Take home a local masterpiece  from Holiday Art Auction

Take home a local masterpiece from Holiday Art Auction

The community can bid on 32 pieces from regional artists in a variety of mediums at the annual Holiday Art Auction at AFA Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave.
Set for Saturday, Nov. 18, with cocktails at 6 p.m. and the auction at 7, it serves as the gallery’s largest fundraiser.
Tickets are $25 and include refreshments, light fare from local restaurants and acoustic music by Rich Jenkins.
Artists donate each piece up for grabs. Committee chair Nikki Moser said this year features two surprise pieces that will be wrapped in brown paper and not revealed until after someone wins each. There also will be pieces from young artists and lower price points so new bidders can be brave and take a shot at winning.
Moser insisted that one of the most fun parts of the night is the bidding.
“It’s always fun when people come with a full table,” she said. “To see that dynamic and people encouraging each other to bid, it’s a great time.” 
Chances for this year’s featured raffle item, “Flower Child #8,” a hand-cut paper collage created by Paul Plumadore, are $2 each or three for $5 and are available at the gallery. Guests do not need to be at the event to win the raffle piece.
Moser said all of Plumadore’s pieces are more than meets the eye.
“He has such a delicate sort of touch in terms of putting images together,” Moser said. “They seem like one thing on the surface, and once you really investigate, you understand the intricacies of how they’re almost stitched together in this way.”
Guests also can bid on experiences, such as a print-making workshop with Mark Ciocca, a letterpress outing with the Workshop owner Chris Medley or special services from local nonprofits, the Erie Lackawanna Dining Car Preservation Society and American Wine Society. Moser said the experiences were popular among bidders last year, and the committee expanded on options this time around.
“It’s a way to bring people into the arts in a different way than choosing an object,” she said. “With these experiences, you can get out and see and do what lots of area arts have to offer.”
Each element of the holiday auction combines to offer something for all interests and tastes, which serves the true mission of the event: engagement between artists and guests.
“It’s great fun. This fundraiser keeps doors open for the year,” Moser said. “And we really do everything we can to ensure everyone — artists and guests — have a lovely evening.”

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If you go
What: Annual Holiday Art Auction
When: Saturday, Nov. 18; cocktails, 6 p.m.; auction, 7
Where: AFA Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave., Scranton
Details: Event tickets are $25 and include refreshments, light fare and entertainment. Reservations are strongly suggested; call 570-969-1040. Raffle tickets are $2 each or three for $5 and may be purchased up to the time the winner is announced. Proceeds benefit the gallery.

Curiosity Shoppers: Roller derby team welcomes community for oddities market and match

Curiosity Shoppers: Roller derby team welcomes community for oddities market and match

It’s not your average flea market.
Roller derby league the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Roller Radicals presents Halloween Fest Oddities and Alternative Flea Market on Saturday, Oct. 28, giving guests a chance to shop for strange and unusual items.
The event takes place at the league’s headquarters at 4949 Birney Ave., Moosic. Doors open for the flea market at 10 a.m. with 60 vendors offering art, photography, horror crafts, pet items, bath and body products, taxidermy, jewelry, wreaths, vegan goods, tarot readings, sessions with a medium and more.
The event came from the Radicals’ collective love of all things creepy and horror, and it offers a way to showcase local artists and get to know the community, league president Brandy Ralston said.
“We love Halloween, and we wanted to incorporate that into whatever we did,” the Plains Twp. resident added. “This is a fun way to celebrate and meet our neighbors.”
Guests can listen to live music or grab a bite to eat at a regional food truck or from one of the food vendors. Costume contests start at noon with adult participants vying for the titles of scariest, funniest and most radical. Kids can get in on the fun, too, with a trunk-or-treat, face painting and a costume contest of their own. Pets can show off their best costumes as well. 
At night, 40 skaters from all over, including the Radicals, will compete in a roller derby scrimmage with a chilling twist: Jason versus the Campers, inspired by classic horror flick “Friday the 13th.”
“We have skaters coming from New York, New Jersey, Maryland,” Ralston said, adding space is limited for the scrimmage. “We threw out some other ideas, but ‘Friday the 13th’ seemed like it would be the most fun.”
The event will work as a networking event for prospective skaters. For anyone looking to join the league, open tryouts are set for January. Ralston encourages those interested to talk to league members on Saturday. 
Flea market entry is $2 at the door. If attending the scrimmage, the total cost is $5. All proceeds benefit the self-funded Radicals.
Halloween Fest also gives the Radicals a chance to meet residents and make their presence known. The league has been in the area for several years, but people are surprised to hear a roller derby league exists. A day out with food, unique art, goods and services, combined with spooky fun is exactly what the Roller Radicals are all about, Ralston said.
“We want people to come out and meet us and have a fun day,” she said. “It’s the perfect opportunity to welcome the community. Come over to our house.”

 

Red-hot heritage: Bonfire at the Iron Furnaces celebrates fall through cultural lens

Red-hot heritage: Bonfire at the Iron Furnaces celebrates fall through cultural lens

By: Meryl Paine and Gia Mazur

An annual autumn event will light up the dark with a towering flame to celebrate Scranton’s history, culture and more.
On Saturday, Oct. 21, from 6 to 10 p.m., the seventh annual Bonfire at the Iron Furnaces festival will feature food, live music and activities as it raises money for Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum, which oversees the Scranton Iron Furnaces, 159 Cedar Ave. Leading up to and during the annual bonfire lighting at 8:15 p.m., the Double “R” Twirlettes and Scranton Black Diamond Pipe Band will present a fire-twirling show.
“It’s a wonderful event, and through the years I’ve noticed such a growth,” said Kathleen Mercatelli, Twirlettes director. “It’s a really different event since we don’t get many opportunities to twirl fire.”
The Gaelic festival Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter, inspired the event’s creation. But in addition to honoring the area’s industrial heritage, the bonfire over the years “has grown into an all-encompassing cultural event,” committee chairman Brian Murphy said. It incorporated elements of traditional autumn and harvest festivals, such as Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, and the Indian festival Diwali, which people celebrate in part by launching fire lanterns.
“We always want to reflect those different cultures and how those different cultures engage and celebrate that,” said Bode Morin, museum and iron furnaces site administrator. “As the program evolves, we want to have a bigger reach and look more at who we are as a community, be more inclusive and celebrate our community as well.” 
Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door and free for children 12 and younger. Organizers encourage guests to buy their passes early at scrantonbonfire.com; the museum in McDade Park, 1 Bald Mountain Road, Scranton; and Electric City Trolley Museum, 300 Cliff St., Scranton.
Admission includes $5 in Bonfire Bucks, which guests can use for food, beverages and activities. And they will have plenty to choose from. Guests can celebrate the season with fall and regional favorite drinks, such as spiced cider, hot chocolate, beer and wine, and then chow down on food from Coney Island of Scranton, Terra Preta, Sweet Lush Cupcakery and more.
The festival also will feature performances across two stages by Irish Balladeers, cover band Light Weight and Creative and Performing Arts Academy of NEPA as well as fire hoopers and spinners. Guests can check out balloon artists, a jack-o’-lantern carving competition, tarot card readings, an arts and crafts tent, a bonfire sculpture by Brian Murray of Reclamation Industrial Furnishings and a large-scale art installation that highlights the standing stone blast furnaces.
Each year, the festival explores a different culture in its educational component, Morin said, and this time visitors can head to the cultural tent to learn more about the Irish and Welsh immigrants and the culture they brought to Northeast Pennsylvania.
In seven years, the bonfire has turned into a place where arts, culture, heritage and history meet, and Morin believes it will continue to grow with the community’s support.
“We’re really looking forward to (the festival),” he said. “To get to do this festival for the last seven years straight and always have such a great response from the community … it’s just a great, fun night.”

Fringe benefits – Annual festival spreads arts across Scranton

Fringe benefits – Annual festival spreads arts across Scranton

For a weekend, experience life on the fringe.
Scranton Fringe Festival takes to stages across the downtown now through Sunday, Oct. 1. The performing arts festival co-founded by Elizabeth Bohan and Conor O’Brien takes after the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which began in 1947 and whose model spread across the world.
In its third year, the Scranton festival contains more than 35 performances featuring artists from near and far across a variety of artforms, from dramas and comedies to experimental revivals to dance- and movement-based art. With so many things to do, see and experience, Weekend Times put together a guide to help navigate the sights and sounds of Scranton Fringe Festival. 

Must-see shows
Fringe co-founder Elizabeth Bohan suggested the shows you shouldn’t miss this weekend.
“White Rabbit Red Rabbit” is an unrehearsed piece written by Nassim Soleimanpour that requires no set and no direction. As a conscientious objector who refused to take part in mandatory military service, Soleimanpour was forbidden to leave his home country of Iran and used this isolation in writing the piece. The actors will receive the show’s script as they walk on stage, giving audiences a once-in-a-lifetime performance. Shows: Thursday and Saturday, Sept. 28 and 30, 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 1, 6 p.m., AFA Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave.
“What You Want,” a dance and movement piece presented by Alyssa Noble and Allie Pfeffer, follows two young people learning to work through their lives in spite of the other’s expectations and advice. Each choreographer created overlapping solos for the other but left enough room for the dancer to make her own decisions on stage. Shows: Saturday, Sept. 30, 5 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 1, 1 p.m., Peoples Security Bank Theater at Lackawanna College, 501 Vine St.
“Chris and Gavin’s Campaign for Broadway Spectacular” is a musical comedy about two out-of-work musical theater actors who campaign to get themselves “elected” to Broadway. Through musical numbers and sketches, the actors explore (and poke fun at) what it takes to be an actor. Shows: Friday, Sept. 29, 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, 3 p.m., Shopland Hall at Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave.

The essentials
Scranton Fringe Festival takes place across 10 venues downtown through Sunday, Oct. 1, closing with a free, all-ages wrap party from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at AFA Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave. Performances start at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, and Friday, Sept. 29, and at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30, and Sunday, Oct. 1. Tickets are $10 for each show at the door. With a Fringe Button, that price drops to $7.
Fringe Buttons are $5, cash only, and can be purchased at Scranton Fringe headquarters at AFA Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave., and participating partners. Proceeds from button sales benefit the festival, and button-holders also receive discounts and deals at participating local businesses through the end of 2017.

Button partnersAdezzo, 515 Center St.
Analog Culture, 349 N. Washington Ave.
Bar Pazzo, 131 N. Washington Ave.
Cafe Sevda, 323 N. Washington Ave.
Comics on the Green, 307 N. Washington Ave.
Coney Island Lunch, 515 Lackawanna Ave.
Daisy Collective, 328 Penn Ave.
DaVinci Pizza, 515 Linden St.
Duffy Accessories, 218 Linden St.
Embassy Vinyl, 352 Adams Ave.
The Keys, 244 Penn Ave.
Northern Light Espresso Bar, 536 Spruce St.
Note Fragrances, 401 Spruce St.
On&On, 1138 Capouse Ave.
RD Blow Dry Bar and Salon, 324 Penn Ave.
Steamtown Hot Yoga, 121 N. Washington Ave.
Terra Preta, 222 Wyoming Ave.
Whiskey Dick’s, 308 N. Washington Ave.

Singer brings Irish music to Scranton on first American tour

Singer brings Irish music to Scranton on first American tour

Nathan Carter wants to spread his music across the globe.
Raised in an Irish family in Liverpool, England, the country singer already has a large fanbase in Ireland and now is on his first tour of the United States and Canada, which includes a stop in Scranton. Carter will take the stage Thursday, Sept. 21, at 7:30 p.m. at Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave.
“I’m just going to be introducing myself and my music to anyone who have never seen me before,” he said during a recent phone interview from Ireland.
Tickets are $45 to $75 and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 570-344-1111 or online at scrantonculturalcenter.org. With Carter’s six-piece band — including fiddles, whistles, accordion, drums, bass and guitar — music fans can expect to hear old Irish songs, folk songs and traditional Irish music. The set also includes ballads and some popular music, such as Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and a tribute to the late Glen Campbell.
“It’s a mix of Irish songs and current songs that people can sing along to,” Carter said.
Joining him on tour is Chloë Agnew, who became one of the original members of Irish music group Celtic Woman at age 14 and launched a solo career in 2013. She will perform big ballads and classics as well.
“She’s been doing her own thing for a while, and we’re excited to have her on the tour,” Carter said, adding he and Agnew will perform some duets.
Carter started his journey to the stage young, learning to play the accordion and sing as a child. After many performances for family, friends and anyone who would listen, Carter began to compete. By 12, he had won All Ireland medals for singing and playing the accordion. Soon after, he joined the Liverpool Ceili band, playing accordion and piano. Solo performances soon followed in Liverpool and Ireland.
Carter became the first country act to hit No. 1 on the Irish charts after Garth Brooks — several of Carter’s singles reached that spot — and his videos garnered more than 1 million hits on YouTube. He’s appeared on Irish television shows and hosts his own talk show, “The Nathan Carter Show.”
While he’s busy overseas, his tour serves as a way to gain a following with new fans in a new place. Starting over can be daunting, but Carter is just doing what he loves.
“I’m just looking forward to giving the audience a great show and entertaining them,” he said. “I don’t call what I do a ‘job,’ because it’s not a job to me. I love what I do, and I’m really blessed.”

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If you go
What: Singer Nathan Carter
When: Thursday, Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave.
Details: Tickets are $45 to $75 and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 570-344-1111 or online at scrantonculturalcenter.org.

Body of Work: Radiologist captures imagination with X-ray art

Body of Work: Radiologist captures imagination with X-ray art

Dr. Susan Summerton is an expert at reading the language of the human body.
It had much more to say than she realized.
As a radiologist, Summerton diagnoses and treats diseases and injuries through medical-imaging techniques such as ultrasounds, CT scans, MRI, X-rays and more. But along with fractures, sprains and masses, Summerton saw other shapes in the images outside of a medical context — like the letter “Y,” a sheepdog, the word “odd” and even the head of Homer Simpson.
“Certain things would just jump out at me,” Summerton said during a recent afternoon in her office at Delta Medix Breast Care Center in downtown Scranton. “Some people don’t see that stuff, but I would catch letters and shapes. It’s like seeing pictures in the clouds in the sky.”
Science becomes art
Summerton’s unique perspective culminated in the business Xray Artistry, through which she creates pieces of art using letters and shapes she saw in medical images. A life-long Philadelphia resident who moved to Scranton to work at Delta Medix in March, she will show her works during her debut First Friday show, “Body Language,” on Friday, Sept. 1, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave.
“I’ve always been very visual, but I’ve never considered myself an artist,” she said. “Now, I’ll get invited to art events and I’m doing First Friday. It’s been neat.”
As an educator at teaching hospital Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia and an associate professor at Jefferson Medical College (now Sidney Kimmel Medical College), Summerton kept the images of the letters and shapes in her teaching files. When she began saving them more than 20 years ago, she never set out to become an artist or businesswoman but rather to fulfill a personal goal. A print in her living room depicted the alphabet spelled out in the shapes and colors of butterfly wings, and she wanted to hang something similar in her office using letters she saw in medical images.
It wasn’t until she planned to attend the Radiological Society of North America’s 100th anniversary and conference in Chicago that she realized she had the whole alphabet. The society encouraged those attending to share the most interesting or unusual cases they had seen or examples of radiological art.
This sparked an idea for Summerton to spell out “RSNA 100: A Century of Transforming Medicine” in medical images, which earned her an honorable mention. The society also displayed the piece.
“I called it ‘Letters to the RSNA,’” she said, adding that today she has at least five examples of each letter. “It was pretty amazing just to see it up there.”
Soon after, word traveled that Summerton created these works, and requests flooded in from coworkers, friends, family, students and more for birthday and holiday gifts, signs to hang in physicians’ and surgeons’ offices, and graduation and retirement keepsakes.
“People started to just ask me, ‘Can you make my name?’ (and) ‘Can you make this for my kid’s teacher?’ They were really excited about it,” she said. “That’s what motivates me to do what I do. It brings joy to people.”
With urging from friends and family, Summerton then began to think about her hobby as a business. She enrolled in a six-week course at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, where she learned the ins and outs of creating a business plan. She hired a graphic artist who also is a radiologist to recreate the original images since patients’ consent forms only allowed her to use the images for educational and research purposes — not for art or for profit. The recreated images are sharper and have a higher resolution than the originals, and Summerton assured that the letters and shapes always are based on her own findings.
Anatomy as inspiration
“They’re inspired by these images,” she said. “They’re just graphic representations of things that I’ve seen. And I’ve seen some interesting stuff.”
Summerton’s prints can be found around the world, and not just in medical offices. Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum — known for medical oddities, specimens and models — carries two of her works in its gift shop: a print of the Liberty Bell (actually an ultrasound of a bladder where an enlarged prostate gland looms in the background) with letters that spell “Philadelphia,” and a print that spells “Love” similar to the iconic statue and photo spot in the city’s Love Park (aka John F. Kennedy Plaza). She has sent her pieces as far away as Australia, and anyone can peruse her work or request a commission on her website, xrayartistry.com.
Summerton, who “can’t stop being a teacher,” plans to teach anatomy and radiology to third-year medical school students at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine this fall. She hopes to use her art pieces to educate by compiling a children’s book or taking them to children’s hospitals one day. While having scans and X-rays done can be nerve wracking, she wants to show people the lightheartedness of the images and the universal truth of it all.
“It appeals to all people because we all have the same bodies,” Summerton said. “When you look at us on the inside, we all look the same. We are all the same.”
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Meet Dr. Susan Summerton

At home: Splits her time between Scranton and Philadelphia and has three children, Lauren, Jon and David

At work: Radiologist at Delta Medix Breast Care Center and will teach anatomy and radiology to third-year students at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine this fall

Claim to fame: Founder of Xray Artistry, which creates artwork using letters and shapes seen in medical images such as MRIs, ultrasounds, CT scans and X-rays

Online: Visit xrayartistry.com to see more of Summerton’s work.

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If you go

What: “Body Language: Xray Artistry by Dr. Susan Summerton”

When: Friday, Sept. 1, 6 to 9 p.m.

Where: Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave.

Details: For more information or a complete list of events, visit first fridayscranton.com.

 

Peach Music Festival returns to Montage with bounty of acts

Peach Music Festival returns to Montage with bounty of acts

In August on Montage Mountain, life’s a peach. Take a bite.

Peach Music Festival rocks its sixth year at the Pavilion at Montage Mountain Thursday, Aug. 10, through Sunday, Aug. 13. Started by the Allman Brothers Band and pavilion concert promoter Live Nation, the festival was modeled after the Wanee Festival in Live Oak, Florida, according to a Times-Tribune story in 2012. Due to its scenic mountain setting paired with proximity to restaurants, shops, hotels and more, the Pavilion at Montage Mountain seemed an ideal venue for the festival.
The event continues to grow with thousands of music lovers descending on the mountain each year to dance, sing, make new friends, reacquaint with old and share in a love of live music. Electric City put together a handy guide to the sights, sounds and tastes of Peach Fest.

Fuel up
Dancing to live music works up an appetite, and Peach Fest fans can grab food and drink at dozens of concession and vendor stands across the festival grounds. There will be typical concert food like hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken fingers and pizza plus some festival favorites such as wraps and sandwiches, barbecue, tacos, burritos and gyros. Plenty of vegetarian and vegan options will be on hand as well. Guests also can cool off with a variety of beverages from mixed drinks or craft, imported and domestic beers, to soda, water, fresh-squeezed lemonade and more.

The music
More than 50 bands will perform across three stages — Peach Stage, Mushroom Stage and Grove Stage — throughout the weekend. Acts will perform throughout the day and into the night, some after midnight. Thursday night kicks off at 4:30 p.m. with acts that include Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead and Cabinet.
On Friday, catch music starting at noon with bands including Steve Kimock & Friends, the Magpie Salute, God Street Wine, Tom Hamilton’s American Babies, Dark Star Orchestra, My Morning Jacket, Pink Talking Fish and Lettuce featuring Chaka Khan.
Saturday performances start at noon, too, and include sets from acts such as Umphrey’s McGee, Fruition, Rusted Root, Gov’t Mule & Friends, Widespread Panic, Papadosio and a Peach Tribute to Gregg Allman and Butch Trucks.
On Sunday, the music starts at noon and rocks until 10 p.m. with acts the Soul Rebels, Mike Gordon, Hayley Jane & the Primates, Ghost of Paul Revere, Joe Bonamassa and more throughout the day.
Schedule, set times and lineup are subject to change. For updated set times, fans can download the Peach Music Festival mobile app for Apple and Android.

Rusted Root

Gregg Allman

For Gregg
Peach Fest founder and Allman Brothers lead singer Gregg Allman canceled his appearance at last year’s festival due to hospitalization, and died in May from complications of liver cancer. Peach Fest will honor the late rocker with an exclusive screening of the documentary “Back to the Swamp: The Making of Southern Blood,” centered on the creation of Allman’s final album. All ticket holders have automatically been entered for a chance to win access. Winners will be contacted the week of the festival with specific screening details.

Off-site parking shuttles
If you’re not camping on the mountain but still want to experience Peach Fest, shuttles transport guests from off-site parking to Montage Mountain during the festival. Shuttles from PNC Field and the Gold lot, both on Montage Mountain Road, run throughout the length of the festival during specific times: Thursday, Aug. 10, 2 p.m.; Friday, Aug. 11, and Saturday, Aug. 12: 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.; Sunday, August 13: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Monday, Aug. 14, 6 a.m. to noon. Outside of these times, shuttles run less frequently.

Couple to tie the knot  at the Peach

Ross Mendoker and Remi Rodriguez

Peace, music and love make up the Peach Fest experience, and the latter rings especially true this year.
Remi Rodriguez and Ross Mendoker of Jamesburg, New Jersey, will exchange vows on Friday, Aug. 11, during the festival at 6:30 p.m. next to the Mushroom Stage. Bob Mulkerin, mayor of Old Forge, will officiate the ceremony. After they attended Peach Fest last year on a whim, the music-lovers knew the festival would be the perfect place to tie the knot.
“There’s really nothing like Peach. We had the most amazing time and I said, ‘This is where we need to get married,’” Rodriguez said during a recent phone interview, adding that the couple got engaged at a different music festival in 2015. “We’re lucky to have something like this being in this part of the country. It’s a beautiful experience.”
The couple’s family and friends as well as Rodriguez and Mendoker’s four children (Ross, 12; Jade, 11; Myles, 4, and Maizy, 3) will be in tow as they say, “I do.” While the venue may be non-traditional, Rodriguez said it will still be the couple’s dream wedding.
“I have a gown, I’m going to look like a bride with bridesmaids and dresses and flowers,” she said with a laugh, adding that she’s seen dozens of posts on social media eager to see the “Peach bride and groom.” “But, getting married at Peach, being surrounded by our friends and family and all of these people who love the music and the atmosphere … this is by far the best decision.”

— gia mazur

 

 

All About That Bass – Grammy award-winner Stanley Clarke  and guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli headline acts for 13th annual  Scranton Jazz Festival

All About That Bass – Grammy award-winner Stanley Clarke and guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli headline acts for 13th annual Scranton Jazz Festival

To hear Grammy Award-winning music, just boogie down to Scranton. Acoustic and electric bass legend Stanley Clarke will headline the 13th annual Scranton Jazz Festival, which takes place Friday, Aug. 4, through Sunday, Aug. 6, across various venues in the city’s downtown. Aside from four Grammys and 13 additional nominations for music’s top honor, Clarke has been recognized in nearly every way imaginable over his 40-year career, during which he produced dozens of gold- and platinum-selling records, earned Emmy nominations and topped readers’ and critics’ polls — including Rolling Stone magazine’s inaugural Jazzman of the Year award, and, most recently, Downbeat magazine’s 2017 Annual International Critics Poll for electric bass.

Clarke also worked in television and film as a composer, orchestrator, conductor and performer for several films, including “Boyz N the Hood” and “The Transporter,” as well as TV shows “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” “Lincoln Heights” and more.
In between touring and working on a new album due out next year, Clarke, a Philadelphia native, will take the stage in the Electric City during the Stanley Clarke Band’s set Sunday, Aug. 6, at 8 p.m. on the main stage at Radisson at Lackawanna Station hotel, 700 Lackawanna Ave., Scranton. There, Clarke hopes to see some familiar faces while he’s in town.
“I’m hoping my friends and family come out to see me,” he said during a recent phone interview from Leeds, England, where he was on a European tour. “I know Scranton very well. As a kid, I used to come to Scranton and (I’ve) been there in the ‘70s and ‘80s … I have some friends near there, as well.”
For Clarke, he’s most eager for Jazz Festival audiences to hear the band play, as they’re extremely tight and cue off each other, though the lineup has only been performing together as a band for two to three years. Also, for a genre as broad as jazz, performing live for jazz lovers and new fans alike can bring a different experience to each audience member, Clarke said.
“It’s an undefined term,” he said. “There’s so many different types of music that fall under the head ‘jazz.’ We do our best to talk to the audience. Our jazz is very, very exciting and direct.”
As in past years, the Jazz Festival’s main stage hosts performances during the beginning of the evening.
The main stage will feature sets by Indigo Moon Brass Band, Steely Dan tribute band the Royal Scam, Scranton Jazz Festival/Camp Crescendo (made up of students from Keystone College’s jazz camp), solo pianist and visual artist Jeff Laibson, New York City-based Eddie Allen Jazz Quintet, Scranton Jazz Festival Big Band with vocalist and guitarist John Pizzarelli and trumpeter, vocalist and composer Nate Birkey.
After the main stage closes on Friday and Saturday, local, regional and national up-and-coming and veteran artists perform during the Jazz Walk, which begins at 10 p.m. at various downtown venues.
With so much music happening throughout the city in jazz, blues and world beat styles, residents have the chance to get a taste of everything, said Marko Marcinko, a local veteran musician, jazz studies instructor at The Pennsylvania State University and festival artistic director. Some people may feel apprehensive when they hear the word “jazz,” but, like Clarke, Marcinko insists there’s so many variations of what jazz can be, someone can like jazz music without even realizing it.
“It is accessible and it is for anyone, under this infinite umbrella,” he said. “Jazz is as American as apple pie and our greatest export to the world.”
— gia mazur


If you go
What: Scranton Jazz Festival featuring Grammy Award-winner Stanley Clarke
When: Friday, Aug. 4: Jazz happy hour at Trax starts at 5 p.m.; Main Stage bands start at 7:30 p.m., Jazz Walk begins at 10 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 5: Main Stage bands start at 5:30 p.m., Jazz Walk begins at 10 p.m.; Sunday, Aug. 6: Jazz Brunch inside Carmen’s 2.0 Restaurant; Main Stage bands starts at 7 p.m. (Clarke performs at 8 p.m.)
Where: Main Stage is located at Radisson at Lackawanna Station hotel, 700 Lackawanna Ave.; Jazz Walk includes various venues downtown in Scranton
Details: Jazz Festival weekend pass is $60. Single-day tickets are $10 for Friday, $25-$35 for Saturday, $30-$40 for Sunday. Tickets are available online at scrantonjazzfestival.org, by calling 570-575-5282 or at any Joe Nardone’s Gallery of Sound locations.

NEPA on display – Susquehanna County painter to show works inspired by local landscapes at First Friday

NEPA on display – Susquehanna County painter to show works inspired by local landscapes at First Friday

A Susquehanna County artist wants to show residents the natural treasures of the region.
Thompson resident Gregory J. Pelly will display landscape paintings during his exhibit “Through the Half Box — Current Landscapes,” at Artworks Gallery, 503 Lackawanna Ave., Scranton, Wednesday, Aug. 2, through Friday, Aug. 25.
An opening reception is set for Friday, Aug. 4, from 6 to 9 p.m., as part of downtown’s monthly First Friday Art Walk. Aidan Jordan will perform during the event.
Pelly’s work will depict the beauty and natural wonders he sees each day as he ventures into different sites between the Susquehanna and Delaware rivers. The en plein air paintings feature fields, streams, farms, marshes, wetlands and everything in between, he said.
“I go out on location and I just make paintings,” Pelly said. “I’m trying to represent the beauty around us and trying to speak to what we have here, without preaching.”
Always a self-proclaimed “nature guy,” Pelly worked outside for his career and really tuned into the sights he experienced. As an artist, it was second nature to start painting what he saw and embrace the spontaneity.
“It’s about the magic of what’s going on out there and when I go out to paint, I don’t know what I will find,” he said. “Bears, deer, sometimes sunshine, sometime clouds, I never know what I’m going to find and never know what I’m going to come home with. It’s the thrill of the hunt.”
While Pelly has shown his work at First Friday before as well as nature-oriented events like Lackwanna River Conservation Association’s Riverfest and Waystock Festival in Waymart. But he said Artworks Gallery is by far the largest room he has ever shown in, and noted that this will allow him to show some of his larger paintings, many of which have never been seen before. Wherever he shares his work, however, it’s about meeting people and other artists and gaining exposure.
“You put the work out there, and it’s fun to see how people respond to the work,” he said. “Folks have been really sweet on response, and that’s a real sweet compliment when they take the time to really take it in.”
Pelly does not originally hail from Thompson, but he has lived in Susquehanna county for 25 years. Though he has traveled all over, Northeast Pennsylvania has become his home and his favorite artistic subject.
“I love it here,” he said. “I’ve traveled quite a bit, but I know what we’ve got here, and you’re not going to find it anywhere else.”
— gia mazur


If you go
What: “Through the Half Box — Current Landscapes,” works by Gregory J. Pelly
When: Wednesday, Aug. 2, through Friday, Aug. 25; Opening reception, Friday, Aug. 4, 6 to 9 p.m.
Where: Artworks Gallery, 503 Lackawanna Ave., Scranton
Details: For a complete First Friday listing, visit firstfridayscranton.com.


First Friday – August

“Evolution,” works by Mitch Lewis, Jackie Thomas and Jules Perlmutter, AFA Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave.
Works by Mark Boyer Dryfoos & Rhonda Morrison, second floor, AFA Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave.
Photography by Bill Lester, music by LAF, Ale Mary’s at the Bittenbender, 126 Franklin Ave.
“Pics and Tunes,” works by Zak Zavada and music by DJ Sol E, Analog Culture, 349 N. Washington Ave.
“Dog Days of Summer,” AOS Metals, 527 Bogart Court
Group show with works by Chris Tufano, Michael Lloyd, Alex Seeley, AV Restaurant and Lounge, 320 Penn Ave.
“Lions Den,” works by Sam Kuchwara and Allison LaRussa, Bar Pazzo, 131 N. Washington Ave.
“Go West,” works by Lori Ryan, The Bog, 341 Adams Ave.
“Face to Face,” works by Allison Stroyan, Eden-a vegan cafe, 344 Adams Ave.
“Magic, Music & More with Jack Graham,” music by DJ Elusionz, Hilton Scranton & Conference Center, 100 Adams Ave.
CAT-astrophic Art Show, works by Mary Crespo and Richard Schenk, The Keys Beer & Spirits, 244 Penn Ave.
Nibbles & Bits @ LAVISH, Lavish Body & Home, 600 Linden St.
“Break the Silence: Sexual Violence Awareness Photography Exhibit,” by Ashley Matthews and Stephanie Santore with sexual violence survivors and awareness advocates, The Leonard Theater, 335 Adams Ave.
“Girlfriends: The Art of Dominique Capone,” Loyalty Barbershop and Shave Parlor of Scranton, 342 Adams Ave.
“New Paintings,” works by Brooke Wandall, Marquis Art and Frame, 515 Center St.
Photography by Caitlyn Sebolka, New Laundry, 127 N. Washington Ave.
“Synesthesia,” works by Melissa S. Short, Northern Light Espresso Bar, 536 Spruce St.
“Prismacolors: Portraits & Prints,” works by Amber Lovell, NOTE Fragrances, 401 Spruce St.
Swan Song on Lackawanna: Second
birthday and moving party, On&On, 518 Lackawanna Ave.
The Flamingo Art Walk, works by various female artists and writers, POSH at The Scranton Club, Albright Memorial Library and Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, all on North Washington Avenue
Various art exhibits and activities, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 232 Wyoming Ave.
Charcoal Portraiture by Pete Mohanco, music by DJ Honeyman Lightnin’, Terra Preta Restaurant, 222 Wyoming Ave.
Group show featuring jazz-inspired works, Trinity Studio & Gallery, 511 Bogart Court
Pop-up shop at The Workshop, group show with music by John Meza, The Workshop, 334 Adams Ave.

Fun for all – Camp Bisco returns to Montage for weekend of eclectic music and camaraderie

Fun for all – Camp Bisco returns to Montage for weekend of eclectic music and camaraderie

Where electronic, dance and rock music meet, there’s Camp Bisco.
The music festival, which features acts ranging from EDM to jam music to hip-hop to rock, returns to its home for the past two years — the Pavilion at Montage Mountain, 1000 Montage Mountain Road, Scranton — from Thursday, July 13, to Saturday, July 15.
Camp Bisco started in the late ’90s as the brainchild of the Disco Biscuits, a Philadelphia-borne jam band. According to Biscuits keyboard player and Bisco co-founder Aron Magner, the Pavilion is a perfect home for the festival due to its proximity all around.
“There’s a special set of pros to having (Bisco) in Scranton,” he said during a recent phone interview from his home in Philadelphia. “Not just its proximity to major metros, but you can leave the campsite and have all these hotels and other amenities. And people can still camp and have that experience, too.
“There’s also a water park right in the middle of the festival,” he added. “There’s not many places you can be in the lazy river or the wave pool and dancing to your favorite band.”
The musical experience is just as unique as the venue, Magner said. At its inception, the “ethos of Camp Bisco” was a chance for the Biscuits to introduce their fans to the music they liked and, in turn, a chance for fans to tell the band what kind of music they liked. The other artists didn’t necessarily sound like the Biscuits, he said, but they made music that was complementary. The process changed slightly over time, but the mission remains.
“We would sit around with a pen and paper and kind of go down this rabbit hole of who to bring into the fold,” he said. “Now, instead of just the Disco Biscuits, it’s a team of people and we all put our heads together. But, we really keep with the essence of what Camp Bisco is and create the best fan experience.”
With a range of music and different kinds of artists, bands like Lotus, which has rock roots mixed with electronic and house, find a place at Camp Bisco. Jesse Miller, who plays bass and sampler for the band, said that at festivals like Peach Music Festival (a festival Lotus also plays at the Pavilion in August), the band is one of the more dance-oriented and electronic acts, while at Bisco, with its abundance of DJs and EDM acts, they lean more toward the rock side. The Biscuits’ festival allows for that spectrum and for Lotus to bring its signature mix of genres.
“We’ve seen the days when electronic dance music and rock music did not have places to come together,” Miller said during a phone interview from his Philadelphia home. “Over time, these two things got closer to where the lines eventually started to cross and blur. Camp Bisco was always a place where you could find these two things come together before it was necessarily the norm.”
With a plethora of music and genres offered, there is something for every music festival lover at Camp Bisco. Miller joked the festival’s only real worry is the skies.
“Fingers crossed the weather holds out,” he said. “That’s always the toss-up at a festival.”
Rain or shine, however, fans come to Bisco each year for the chance to bond over their love of music.
“It’s a community of like-minded fans that are all in this together, in what is Camp Bisco,” Magner said. “It’s an intangible experience to be able to have one collective borg — for lack of a better word — of 25,000 people all supportive of each other and the community and the music and everything that makes up the message of Camp Bisco.”
— gia mazur


If you go
What: Camp Bisco music festival
When: Thursday, July 13, through Saturday, July 15. Guests with RV passes may arrive Wednesday, July 12, at 4 p.m. Those with VIP camping parking can arrive at 8 p.m., and all other guests may arrive at 10 p.m.
Where: The Pavilion at Montage Mountain, 1000 Montage Mountain Road, Scranton
Details: Saturday single-day passes start at $99.50. Three-day passes start at $215.50 general admission and $499.50 VIP. Camp Bisco guests must be 18 or older with a valid ID. For a complete list of acts and set times, to purchase tickets or for more information, visit campbisco.com.

International Encore – Scranton artists to stage original show locally before bringing it to Scotland festival

International Encore – Scranton artists to stage original show locally before bringing it to Scotland festival

Some people take their show on the road, but a group of Scranton performers will take theirs across the pond.
“The Darling Core,” co-created and co-starring local artists Simone Daniel and Conor Anthony O’Brien, makes its international debut at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland this summer.
In case they can’t make the trip to Europe, Northeast Pennsylvania residents have the chance to see it a little closer to home as the Cooperage Project, 1030 Main St., Honesdale, hosts two performances of the play on Friday, July 7, and Saturday, July 8. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the show starts at 8. There is no admission price, but donations to benefit the Cooperage are accepted.
The show also will appear as a part of East to Edinburgh Festival at 59e59 Theatres, New York City, on Tuesday, July 11, and Sunday, July 16.
The story centers on Adam, the first man, and Lillith, the original first woman that “revisionist history has kind of wiped away,” said Daniel. According to lore, Lillith left Adam and the Garden of Eden, refusing to be subservient to him, and thus became known as a demon. In “The Darling Core,” Adam and Lillith are a vaudeville duo and the play takes place backstage at one of their gigs.
“After all these years of working together, they continue to butt heads and not understand each other. Pretty much like most men and women,” Daniel said with a laugh.
Daniel and O’Brien originally wrote the show and presented it at Pittsburgh Fringe Festival in 2014, then at local venues including O’Brien’s former Vintage Theater and Olde Brick Theatre and at the Cell Theatre in Manhattan. Both Daniel and O’Brien acknowledged how much the play has grown and changed over the years.
“It’s funny now how different we are and the writing is since we started,” Daniel said. “Three years ago we were like, ‘This is exactly what we want to say.’ But, we’ve changed, and the world is changed, and looking at it now, we think maybe that isn’t what we wanted to say anymore. It’s been a very cool experience.”
The pair also enjoys collaborating with an extended group of artists. As part of New Vintage Ensemble, a collective of regional writers, directors and actors, fresh eyes take a look at the piece each time it’s presented. For example, they noted that the different perspectives offered from original director Maggie O’Brien (now supervising producer) to Daniel Holme, who currently fills that role, have been the most invigorating part.
“It’s been a joy from beginning to end,” O’Brien said, adding that the ensemble’s mission is to “reinvent the familiar” with its works. “Working with this group of talented artists has been an amazing experience. Whether they’ve been with the production since 2014 or came on a little later, the guidance, support, creativity is just unparalleled.”
As co-founder of Scranton Fringe Festival, O’Brien, along with co-founder Elizabeth Bohan, will attend meetings and workshops in Scotland to bring back to the city’s festival, which returns this fall. “The Darling Core” continues to elevate all who are a part of it to new heights.
“This has gone places that we never thought was it was going to,” Daniel said. “We’ll keep working on it and see what changes, but whatever happens is further than we thought we were going to be three years ago. And that’s really exciting.”
— gia mazur


If you go
What: “The Darling Core,” presented by New Vintage Ensemble
When: Friday, July 7, and Saturday, July 8; doors open at 7:30 p.m., show starts at 8
Where: The Cooperage Project, 1030 Main St., Honesdale
Details: Admission is free, but donations to benefit the Cooperage will be accepted.

Feminine frame of mind – Everhart showcases collection of women-only artists

Feminine frame of mind – Everhart showcases collection of women-only artists

While Everhart Museum’s superhero exhibit is still on display, a newer collection showcases a different kind of power — girl power.
“Women of the Everhart,” which had a soft opening last month, features the work of female artists only and will be displayed in the upstairs galleries of the museum, 1901 Mulberry St., Scranton, until Sunday, Sept. 24.
Everhart Executive Director Aurore Giguet, who curated the exhibit, noted art remains a male-dominated industry, and women artists are underrepresented in most museums around the world. She referenced a piece by a group of anonymous American female artists, who call themselves the Guerrilla Girls, which states that one is more likely to see a nude woman in a museum than a woman’s work.
“Less than five percent of the world’s museums contain art by women,” Giguet said. “We’re giving these artists a space for their voices and individuality … supporting women artists, past and present, and highlighting these great pieces by a group not often seen.”
Giguet added while the exhibition is not a women’s art show in the way that it “doesn’t claim to define the female voice” or look deeper at why something was created, it is a way for people across the region to see works by women artists and a chance to celebrate them. She noted that for a museum of its size, the Everhart holds a noteworthy number of women’s pieces. The Everhart also acquired some new works specifically for the exhibit.
“We have pieces by some internationally known artists, some exclusives and some pieces by regional women, too,” she said. “(We want) people to be inspired by the work that’s there.”
As an extension of the exhibit, anyone can sponsor a piece as special tribute to a woman in their life to be placed with that work for the duration of the show. Featured artists include Audrey Flack, whose work pioneered the art genre of photo realism, and Elaine de Kooning, an abstract and figurative expressionist painter during the post-World War II era, who created commissioned portraits of President John F. Kennedy.
Regional artists found a place in the exhibit, too, such as Priscilla Longshore Garrett and Mary Butler as well as Hope Horn, a painter, sculptor and educator who dedicated her life to Scranton’s art community and became the namesake of University of Scranton’s art gallery. The works of “Women of the Everhart” stretch across several types of mediums including paper, textiles, paintings, still life and sculpture.
“There’s a lot of variety,” Giguet. “It’s a little bit of something for everybody and pieces everyone can take something away from.”
Several high school and college classes came through to see the exhibit already, and Giguet insists residents don’t need to travel far to see great pieces. Art by women may be hard to find but Everhart works to bridge that gap in Northeast Pennsylvania.
“You don’t have to go to the big city to get a big museum experience,” Giguet said. “We have it right here in Scranton.”
— gia mazur


If you go
What: “Women of the Everhart” exhibit
When: Through Sunday, Sept. 24; gallery hours are Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, noon to 5 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m.
Where: Everhart Museum, 1901 Mulberry St., Scranton
Details: For more information, call 570-346-7186 or visit everhart-museum.org.

Nothing but the truth – Scranton StorySlam returns with real tales to benefit local Fringe Festival

Nothing but the truth – Scranton StorySlam returns with real tales to benefit local Fringe Festival

Five years ago, a group of residents took the stage one-by-one to tell a story to a room full of friends and strangers and a tradition was born: Scranton StorySlam.
On Saturday, June 3, 10 storytellers take the stage for the 16th StorySlam, which is the third version of the event to fall under the Scranton Fringe Festival’s umbrella of programming.
The slam’s theme, “Taking the Fifth,” is a nod to the event’s fifth anniversary and also gives storytellers a myriad of directions to take, said Fringe board member Camille Reinecke, who helps to coordinate the festival.
“The way I interpret it is something that was withheld … you refrained from saying something and vowed never to speak of it again,” Reinecke said. “But, people can interpret it however they want, and it’s exciting to see what they come up with. It’s interesting how completely different the stories could be with the same theme.”
The show takes place inside Craftsmen Hall on the third floor Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave., Scranton. Doors open at 8 p.m. and stories begin at 8:30. Tickets are $7 and proceeds benefit Scranton Fringe Festival. Tickets can be purchased at eventbrite.com in advance or at the door.
The Slam follows the same format as in past years. Community members from actors to writers to comedians share a true, five-minute-long story without notes in front of an audience and a small group of judges that can be taken in any direction from poignant to hilarious. Actor and DJ Conor McGuigan will emcee the evening.
Those slated to share their stories include writer and actor Joe McGurl, motivational speaker and writer Garry Melville, writer Alicia Grega, who was part of the very first StorySlam, and more. Like in past years, two “wild card” storytellers will be chosen from the crowd to tell their stories, too. The winner will take home a “Slammy,” the official StorySlam trophy, and $50.
Some stories will break hearts, some will evoke laughter and some will simply make the audience smile but all stories will connect the storytellers with the audience, and Reinecke said that’s what the evening is all about.
“I love this event because it gives a diverse group of storytellers the opportunity to take the audience on an adventure,” Reinecke said. “They only get five minutes, but by the end of the night, you know so much about everyone up there. Especially this one — it’s like you’re learning their deep dark secrets.”
— gia mazur


If you go
What: Scranton StorySlam: Taking The Fifth
When: Saturday, June 3; 8 p.m. doors open, 8:30 p.m. stories start
Where: Craftsmen Hall, third floor, Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave.
Details: Tickets are $7 and proceeds benefit Scranton Fringe Festival. Tickets can be purchased at eventbrite.com in advance or at the door.

Veteran’s Promise group plans bike ride, day of activities to help vets

Veteran’s Promise group plans bike ride, day of activities to help vets

Veteran’s Promise wants to shed light on local veterans and the community that helps them.
Comprised of veterans and vet supporters that provide outreach and support to service members and their families, the group’s event, Rock the Night on Shine the Light, is an all-in-one ride, vigil and benefit that promotes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder awareness and suicide prevention.
Veteran’s Promise president and founder Dave Ragan said the event aligns with the group’s mission to start a dialogue about the struggles military members face when they come home and to educate the community and advocate for them.
“People are so afraid of the word or stigma and the only way to change that is to just it it out there,” said Ragan, a Pennsylvania Army National Guard veteran, who also is a suicide survivor himself. “When (military members) come home, they struggle … It takes a lot of work to put that back together again and when we reach out to those veterans, that’s a way to help.”
The event kicks off Sunday, June 4, at Thirst T’s Bar & Grill, 120 Lincoln St., Olyphant. A day-long schedule of events is planned, beginning with the ride to honor fallen soldier Staff Sgt. Joseph Granville. Registration is from 10 a.m. to noon and kickstands come up at 12:15 p.m. The pack will ride to Granville’s former home, where a flag will be lowered and presented to Granville’s mother. Then, the pack and limos filled with Granville’s family members, led by police escorts, will ride back to Thirst T’s. The flag will fly at the event for the rest of the afternoon.
Though the event is a fundraiser, Veteran’s Promise will give back by saying thanks to the community members who are there for them. At 2 p.m., the vigil and ceremony starts during which local people, businesses and police officers who support the group will be honored. A veteran also will be honored with an award in Granville’s name.
From 3 to 7:30 p.m., the day loosens up a bit and bands will play inside the bar, with food for purchase, basket raffles and tattoos by the Rock Shop Tattoo Gallery available for guests, as well.
The event differs from last year, Ragan said, as it was just a vigil and ceremony then. With the poignant activities occurring earlier in the day, it allows the group members and the crowd to relax and catch up with each other to end the night, he added.
“We tackle those deep, dark secrets that people don’t want to talk about, hence, ‘Shine the Light,’” Ragan said. “But, we’re also letting people know that we want to have fun and do things that are lighthearted.”
The group is always looking for new members and serving is not a requirement, Ragan said, adding anyone that loves their country and its military is welcome to join. The group looks to expand their reach and services offered, and give back to those who support them. They help many local families and individuals and, in turn, receive kindness from the community, like Thirst T’s owner Thomas Tell Jr., who donated the space to host the benefit.
Going forward, Ragan hopes Veteran’s Promise will work with more leaders, businesses and neighbors and, hopefully, solidify a permanent home for the group to work out of as well as hold meetings and events.
“As long as people need our help, we will be there to do it however we can,” Ragan said. “We try to dream big. It’s not just about promoting Rock the Night, it’s about making a difference.”
— gia mazur


If you go
What: Veteran’s Promise Rock the Night on Shine the Light
When: Sunday, June 4; Ride registration, 10 a.m. to noon; best bike contest, 11:30 a.m.; kickstands up, 12:15 p.m.; vigil and ceremony, 2 p.m.; benefit with entertainment, 3 to 7:30 p.m.
Where: Thirst T’s Bar & Grill, 120 Lincoln St., Olyphant
Details: Ride registration is $20 for riders, $10 for passengers and admission to the benefit portion is $10. All proceeds benefit Veteran’s Promise. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

How to help
To donate, including baskets, please contact Veteran’s Promise through the group’s Facebook page.

Fight Night – ‘WWE Raw’ returns to area after near decade-long absence with Superstar champ Alexa Bliss

Fight Night – ‘WWE Raw’ returns to area after near decade-long absence with Superstar champ Alexa Bliss

When “WWE Raw” last rolled through Northeast Pennsylvania, women wrestlers were referred to as “Divas” and no woman had ever held two women’s division titles.
Neither statement applies to Alexa Bliss, who will appear on “Raw” on Monday, June 5, during the show’s first stop in the region in nearly a decade at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp.Tickets start at $18 and are available at ticketmaster.com, the arena box office, or by calling 800-745-3000.
Bliss, who was selected for the roster of “SmackDown Live!” last July during WWE’s draft, won the blue brand’s women’s title before she moved to the company’s other weekly live show, “Raw,” as part of the Superstar Shake-up in April. Later that month, Bliss cemented herself in the WWE history books when she won the Raw Women’s Championship and became the first woman to hold both the SmackDown and Raw Women’s titles.
“It’s amazing and something that will go down in history,” Bliss, known as Alexis “Lexi” Kaufman outside the ring, said during a recent phone interview from Orlando, Florida. “It’s awesome to have this opportunity WWE has given to me, and I couldn’t be anymore thankful. And I’ve never made history before, either, so it’s definitely amazing.”
Bliss also is a Superstar, just like her male counterparts on the roster, another change WWE made in 2016 during what was dubbed as the “Women’s Revolution,” where more emphasis was put on women wrestlers and their talent and matches. Gone are the days of 30-seconds-long women’s matches for the pink butterfly-emblazoned Diva’s Championship belt.
Though Bliss said she was not part of the “Four Horsewomen” (Superstars Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Bayley) who worked to usher in the new era of women’s talent, Bliss follows their lead.
“It’s our turn to take it to the next level of the revolution,” said Bliss, who signed to WWE’s developmental property NXT in 2013. “We’re constantly stepping our game up. Every time I’m out in that ring, I take every opportunity and just try to run with it.”
A lifelong athlete, Bliss competed in kickboxing, track and professional bodybuilding and also was a gymnast and cheerleader. The latter two helped with Bliss’ air and body awareness in the ring, but she admits there’s no sport like pro wrestling.
“(Cheer) and gymnastics helped that, absolutely, but nothing can ever prepare you for what your body goes through in the ring,” she said. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
Bliss, a bad guy, (or “heel”) will defend her title against good guy (or “face”) Bayley, whom she said she loves to work with, the day before the stop in Wilkes-Barre. The pair are feuding and Bayley is known for hugging her opponents while Bliss is known for her attitude and sass. Though Bliss was hesitant to play the villain, she quickly settled into the role.
“It’s so much easier to get people to hate you than to like you,” she said, laughing. “It’s so much more fun.”
Bliss’s work in WWE is far from done. She feels excited to be part of the new generation of Superstars who continue the evolution of women’s wrestling. For girls who want to follow in the footsteps of Bliss and her fellow women on the roster, she advised not to be discouraged if success doesn’t come right away, and echoed the sentiments a coach once gave to her.
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” she said. “Learn the process and respect the process and love the process.”
— gia mazur


If you go
What: “WWE Raw Live” featuring Superstar Alexa Bliss
When: Monday, June 5, 8 p.m.
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Boulevard, Wilkes-Barre Twp.
Details: Tickets range from $18 to $103 and are available at ticketmaster.com, the arena box office, or by calling 800-745-3000. There is a $10 fee to park in the arena’s lot.