the local bands. My long-term goal is to create a design studio that provides band merchandise for local bands. Growing up here, the music scene was super important to me. Venues that allowed the under-21 (crowd) really shaped my outlook, and my parents were really musical people, too.

Who are some of your all-time favorite musical artists?
Joy Division, the Smiths, the Adicts, the Ramones, the Misfits, Bauhaus, Van Halen and Pink Floyd. Typically, I like ’60s and ’70s type of stuff. Back in the ’80s, my uncle was also in a local band, so I’ve also grown up around hair metal.

Favorite city?
Philly.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
There’s so much I love. The small-business culture, and how people really try to start things. I get inspired when people try, on their own, to do things. I like that new bands are always being formed and trying to put on shows for young people. Once, in high school, I did a project on all of the different architecture in Scranton. I love the history.

All-time favorite movie?
“Sybil ” and “Annie Hall.”

All-time favorite TV show?
“Seinfeld.”

Favorite holiday?
Halloween.

Favorite food?
Falafel. It’s a vegetarian dish.

Favorite book or author?
William Faulkner and Willa Cather.

Any pets?
A cat, Sadie.

Biggest pet peeve?
People that complain about things but don’t do anything about it.

Guilty pleasure?
Gin and tonic. But I’m not guilty about it. (Laughs)

Is there anything about you that might surprise people?
I have social anxiety. I don’t have a problem with public speaking or anything like that, but I do get really nervous about being in crowds. It’s claustrophobic type stuff. I get a little antsy and want to get out of there.

Who, if anyone, helped guide you toward a career in art and graphic design?
I was really touched by my art teacher from middle school, Robert Boland, who passed away a few years ago. He was actually my mom’s art teacher, too. He was such an eccentric character and was really compassionate, and he always told me I was going to go far. There was a certain sincerity to him. He really had an impact on me, and often, at my daily job, I think about him.

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at alankstout@comcast.net

Photos by Emma Black

 

Up Close – Heidi Palazzari

Up Close – Heidi Palazzari

Heidi Palazzari owns and operates Sanderson Place Spa & Salon, Scranton. The business has operated for 48 years, and Palazzari bought it 18 months ago. Palazzari is a native of Blakely and a graduate of Valley View High School and Empire Beauty School. She also is a member of the Green Ridge Business Association. She and her son, Julian, 6, and daughter, Mia, 5, live in Peckville.
Meet Heidi Palazzari …

You’re 34, and you’ve worked at Sanderson Place since you were 16. That’s more than half of your life, so it’s obviously something you knew you wanted to do at a young age. What made you first want to become a stylist? In school, I was always artistic, and there really weren’t many opportunities with art other than computer graphics. So even when I was really young, I was doing my friends’ hair. I was always doing blonde, summer, beachy hair. I was always drawn to that, and I always wanted to try and create that myself. And I still love it.

What led to you buying Sanderson Place?
I was 20 years old, and I knew I was going to be the owner. It’s weird, but I really did, so I kind of willed my way to do it. I was about 24 when I went to my boss at the time and told her that I was interested, if she was ever going to sell it. And she said, “Heidi, wait until you’re 30.” So I waited, and then I got pregnant, and I had to wait some more. But it happened.

After all of these years, what do you still enjoy about it the most?
The smiles on peoples’ faces when they leave. I love the beauty industry. I love when people come in not feeling so hot and leave feeling fantastic. I love that. I’ve always loved it. Smelling good. Looking good. It appeals to me.

What is your particular forte within the style industry?
Color theory. I was always a blonde fanatic, and that’s kind of hard to achieve. I love to get the perfect blonde, and it’s hard to do. But I was drawn to that. Most of my clients have long blonde hair. That’s what I do.

Tell us a little about your grand-reopening, which is set for Sept. 30.
The salon has been here 48 years. It’s my turn to kind of flip it and bring it up to date. It’s an older business, and it needs to be revamped and get a facelift for 2017. We’re painting and getting new surfaces. The staff is getting bigger. It’s expanding.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Hanging out with my girlfriends. Going for a drink. Going to any type of concert and listening to music. I love music.

Who are some of your favorite artists?
Dolly Parton, Justin Bieber, Pearl Jam, the Beatles, the Notorious B.I.G. I’m all over. I love it all.

Do you follow sports?
The Eagles.

Favorite movies?
“Silver Linings Playbook,” “Into the Wild” and “The Godfather.”

Favorite TV show?
“Mad Men” and “The Office.”

Favorite city?
Toronto.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
The people. The locals. It’s homey. You know everyone. It’s comfortable.

Favorite book or author?
“Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer.

Favorite holiday?
The Fourth of July.

Favorite food?
Everything. (Laughs) But if I had to pick one, hummus. And Lebanese food.

Biggest pet peeve?
People who move slow. People that talk slow. It bothers me. (Laughs)

Favorite quote or catchphrase?
“Silence is golden.”

Is there anything about you that might really surprise people?
I think I always surprise people. I’m kind of mouthy. (Laughs) But I’m kind of an open book. I think people know me. There’s nothing I’m hiding.

Have you had a moment in your life, or a time in your life, that has helped shape you or define you as a person?
If it wasn’t for those women that I worked at the salon with when I was 16, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. I was raised by 20 moms. And they changed my life. Other than my own mother, of course, they pretty much raised me. That was a pivotal, life-changing moment for me. I found my niche. I knew immediately where I was supposed to be.

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at alankstout@comcast.net

photos by Emma Black

Up Close – Mike Walton

Up Close – Mike Walton

Mike Walton is a professional DJ and is the owner and operator of Mike Walton Entertainment. The company specializes in weddings, birthday and graduation parties, proms and corporate events. He was voted “Best Wedding DJ” in the Electric City’s “Best of 2016” readers’ poll. Walton is a native of Scranton and attended of Scranton Technical High School and Johnson College, where he received an associate degree in architectural drafting and design. He and his wife, Debra, live in Old Forge.
Meet Mike Walton …

How long have you been a DJ?
I say “over 20 years” to emphasize the experience factor, but it was actually 1984 when I started, so we’re looking at 33 years.

What inspired you to want to do it? What was it about DJ work that first drew your interest?
I didn’t want a real job. (Laughs.) While I was going to school, I wanted study time. I figured if I worked as a DJ on the weekends, I’d probably make as much if I worked at a pizza shop five nights a week. My sister worked at Specialty Records, so I could buy albums for $1. I built up my record collection like crazy, and a started buying all of these things that I didn’t know anything about. The music that I had to play was different from what I used to listen to. I used to listen to AC/DC, Van Halen and Aerosmith, and when I started deejaying, it was Madonna and Taylor Dayne. And once I saw the reaction at an event, of how people reacted to that music, it drew me to it even more. I was doing the nightclubs for three or four years, but when I did my first wedding, it was, “Forget about it.” From that point on, all I wanted to do was weddings. I just fell in love with it.

You and your staff do more than 300 events a year. After 33 years, what do you still enjoy about it?
I still enjoy working with clients and making their events personal. And I enjoy everybody on the dance floor. There’s a great feeling when it’s a great wedding. It gives you a sense of accomplishment — that you did something great for these people.

Who are some of your favorite musical artists?
Michael Bublé. And some of the rock and roll classics still have a heavy influence on my life. But there’s also Sinatra. Going back to that music, I’ve realized how tremendous it was. We just want to a jazz festival in Montreal and saw John Pizzarelli. And I love lounge acts, like Pink Martini, that offer such a great alternative type of music. And, of course, dance music. Any of the new dance music is fantastic.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
We like to go to New York City a lot. We love New York City. We got married in New York City, and it was one of the best experiences of our lives. We do Broadway a lot and fine dining. Our type of vacation is not to sit on the beach and chill out. We like to see as many things as we can. And New York City is one of the best places to do that. Every time you go there it can be a brand new experience. Ballroom dancing is also a big part of my life. I teach it. It’s part of my business and something I offer to my clients.

All-time favorite movie?
“Goodfellas.”

All-time favorite TV show?
“Seinfeld.”

Besides New York, what is your favorite city?
Austin, Texas. Austin is No. 2 because what New York City is to Broadway, Austin is to music. And we love Austin.

Favorite vacation spot?
The south of France.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
It’s in the middle of everything. We don’t have to jump on a plane to go to New York or Philadelphia or the ocean. And there’s a lot of resurgence in our own area, and it’s close to a lot of resurgence in other areas. The weather can be a challenge, but I like the mix of everything.

Favorite food?
Grilled Octopus.

Favorite holiday?
Definitely Christmas. Decorating our house … we were even in the newspaper one year, though my wife will not allow me to go over the edge. (Laughs.) She’s definitely the “yang” to my “yin.” DJs tend to go over the top with everything, but she’d definitely reeled me in.

Any pets?
Two cats: Mario and Giorgio. And we’ll soon be adopting a Labrador, Lupa.

Favorite quote or catchphrase?
For my business, it’s “Expect the best” and “You only have one chance to do it right.”

Favorite book or author?
“A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman.

Biggest pet peeve?
When mediocrity is acceptable. When people think that things that are mediocre are OK, whether it be with restaurants, entertainment, government or anything. I want things to be of a higher quality. We should all want that.

In addition to spinning music at events, you’ve also been a ring announcer at boxing events, been on parade floats, set up photo booths and have hosted “Game Show Trivia.” Is there anything about you, in addition to all of that, which might surprise people?
In June, I was 24 years sober. Twenty-four years of sobriety equals a beautiful life. From the things that I did in my life, I’m just amazed that I’m still here. Friends that knew me back then are astonished and proud of my accomplishments — to be where I’m at, and have a business, and have people work for me, and to be out in the public eye. I’m actually also the one who is surprised. What’s funny is when I got sober, I thought, “How am I going to be a wedding DJ now? How is anybody going to have any fun with me? How am I going to have any fun? I have to be enjoying what I’m doing to make other people enjoy it.” And three weddings in, I’m on the middle of the floor lying on my back singing “Love Shack,” with a bunch of people lying there next to me, I said, “I think I’m going to be alright.”

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at alankstout@comcast.net

 

photos by Emma Black

Up Close – James Barrett

Up Close – James Barrett

James Barrett is a musician and songwriter. He recently released his third album, “Twenty.” He has performed at clubs such as Ale Mary’s, Smiler’s, Adezzo and Andy Gavin’s. Barrett is a native of Clarks Summit and is a graduate of Abington Heights High School. He is employed by Caravia Fresh Foods in Clarks Summit and lives in Clarks Summit.
Meet James Barrett …

You’re only 20 years old, yet you’ve already released three albums. When did you first start writing songs?
I started writing when I was 11 or 12. They were obviously really bad. What can a 12 year old write about? (Laughs.) It really didn’t start clicking until I was probably about 16, and I’ve been doing it ever since. I probably have hundreds of songs written, I just don’t use them because I don’t think they’re up to the level of the ones that I release.

What inspires you to write?
Usually, it’s when I’m feeling an emotion that’s very present or I’m feeling an emotion that’s very strong that I’ll try to write about it. Unfortunately, most of the time, I’m not very good at writing songs when there a positive times in my life. I get happy, and I don’t want to. I usually end up writing when there’s something wrong. (Laughs.) My best songs usually come out when I’m upset about something, but that’s just because I feel strongly about whatever’s bothering me.

Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
The Gaslight Anthem were a big influence. And The Menzingers, from Scranton. And I grew up listening to a lot of my dad’s music, like the Beatles, the Stones, and Van Morrison, because he was always playing them in his car. My dad also played music, and my brother is a drummer — he plays in my band, Embera, so I was always around music growing up.

Does your band also do original material?
Yes. It started when I was a sophomore. I just wanted to write heavier music that I couldn’t play by myself. We released stuff when I was in high school and we’ve just recorded some more songs. After I wrote a solo record that did really well, I started focusing on that more than the band, but I like to do both.

Outside of music, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I like to watch TV. And I have four dogs that I hang out with a lot. And I like to be outside, just sitting on my porch or on my deck.

Do you follow sports?
I love the Dallas Cowboys. I love Dak. I love Zeke. I think they’re on to something good.

All-time favorite movie?
Either “The Nightmare Before Christmas” or “Sweeney Todd.”

Favorite TV shows?
“The Office” and “Lost.”

Favorite food?
I’ve been a vegetarian since 2008, and I love Eden: A Vegan Café in Scranton. I get their meatball sub. It’s my big thing.

Favorite holiday?
Halloween.

Favorite city?
I love New York, but I don’t go enough. I’m always in Philly, so I’ll go with Philly, since I’m there all the time.

Favorite vacation spot?
I don’t vacation, but if I could choose, it would be somewhere like Vermont. Somewhere outside, in nature, where it’s not super-hot. I’m not a big fan of the beach, but anywhere interesting. Maybe Nashville.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
I like that there’s a lot of trees. And I like that there are a lot of good bands from this area.

Guilty pleasure?
This is going to sound crazy, but I have a pretty bad back. I’ve been going to a chiropractor since I was 16. And so when it’s late at night and my back is killing me and I want to feel better, I watch videos of chiropractor therapy of people getting their bones adjusted. I love seeing people that are in a lot of pain and they can’t move a certain part of their body, and they get adjusted, and their neck is straightened out. To me, it’s very interesting.

But that doesn’t help your back?
No, it doesn’t help my back. (Laughs.) But I find comfort in knowing somebody else is getting help.

Biggest peeve?
People that chew with their mouth open and people who wear sunglasses inside.

Is there anything about you that might surprise even your friends?
When I was in fifth grade, I had a friend who bought a unicycle, and I thought it was the coolest thing, so I bought a unicycle. I was 11 when I learned how to ride it, and I can still do it today, I just don’t do it. It one thing to see an 11 year old doing it, but when I’m 20, with facial hair, I don’t think people want to see me riding unicycle around Clarks Summit. (Laughs.)

Have you had an event in your life, or a person in your life, that has had the greatest impact on you and has helped shape you into the person you are today?
My dad. My dad, when I was growing up, always played guitar and I was just constantly surrounded by music. And because of my brother drumming, I started playing bass, and then I taught myself guitar. And every time I play at a bar, my dad is always there. It definitely has to be my dad.

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at alankstout@comcast.net

Up Close – Tami Prall-Nasser

Up Close – Tami Prall-Nasser

Tami Prall-Nasser is a client advocate for Cigna Health Insurance. She also is a member of the Junior League of Scranton. Prall-Nasser is a graduate of West Scranton High School and Keystone College, where she earned an associate degree in hotel and restaurant management and a bachelor’s degree in business management. She and her husband, William, live in South Scranton.
Meet Tami Prall-Nasser …

You’ve been with the Junior League of Scranton for six years. What was your inspiration for first getting involved with the organization?
My sister-in-law was involved the year before I had joined, and every year, during your first year, you do a project. My husband co-owns the Backyard Ale House, and after her project, she and her friend showed up with these fun shirts that said “Know Me” on them. I asked what that meant, and she said it was their Junior League Project. She explained that Junior League, which has been around for 76 years, is an organization of like-minded women who do things for the community, and that “Know Me” was their project. It was an art project, where they worked with the United Neighborhood Centers, and it was about positive expressions through art. Kids expressed themselves through poems, paintings and songs. I said, “That sounds great. How do I get involved?” I went with them to the Junior League annual dinner, met all of the women and joined that fall. And it’s been one of the best choices that I’ve made.

Your employer, Cigna, has been very supportive of your work with the Junior League and it’s become a very big part of your life. What do you enjoy about it the most?
I meet so many people. And I’m also involved, through the Junior League, with other organizations and have had opportunities to work on other projects that I’d never thought I’d be involved with. Marley’s Mission is one of them, which offers equine therapy for children that have experienced trauma. The Blue Ribbon Gala is their biggest fundraiser. And, two years ago, I also did my own fundraiser, “The Beards of Scranton,” which benefited the Catherine McAuley Center. Junior League has given me the opportunity to develop myself and my community and use the my skills.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love exercising. I love sports. Yoga. Running. I enjoy any type of high-impact workout. And anything outdoors — winter, spring, summer or fall.

Who are some of your favorite musical artists?
I’m a lifelong fan of the Counting Crows. I also like Pearl Jam, Ryan Adams and the Grateful Dead. And I’ve seen Phish a few times.

Do you follow sports?
My brother, 10 years ago, played professional football. He played with the New York Jets for a year, so I was a Jets fan for a while. But now I’ve moved over the Green Bay Packers, because my husband is a Packers fan.

All-time favorite movie?
“Titanic.”

Favorite TV show?
“Game of Thrones.’

Favorite city?
I love Philadelphia. And my second favorite is San Francisco.

Favorite vacation spot?
Any beach, as long as there’s sand.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
I like that it’s close to larger cities like New York and Philadelphia, and that there’s also a lot to do here. And that there is a great sense of family and a great sense of community.

Favorite foods?
Cheese. Peanut butter. Chocolate. And ranch dressing.

Favorite holiday?
Halloween. I love getting dressed up.

Any pets?
A dog, Otis. He’s a white Golden Retriever.

Biggest pet peeve?
People who complain and yet don’t try to make a change or make the situation better.

Guilty pleasure?
Popcorn.

Favorite book or author?
I love the “Harry Potter” series. And my favorite author is Christopher Moore. I’ve read all of his books. He’s hilarious.

Is there anything about you that might really surprise people?
When people first meet me, from what I’m told, they get a really different impression of me. They think I’m this proper person, but I can trash talk. I’m from West Side, as we call it, so I’m a little bit dirty, too. (Laughs.)

Have you had an experience in your life that has really helped shape you or define you as a person?
Joining the Junior League … it brought something out of me. I can be quiet, but if I’m really passionate about something, I go at it at 100 percent. Joining the Junior League really opened me up to lots of opportunities that I may have missed. It’s made me passionate about volunteering and wanting to help others. My favorite quote is from Gandhi: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” And I try to live by that motto.

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at alankstout@comcast.net

Up Close – Jesse Faatz

Up Close – Jesse Faatz

Jesse Faatz is a freelance photographer specializing in event and marketing photography. He is also the event coordinator at Montage Mountain Resorts. Faatz is a native of Blakley and is a graduate of Valley View High School. He studied IT and graphic design at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. He and his wife, Staci, live in Taylor.
Meet Jesse Faatz …

When did you first discover your love for photography?
My father was a professional photographer on the side when I was growing up, back when film was still popular. Through the years, I was always exposed to it. I always liked to help him set up for studio portraits and just be a part of it. I would basically be his little helper. Years later, I got into graphic design, and I started doing some design for local clients — mostly bands — and I was being provided with some photos that weren’t the most professional. Maybe a friend snapped it for them, or something like that, and I had one or two bands ask if it was something I could help out with. My father had recently purchased a digital camera, and being an old-school film photographer, he had trouble learning the settings. So he kind of passed it along to me and said, “Can you help me figure this out?” And that’s really where my love for photography really blossomed. I took on a couple of band shoots and seemed to do OK with it, and I was able to integrate the photography into the design side. Fast forward a year or so, and I kind of lost interest in the design side and went full into the photography.

You have photographed a lot of concerts, especially at Montage Mountain. What is it that you enjoy the most about photographing live music? And at what other venues have you worked?
I like to call myself a musician, because I like to dabble on the drums and the guitar, so I‘ve always been interested in music on that end. And not being able to really excel on the guitar or on drums, it was basically the next closest thing that sometimes put me right onstage. I’m currently the house photographer for the Pavilion at Montage, for the PPL Center in Allentown, and I do some house photography at the Kirby Center. And LiveNation will bring me down to places like the Wells Fargo Center and a couple of other festivals that they have in Philadelphia to help out on their official coverage teams.

Who is your favorite national artist that you’ve ever photographed?
Pearl Jam. It was the opportunity of a lifetime to be able to shoot them. And coming out of that shoot, somehow my images got into the band’s hands and landed on the landing page of their official website. My name was there, and four of my photos were featured right on their homepage. It was very humbling, after years of work, to not only be able to shoot one of my favorite bands but also have the band using my images, sharing them on Instagram, on Facebook and on their webpage. It was very humbling and kind of still gives me goose bumps to this day.

What do you enjoy the most about working at the Montage ski slope and water park?
I’m a part of an amazing team. My supervisor has taught me so much over the past two years and I’ve really grown as a marketing professional. And being able to work with our team has just really brought it home. I grew up skiing Montage. One of my first jobs was actually there in the rentals department. Now in the event coordinator position, in addition to all of the winter events that we do, I’ve been able to put on some great beer festivals and wine festivals and adult swim nights. I’ve basically done nothing but broaden my skills since I’ve been here, and that’s directly attributed to Jeff Slivinski, the director of marketing.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I get very little free time. (Laughs.) I really like to work. I’m full-time at Montage Mountain Resorts and doing the photography on the side, I’m also involved in some weddings and editing. But when I do get a little bit of free time, I’m usually enjoying the day working in the yard with my wife.

Besides Pearl Jam, who are some of your favorite musical artists?
I’m a big fan of Cabinet. All of the guys and their management are almost like family to me. I’ve been with them for four or five years now, shooting as many shows as I can. Lately, I’ve also been a big fan of Bruno Mars. His style, his charisma and his talent impress me. I’m also a Grateful Dead guy and I try to see all of the reincarnations, whether it be the Dead, or Bob by himself, or Phil Lesh & Friends. And lately, Turkuaz has been big on my playlist.

Do you follow sports?
I’m an Eagles fan.

All-time favorite movie?
Probably the “Beverly Hills Cop” series or anything early Eddie Murphy.

Favorite TV show?
Recently, it’s been “Mountain Men.”

Favorite food?
Pizza. I can eat pizza every day of the week.

Favorite holiday?
Halloween.

Favorite city?
I’d have to say Philly. LiveNation is kind enough to bring me down there a couple of times a year, and I basically have another extended family down there that I stay with. When I go to Philly, I work with a team of 8 to 10 other photographers, and it’s great to be welcomed. And we all push each other to make the best images. It’s really a joy and a pleasure.

Favorite vacation spot?
Anywhere where there’s a mountain with snow.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
Family. And I love the weather. I love the fact that we have four seasons, and that we get to enjoy a couple of months of winter, and have a beautiful summer, and we have a great fall and spring.

Any pets?
Two cats, Theo and Jerry.

Is there anything about you that might surprise even your friends?
My mom owns a dance studio, and I was actually a trained dancer for 18 years and taught dance for four years. I lot of people don’t know that about me, but back in high school and the middle school I used to get picked on about it. But it’s actually what brought me the wife that I have today. I’ve known her since I was two years old because she started dancing at my mom’s studio. We were friends until we were about 16, and then we ended up being a couple, and we’ve been together ever since.

Have you had a defining personal moment? Something that has shaped you into the person you are today?
My parents letting me discover things for myself. They’ve always tried to guide me down the right path, but at the same time, my folks have always let me take the leap and learn from my mistakes. I really attribute who I am today to how my parents raised me and the freedom that they gave me. As far as a defining moment for my career, I would have to say it was the first Peach Music Festival that hit Montage. That’s basically how I got my start shooting for LiveNation and being a concert photographer. I volunteered to shoot the first Peach Festival for a small little newspaper called Our Town Lackawanna. I didn’t even get paid for it. I was just so stoked to have my camera out and be shooting music that I loved. An intern from LiveNation saw me running around between both stages, came up to me and asked what I was doing with my pictures. I explained that the paper I was shooting for would probably only run a handful of them, and I was able to pass some of the others on to LiveNation. From then on, it’s been history. And quite a fun ride.

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at alankstout@comcast.net

Up Close – Patrick Kwiatkowski

Up Close – Patrick Kwiatkowski

Patrick Kwiatkowski is a professional artist and illustrator. His work can be found on the Facebook page for Jeweled Moon and on Instagram under @JeweledMoonArt. He also works for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1319. Kwiatkowski is a native of Old Forge and is a graduate of Old Forge High School. He received an associate degree in graphic design from Luzerne County Community College. He has a daughter, Molly, 8, and lives in Moscow.
Meet Patrick Kwiatkowski …

Can you tell us a little about your background as an artist? It would seem that, in recent months, it’s become a very nice part of our life and a very big part of your life.
I’ve always drawn. I’ve always done things for people. And it just seemed like I’d put it on the back burner for so long, and now I’m opening up to it. I went to New York for about a year and I tried working in graphics, and I worked as a freelance artist. And I guess the novelty wore off, and I moved back home, and I just got back to life. And now here I am, years later, doing all kinds of different things that I never thought I’d be drawing. For the last six months I’ve been illustrating finer art … oil paintings, acrylics, water colors, inks and everything in between. And it seems to be taking off. I’m making prints and people are buying them.

What inspires you to create art?
Actually, my art has been inspired by my taste in music. I was always a Deadhead. I guess you can call me a hippie. I used to follow Phish around and saw hundreds of shows. When my daughter was born, I had to move away from that to be Dad, but now that she’s getting a little older, that freedom is starting to come back a little bit, and I’m actually including her with a lot of the music. And that’s what a lot of my art is about. It’s about the music, and what inspires me, and what drives me, and what makes me think. Eastern philosophy. Alan Watts. It gives me a creative process to draw.

Can you give us an example of how music has inspired a piece of your work?
I just did a Janis Joplin piece a few months ago, and what inspired it was a Grateful Dead song written about her after she died. It’s called “Bird Song,” and there is a line, “I’ll show you snow and rain,” and I made that a big part of it. My art is inspired by music because I feel without music, life would be meaningless. And everybody has their own genre and what they enjoy.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I spend most of my free time with my daughter. We go swimming in a creek behind the house or take nature walks. Things like that. I just recently taught her how to play chess.

You mentioned the Grateful Dead and Phish. Any other musical favorites?
It’s definitely the jammy bands, but I also like country/rock. And string-band stuff, like Still Hand String Band. And Tom Waits, Flogging Molly, the Pogues, Led Zeppelin … I’m all over the board. I can listen to polka and be happy, as long as it’s pretty noise.

Beatles or Stones?
Oh, man … that’s not fair. (Laughs.) They’re both so wonderful. But as difficult as it may be, if I had to pick one, I’ll say the Beatles. And that’s tough, because I love the Stones, too.

Any hobbies?
I buy local art. I just bought a print from Brittany Boote. She’s very talented.

All-time favorite movie?
“The Big Lebowski.” I’m an ordained minister of The Church of the Latter-Day Dude. I have my certificate at home. (Laughs.)

Is that a real thing?
It is. And I had to have it.

All-time favorite TV shows?
“Roseanne,” “Friends” and “Seinfeld.”

Favorite cities?
New York. New York is beautiful. And Baltimore.

Favorite vacation spot?
Virginia Beach.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
The people. I love it here. I grew up here. There are such well-knitted communities. Everybody seems to know everybody. It’s a northern area with a touch of southern hospitality. Yeah, everybody has their moments, but in the end, they’re good people. I love them.

Any pets?
A dog, Gladys, and a cat, Ed. And they both came with those names. They were rescues.

Favorite holidays?
Christmas is fun. Family and friends and the warmness of it. And St. Paddy’s Day as well, because it’s a time when our whole area celebrates.

Biggest pet peeve?
I try to let a lot roll off my back. It’s a zen thing. But I guess it would be littering, or people being ignorant, and not taking care of each other or the environment.

Is there anything about you that might really surprise people?
My daughter got involved in community theater with the Phoenix Performing Arts Center in Duryea. They’re just wonderful people, and sometimes they needed adults to be in parts, and they would ask. And so I did it, and I found out that I enjoyed acting, which is another form of art. The second time I was asked, it was for a production of “Billy Elliot.” It’s about a boy during the Margaret Thatcher years in England who wanted to be a dancer, but his dad wanted him to be a boxer. And I got to play the father. It was a serious role where I couldn’t ham it up or anything. And I found out that I could sing, and again, that I enjoyed acting. And so, I surprised myself. I think I surprised myself more than other people.

Have you had a moment in your life, or a time in your life, that had helped shape you into the person you are today?
Yes. And it’s been recently. It’s the reason I got into my art. It’s the reason I got back into music. I guess maybe you spend half of your life preparing to be the person you’re going to be and you spend half preparing to take the big dirt nap. But Buddha called it an “awakening.” Alan Watts says it’s when you open your and eyes and ears and say, “I get this. I understand my place in the universe.” And that taught me to live in the now. And I don’t think I ever did that before. I think I always lived in the past, with decisions that I made, and in the future, with anxiety over what was going to happen. Today, I just enjoy the moment. I enjoy the now. The purpose of life is to live it.

Up Close – Jonathan Reckless

Up Close – Jonathan Reckless

Jonathan Reckless is the owner and operator of 3 Jacks Burger Bar in Dunmore, which opened seven months ago. Reckless, a native of Dunmore, is a graduate of Bishop O’Hara High School and received an associate degree from Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He and his wife, Kaitlin, have a son, Jackson. They live in Dunmore.
Meet Jonathan Reckless …

What first inspired you to open 3 Jacks Burger Bar?
It’s just something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Working in the business, you always feel you can do it better than the other guy. It’s not always true, but you think you can. (Laughs.) And I guess I got tired of making money for everybody else. I always felt I had had ideas, and I always wanted to be able to kind of do my own thing, do things the way I wanted them to be done and make a claim for myself.

Why burgers?
I actually had a lot of different ideas. But I always felt you can’t do what you want to do anywhere. I’d be crazy to try to open an Italian restaurant or a pizza place in Dunmore. (Laughs.) But I had a couple of different ideas, and I always wanted to kind of hone in on something. Too many restaurants try to do everything, and I can’t keep my quality level high if I have to focus on too much. So I want to focus on one thing and be the best. And burgers were one of my ideas. And I felt the location we have was perfect.

What do you enjoy about it?
Not the hours. (Laughs.) It’s long hours. But there’s a sense of freedom and accountability. The people here work full-time, and they have a lot riding on it. And I enjoy the pressure, and it will hopefully provide a better life for myself. My bartenders make a good living and my kitchen staff does well. We’re all like a family that pulls together and makes things happen and gets things done.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I’m a gamer. I like to play video games. I don’t have a lot of time now with work and having a kid, but if he’s sleeping and I have a free hour while he’s napping, I’ll probably play a game or two.

Who are some of your favorite musical artists?
I’m kind of all over the place. I like good country, like Randy Travis, George Strait, Toby Keith and Tim McGraw. I can go with punk rock like the Ataris or early Offspring. And you can beat the classics like Creedence and Bruce. It’s whatever’s kind of driving me at the moment.

All-time favorite movie?
I like sports movies like “Bull Durham” and “Rudy.” And whenever a see “Shawshank Redemption” come on, I can’t help but watch it.

All-time favorite TV show?
“The Wonder Years.”

Do you follow sports?
I’m a big Giants fan and actually have season tickets. I’m also a Rangers and a Red Sox fan. I spent some time up in New England, so I guess that’s where that came from.

Favorite cities?
New York. And Chicago is a really good time. I also like Toronto and Montreal.

Favorite vacation spot?
I enjoy a nice quiet beach.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
It’s just home. My family is here. My friends are here.

Favorite holiday?
Christmas. I like the Christians season and the buildup with the Christmas songs. And I like the feeling in the air. I wish people felt like that year-round.

Any pets?
A cat, Scooter.

Favorite food?
It depends on what I’m feeling, but I could probably eat pizza almost every day. But I like to mix it up.

Biggest pet peeve?
I don’t like to repeat myself. And I’m more organized than what I let on, so un-organization really kind of aggravates me.

Is there anything about you that might surprise people?
I’m pretty outgoing towards people, but I’m not really comfortable with it. I’m not as personable as I portray myself, but I guess I can put the face on. (Laughs.)

Have you had a moment in your life that has helped shape you into the person you are today?
There’s always little things that you can look back on and kind of pinpoint. My buddy, Mike, and I … he ended up being a chef as well. And when we were younger, we always liked to try and make food. We’d used to try to make pizza and wing sauce when we were in grade school — maybe 10 or 12. We got our first restaurant job when I was 12 and he was 13. Not legal at all. (Laughs.) We didn’t even get paid — we just helped out at this small restaurant, but we just enjoyed the experience. And I think that probably really got us to where we wanted to be.

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at alankstout@comcast.net.

Up Close – Teddy Wielgopolski

Up Close – Teddy Wielgopolski

Teddy Wielgopolski, best known as Teddy Young, is a professional musician who will officially release his third album, “Movin’ On,” in July. He has been a steady performer in the clubs of Northeast Pennsylvania for the past 25 years and offers guitar lessons at Music Go Round in Wilkes-Barre Twp. Young is a native of Wilkes-Barre, grew up in Pittston and is a graduate of Bishop O’Reilly High School. He also studied art at Luzerne County Community College and music at Wilkes University. He has two sons, Jake, 16, (a guitarist) and Jude, 13 (a bassist). They live in Avoca.
Meet Teddy Young …

When did you first start playing the guitar?
I started when I was nine, and I’m 44 now, so it’s been 35 years. I was playing gigs at age 16 or 17. My dad started me off with piano lessons when I was six or seven, but that didn’t work out too good. (Laughs.) When I was nine, he asked if I was interested in guitar, and he bought me a little acoustic starter guitar, which I still have. When I was 12 or 13, I started to really put things together, musically, and started to really spend a lot of time at it. The first Led Zeppelin album was probably my biggest inspiration at the time.

Was that the album that also first took you on a journey into the blues?
Yes. There was a couple of Willie Dixon tunes on there, and it was just the sound of it. From there, I went on to discover Jimi Hendrix. And I also had a teacher along the way, Ray Delpriore — Stingray — who was a local blues musician, and he, of course, got me further into my search and discovery of Muddy Waters, Albert King, Freddie King, Albert Collins and B.B. King. At that time, which is also when I got to go on the road full-time, was also when Stevie Ray Vaughan had died, and Clapton came out with that blues record, “From The Cradle,” and it really shot the blues into mainstream rock. I remember hearing it on Rock 107 all the time. B.B. King was doing things with U2. And that lasted for a time. And that was the time that I was really trying to make my way out there.

Who are some of your all-time favorite artists?
I tend to go in a lot of directions. I do love the blues. I know a lot about it and consider myself a musicologist when it comes to a lot of that stuff because I’ve played it so long. But I also have a liking for certain jazz. One of my favorite guitar players is John Scofield. I also love Frank Zappa. And I love a lot of old R&B and funk. I think if you listen to my album, you hear a lot of those different influences.

When I think of guitarists from the ‘80s that were pioneering new ground, I think of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads. You already mentioned Stevie. Did you also listen to Eddie and Randy?
I love Eddie Van Halen. One of my favorite solos was “Hot For Teacher.” It starts off with that progression and then he just launches himself. My son Jake can play “Eruption” and Randy Rhoads solos. I’ve got chops, but not like the super speed-metal chops. (Laughs.)

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I like to be with my kids. And I love to cook. I am so much into cooking. I make my own pastas, pizzas and smoked briskets. Italian cooking is really my forte, and I’m a Polish guy. (Laughs) I could cook for 10 hours on a Sunday and be happy. It’s another art form for me.

Do you have any hobbies? Do you collect anything?
Guitars and amplifiers. They’re tools, but I still have a love for them. I play a Strat –— all the time — but I still have my Les Pauls.

All-time favorite movie?
“Taxi Driver.”

Favorite TV show?
I like to watch football.

Who are your favorite teams?
The Packers and the Steelers.

Who did you root for a few years back when they played each other in the Super Bowl?
That was the worst game because I couldn’t root for either of them. It was my two favorite teams, and I can’t say which one I love more. That was the worst Super Bowl ever. I didn’t know if I was excited or disappointed. I didn’t know what I was. (Laughs)

Favorite food?
Pizza.

Favorite place to vacation?
When I was on the road, I used to love to play at the Outer Banks in North Carolina for a whole week. That’s one of my favorite places.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
I love the area. I think it’s a great place to raise kids. For the most part, you don’t have a lot of the problems that you do in other areas. I love the food. I love the diversity, and I think there is a lot of diversity. And for me, in Avoca, I’m about three miles from Scranton and seven miles from Wilkes-Barre. For what I do, that is so ideal. And I’ve been all over, and musically, I think this area has some of the most talent, per capita, than anywhere in the country. And that goes for jazz, that goes for rock, that goes for blues … I truly believe that.

Favorite holiday?
Fourth of July.

Guilty pleasure?
I like to have a few beers.

Is there anything about you that might surprise people?
I’m pretty outgoing when I’m out, but I tend to be pretty quiet in my personal life. I tend me be very reserved. I love my home life. I enjoy my yard, and cutting my grass, and just being with my kids.

Have you had a moment in your life that has really helped shape you into the person you are today?
My father encouraging me and steering me towards music certainly defined me. Without that, I never would have picked up an instrument. My father never played, but he felt it was an important thing. That was career defining. And the other thing, as a person, would be my children. That completely changed my life forever. When you have kids, you realize you’ve never been so in love in your life. It’s an amazing thing.

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at alankstout@comcast.net

Up Close – Loreen Bohannon

Up Close – Loreen Bohannon

Loreen Bohannon is a professional sound engineer, specializing in front of house sound. She has worked with artists such as Cabinet, Rusted Root, Hailey Knox, Postmodern Jukebox and also has been on the road with Vans Warped Tour. In the past, she ran sound for Rock Street Music and worked as a radio DJ on 105 The River. She also served as the host of Party on The Patio at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Bohannon is a native of Sterling and is a graduate of Western Wayne High School. She studied technical theater, electrical engineering and English at Wilkes University. She lives at Lake Wallenpaupack.
Meet Loreen Bohannon …

When did you first realize that you wanted to work with live sound?
When I was about 16. I’ve been doing this since high school. I kind of started with Rock Street. They came into my school when Nancy Evans, who is now my adopted mom, was hired as the high school theater director. She came in and really changed around the whole program, and she brought in Rock Street to start doing our musicals. I was introduced to some of their guys — who are now good friends — and they said, “You can touch our stuff, but not until you know how to wrap a cable. And we’re not going to show you how to do it.” So I obsessed over learning how to wrap a cable, and the next time they came through I started helping them and I was the head of the stage crew. Until the last few years, it was just a job, but I’ve now realized, “This is my career. This is it. This is really what I want to do.” There’s nothing else I’ve gravitated towards.

By running front of house sound, you’re pretty much responsible for what an audience hears at a show. What do you enjoy about it the most?
There’s something tangible about the energy that’s created at a concert when everything is perfect. When I’m locked in and the band is on and the people are into it, there’s just this incredible energy that’s created that’s unlike anything else you’ve ever experienced. And there’s this one moment — and it’s for all of us — when you realize, “This is why I do what I do. This is it. This is that moment.” And it’s a very thankful moment, because yes, you’re doing what you love, but for all of the people, you’re creating a moment for them, and they’re going to remember that piece of music for the rest of their lives. You’re creating memories. And that’s a powerful thing … to be able to affect someone’s life like that. Because I know how much music affected mine.

Your work has you on the road quite a bit. Do you like it?
For the past two years, I’ve been touring almost full-time. I love the road. I thrive on the road. I’m not even out there yet as much as I want to be and I’m not yet doing the level of things that I want to be doing, which means I’m going to be out there even more. I read an interesting article that talked about what we do on the road, and how close it is to us being cavemen, where we move in a troop of 20 to 40 people, we have a singular goal, and we all have to work together despite whatever disadvantages can happen on any day. And we always have to complete our mission. I have to finish the show, everyday. No matter what obstacle comes up, it has to happen. And that’s really unique.

Who are some of your all-time favorite musical artists?
Sting. Pink. Billy Joel. Hailstorm. And right now I’m into Redeye Empire.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Reading and feeding my chipmunks.

You have chipmunks?
They’re all outside, but I have dozens of them near where I live. And they’re literally like domesticated. They come up to me and I pet their little heads and feed them peanuts. They’re adorable. They’re my little dudes, and they all have different personalities.

All-time favorite movie?
“Labyrinth.”

All-time favorite TV show?
“The 10th Kingdom.” In was an old TV mini-series.

Do you follow sports?
I’m a Yankees fan.

Any hobbies?
I collect a lot of books. I read a lot.

Favorite city?
I really like Nashville. And Portland, Oregon.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
The people that I’ve met. One of my favorite things about this area is when I was first coming up in this business, as a girl, most people didn’t care. Billy Kossuth from Rock Street music didn’t care. He’d give me the same work he’d give a guy and he’d expect me to be able to do it. Now that I’m older and look back on that, I think that’s amazing, because I’ve seen how much other women have struggled to get in.

Favorite food?
Cheese fries.

Favorite holiday?
Halloween.

Biggest pet peeve?
When people wrap cables the wrong way. And loud chewing.

Guilty pleasure?
Sitting in my underwear playing Diablo III and not talking to anyone.

Is there anything about you that might surprise people?
I’m a super nerd with things like “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter.” I also have extreme anxiety. It’s really bad, and it has contributed to a lot of debilitating problems with my confidence and my self-esteem in my life. And I’ve only recently, in my life, been able to sort that out. People see how confident I am, but until recently it’s pretty much all been an act. Behind what people see of me is a very shy and unsure girl who had a lot of bad stuff happen to her.

Have you had a moment or experience in your life that truly helped shape you into the person you are today?
There are a few. And they shaped who I am now and why I am so determined. And it starts when I was a kid and I was sexually abused. Also, my mother was beaten by my dad when I was child, and I remember all of it. But I never wanted to be a victim, and when I was 12 or 13 I had a breakdown, and I decide that I never in my life wanted to be a victim again. I did something called Young Marines, and I joined a Junior ROTC program, and I learned how to defend myself and how to fight, and how to pick myself up even when someone bigger than me knocked me down. My mom passed away when I was 16, and the events in my childhood allowed me to be able completely independent and support myself. I have tattoo on my shoulder, which I got when I was 18, and it’s a phoenix — to remind me to always rise up from the ashes.

photos by emma black
Up Close – Constantino Michael Siconolfi

Up Close – Constantino Michael Siconolfi

Constantino Michael Siconolfi, also known as “The Godfather,” is a professional DJ. He worked at the Woodlands Inn for 30 years, and plays music at private events and at several Pocono-area resorts. He also operates a computer repair business, Compuforge. Siconolfi is a native of Scranton and a graduate of Scranton Central High School. He later studied theatrical production and design as well as telecommunications at Penn State University. He lives in West Scranton.

Meet Constantino Michael Siconolfi …

When did you first realize that spinning records in dance clubs was something you wanted to do?
Prior to being a DJ, I was a drummer in a lot of garage bands. And what made me want to change over from playing in bands to being a DJ was the impact that it had on the crowd, with people having a good time, dancing and socializing. It was all about what the music did to the crowds. I wasn’t there for me. Never was. It was always about the end result: giving them a memory and giving them a good time. And now I’m pushing those memory buttons. The memories that I helped create 30, 25 or 20 years ago … now I get to go back and push them again. And that’s kind of fun.

Is there a particular era of music that you enjoy playing the most?
The ’80s – because of the different styles, and having watched the music reform itself after ’70s rock and ’70s disco and ’70s acoustic music. In the ’80s, they took some of those elements, and of funk and soul and disco, and created new music. A lot of ’80s pop, to this day, is influential due to the timelessness of the music.

What is that you enjoy most about being a DJ? After all of these years, when you head out to a club, what is it that you’re still looking forward to?
The lifestyle. The face of the ’80s wasn’t just the music. The clothing, the artists and the culture all melded into one big thing. The nightclubs were the Facebook of the ’80s. You had to go out to socialize and see what was going on. When I look back and play some of that music now, I try to see some of that culture in the club.

Who are some of your all-time favorite musical artists?
Prince, Styx and Earth, Wind & Fire. Styx because of the theatrics. Earth, Wind & Fire because of the soul and the funk. Prince because of his artistry.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Discovering new and different things with computers, art and music. With computers, it’s the latest applications and the latest graphics and the latest technology. I try to keep ahead of the curve. With music, I listen and learn about every facet of music that’s out there. I study fashion and trends.

Any hobbies?
I’m a record collector, and I also sell records around the world online, including ‘70s and ‘80s factory-sealed vinyl. I also paint with acrylic and oil. And I travel. Sometimes I’ll just hop in the car and not know where I’m going.

All-time favorite movies?
Ironically, “The Godfather.” Second would be all of the “Rocky” movies. Am I stereotyping myself? (Laughs.)

How did you get your nickname?
Back in ’84, I was working at a club at State College, and a bartender sort of did a typecast of me — from the way I look — as that typical Italian mobster. (Laughs.) So I asked, “Well, is there a drink to go with it?” and he said, “Yeah, there’s a drink called the Godfather,” which is Scotch and amaretto. And I grew accustomed to liking it and drinking it. So that supported the nickname.

Favorite TV shows?
“Game of Thrones” and “The Sopranos.”

Favorite food?
Any Lebanese dish. It’s healthy and I grew up on it.

Favorite city?
New York.

Favorite vacation spot?
Point Pleasant, Myrtle Beach or any beach.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
The families. And the way ethnicity intertwines with the neighborhoods and the roots of where everybody came from. I’m fascinated by that.

Guilty pleasure?
Binge watching programs on TV. I just sat and watched eight episodes of “Egypt.”

Biggest pet peeve?
Rudeness and arrogance. And that could be applied to anything from driving in traffic to cutting in line. Also, jealousy.

Your uncle, Monsignor Constantino V. Siconolfi, is a well known figure in Scranton, having founded the St. Francis of Assisi Kitchen. Are you close with him?
Yes, and he’s been a strong influence on my life since I was a kid. His family … my father and my uncle … their way of life was also in influence on how to be humble, to take care of others who are in need and stay out of the spotlight.

Is there anything about you that might surprise people?
I’m the oldest of eight children, six of whom are sisters. And I’m not 100 percent Italian. I’m part Lebanese. Also, I can’t see out of my left eye. I was born with a lazy eye, so seeing life through one eye is different. If I could have one wish, it would be to know what it was like to see out of two eyes. I’ve also met a lot of celebrities and have a lot of interesting stories about the celebrities that I’ve met, and just how normal they are.

Who has had the greatest influence on your life?
My mother. And my father. My father taught me how to survive on my own and not count on anybody else, and he trained me to grow up fast. He prepared me to survive in life when the chips were down. He taught me how to fix appliances. He taught me how to be a locksmith. He taught me how to fix just about anything that’s electronic or electric. He taught me how to a salesman. He helped pioneer a lot of things in my life. And he encouraged me.

UP CLOSE & PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at alankstout@comcast.net.

Up Close – CARRIE KIECZKAIJLO

Up Close – CARRIE KIECZKAIJLO

Carrie Kieczkaijlo is the owner and operator of Royal Rock Equestrian Center, located near Harveys Lake. The facility offers horse riding lessons, horse training and horse boarding. It also sells horses. Kieczkaijlo is a graduate of Dallas High School and Centanary College, where she received degrees in biology and equine management. She lives at Harveys Lake.
Meet Carrie Kieczkaijlo …

Royal Rock Equestrian Center is now in its 10th year. When did you first know that you wanted a career that would have you working with horses?
Always. My mom had told me stories about how she had a horse when she was younger, and she actually didn’t want me to get into horses. And I think that was partially because she didn’t want to feel as though she had pushed me towards it, and also because she knew there was no turning back. I don’t think she wanted to live vicariously through me, plus she knew it’s expensive and completely time-consuming. So she actually tried to keep me away from horses, and I did tap-dance and piano lessons and things like that. But she said that somehow, one day, for me, it was magically “Horses!” Also, when I was younger — like a lot of little girls — I wanted to be a veterinarian. And I remember going on a tour of Delaware Valley College, and we were talking to the veterinarians, and they told us that one of the things that people don’t think about is that it is not primarily happy work. It’s mostly sick and hurt animals and you do a lot of euthanasia. And I thought, “Well, the whole reason I wanted to do this was so I could work with horses. Why don’t I just work with horses?” And that was really when I decided this was my path.

What do you enjoy about it the most?
It’s incredibly gratifying. I love when I’m working with a student or a horse that’s having trouble with something, and then there’s that breakthrough. That moment is just super-gratifying. My big thing is also thinking outside the box, so if I’m working with a student who is not getting something, we just keep trying. I’m big on visualization. I’ll say, “Think of it this way,” or “Imagine this” until we get it. I also love being outdoors, and I have a lot of awesome students who have become like family. It’s unique in that I can really establish this complete one-on-one with my clients.

How many horses, on average, do you usually have at the facility?
Our average is around 20. Lately, it’s been around 24.

How many of those are actually yours, and not horses that you are boarding or have for sale?
We have around 10 or 11 horses that are here permanently, and that I’ll keep until the day they die. We have some that are training horses, and the goal is to flip them. But the ones that will be here forever, whether because they’re unsellable, or they’re rescues, or they’re my lesson horses that I owe my whole life to, is probably around 10 or 11. Which is a lot of horses. (Laughs.)

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Hiking and being outdoors. And I love to cook.

Any hobbies?
When I was in college, I collected vinyl albums.

Favorite music?
I’m really a punk-rock girl at heart. When I’m alone, I still gravitate towards punk, indie and even hardcore music. When I’m with people, I prefer to listen to ‘60s and the ‘70s. I love Billy Joel and I’m a huge Lynyrd Skynyrd fan. Anything from that era is awesome.

All-time favorite movie?
“The Princess Bride.” I can watch it over and over.

Favorite TV shows?
“Criminal Minds” and “Bob’s Burgers.”

Favorite city?
Usually when we travel, we’ll go to the middle of nowhere. But I like Ithaca a lot. It’s very me — farmers’ market and hippies and vegans everywhere. I also like Philadelphia. There’s a lot to do there. My sister used to live on the outskirts of the city, so it holds a lot of meaning to me.

Favorite place to vacation?
My family has vacationed to Chincoteague Island, Virginia, for as long as I can remember. Both my Mom and my sister have passed away, so that holds a lot of memories. Even though I’ve been there a million times, I still go there, and I’m happy to just be there.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
I love that we have so much diversity. You can walk down the street and you can see somebody from every income bracket, from every color … obviously it’s not a big city, but I know people from every walk of life. I also like that little bit of an “underdog” thing that we have going on. We’re hanging in there. We’ve kind of had some hard times, with floods and all of these things, and we just keep coming back. And that resonates with me and my life. And I think that’s how people in this area live. They just persevere.

Favorite food?
Anything ethnic. I love Japanese. I love Indian. Anything like that.

Favorite holiday?
Christmas. I love giving presents. And I love being together with my family and Christmas carols and all of that. It‘s wonderful .

Guilty pleasure?
Two Dots. It’s a game that I play on my phone when I can’t sleep.

Biggest pet peeve?
Dishonesty. And people that don’t put their shopping cart back at the grocery store. I have been known to push my shopping cart back and look at people vindictively and be like, “It’s not that hard.” (Laughs.)

Have you had an event in your life that, more than anything, has helped shape you into the person you are today?
The death of my mother. It definitely gave me an appreciation for the people in my life. My mother was sick for a long time, but it just instilled the concept that nothing lasts forever. And that certainly gave me an appreciation for living every day and making sure that people know how you feel about them. It also brought my family closer together, and it motivates me all the time to do better, be better, and make her proud.

Up Close – Shawn Caden

Up Close – Shawn Caden

UP CLOSE & PERSONAL
WITH ALAN K. STOUT

Shawn Caden is a professional musician and currently performs with the bands the Dishonest Fiddlers and Jung Bergo. Caden is a native of Clarks Summit and is a graduate of Abington Heights High School. He also studied audio engineering at Luzerne County Community College. He and his girlfriend, Kate O’Malley, have three children: Phaedra, 5; Aldous, 3; and Ignatia, nine months. They live in Honesdale.
Meet Shawn Caden …

You play guitar, mandolin, saxophone and keyboards. When did you first realize you wanted to become a musician?
When I was in grade school, in fifth grade, I started playing drums in the concert band. I have an older brother who was already into drumming, so I kind of fell into that. When I got to high school, in ninth grade, I picked up the guitar and got into the melodic end of things. And never looked back.

The two bands you’re currently playing with are both doing well. They’ve both recorded original music and each are building a nice following. Can you tell us a little about your work with each project?
With the Dishonest Fiddlers, I just got on board recently (with group founder Dave Brown.) I play mandolin, and I like bluegrass, and Dave writes a lot of original tunes. There’s a couple of festivals coming up that we’re playing, including the Susquehanna Breakdown. Jung Bergo has two CDs, and we’re working on the third. I have a home studio, and we’re doing some stuff there. The first CD was recorded with Bret Alexander at Saturation Acres, and the second CD was mostly recorded at my house. We’ll also be playing some festivals on the summer circuit.

Who were some of your biggest musical influences?
When I first started playing guitar, Pink Floyd was it. First was the grunge area — Nirvana and 311 — but once I started to really want to play guitar, it was David Gilmour. Then, I got into the jam scene, with Phish and the Grateful Dead, and that kind of snowballed on top of all that stuff.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Family stuff. I try to get them to play. I would love to have a house full of musicians. One can only hope. (Laughs.)

Any hobbies? Are you a collector?
Just musical stuff. I love effects pedals. And for whatever reason, friends of mine just dump instruments on my lap. So I have a lot of weird things. I have a zither. I have a rubab. I own two sitars, a harmonium and a Renaissance instrument called a crumhorn. It’s just weird stuff that you’d never see anywhere.

Favorite cities?
Philadelphia and New York. On the West Coast: Portland, Oregon.

Favorite place to vacation?
My family used to rent a house in North Carolina. That was always fun. Beach life for a week was a cool getaway.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
The change of seasons. They’re extreme, but I think I’d get bored living in the same atmosphere all the time.

All-time favorite movies?
Mel Brooks movies. And Monty Python.

All-time favorite TV show?
“Arrested Development.” It’s the most witty comedy I’ve seen. It’s a family you can relate to, but you’d never actually want to be related to those people. (Laughs.)

Favorite food?
I recently got into a more vegetarian diet. Veggie sushi is really good.

Favorite holiday?
Christmas. Everybody’s around. Everybody gets together.

Any pets?
Two dogs, Gryphon and Tyler.

Guilty pleasure?
Whiskey.

Biggest pet peeve?
Communication. Although I’m probably just as guilty as everybody else. But in the day and age of technology when it’s almost impossible not to stay in touch with somebody, communication is still always an issue.

Is there anything about you that might surprise even your friends?
I like a lot of Indian classical music. I’ve been playing sitar at my house. That’s an angle that not everybody knows. Other than that, not really. I’m a pretty honest person, to a fault. (Laughs.) Sometimes it gets me in trouble.

Have you had a defining personal moment?
Becoming a father. That’s a big one. I don’t feel the same as I ever had. An emotional rollercoaster. When my daughter was born, I couldn’t see through the tears. It was a life-changing event.

photos by emma black