American dream  Tony winner, Hamilton’s Odom brings smooth, crisp sound to Wyoming Seminary stage

American dream Tony winner, Hamilton’s Odom brings smooth, crisp sound to Wyoming Seminary stage

Leslie Odom Jr. follows his passion. The man is non-stop.
The Tony Award-winning performer has been on a whirlwind since he rose to fame as Aaron Burr in hip-hop Broadway musical juggernaut “Hamilton.” Odom earned critical acclaim and several accolades including a Tony Award, for his portrayal of the charismatic, vulnerable and complicated founding father.
When he left the show in 2016, Odom kept pushing further, pursuing a solo career and touring to spread his love of performing to fans around the country.
He brings his multifaceted solo show to the area on Wednesday, Jan. 17, at 7:30 p.m. when he performs at Wyoming Seminary’s Kirby Center for Creative Arts, 260 N. Sprague Ave., Kingston.
“I’m kind of lucky I get to bring as much of myself in able to into the work,” Odom said during a recent phone interview, enroute to travel from Los Angeles to Indianapolis. “It’s all deeply personal to me, touring and connecting with fans in a more open way. … I’m up there telling the stories about my life and singing songs I love.”
Since 2016, Odom put out two albums: a self-titled work of jazz standards, showtunes and originals he released just before his exit from Broadway and “Simply Christmas,” which is full the performer’s crisp, smooth take on seasonal classics.
These works can be expected during his stop in Kingston, but Odom promised fans that’s not all. He doesn’t believe in people leaving disappointed after a concert and will perform some songs from “Hamilton” plus selections from other work he’s known for, including NBC’s musical television show “Smash.”
Many of these songs take on different meanings for Odom during his concerts. When performing “Hamilton” songs, like “Dear Theodosia,” a ballad Burr and Hamilton sing about their children, or “Wait For It,” on Burr’s undying determination, he’s singing these as himself, which transports the music into a different realm.
“Songs from the show are really nice to perform out of context,” he explained. “Bringing it in to a concert, you get to color outside the lines. Some songs take on new meaning when it’s not Aaron Burr singing it.”
In between making music and touring, Odom’s kept busy acting, like appearing in last year’s “Murder on the Orient Express” alongside Daisy Ridley, and continues to pursue different avenues. His book, “Failing Up” is due out in March and is written in the style of a commencement speech. The narrative details how Odom’s greatest successes came from his greatest risks and how he allowed himself to be open to defeat.
“The better part of it is the story of how everything in my life turned around the first time I gave myself permission to fail,” he said. 
Odom worked as an actor on stage and television before landing his big break but admits it was a challenge. He kept working toward his goal and what made him feel alive but success didn’t happen immediately.
“That can be the biggest eye roll, ‘Yeah, but you had ‘Hamilton,’ but I didn’t know that seven or eight years ago, struggling, trying to get jobs,” Odom said with a laugh. “I didn’t know that the role of a lifetime would come to me. I was just following my passion and my heart. … and eventually found my way to ‘Hamilton.’”
Odom’s advice to young people finding their path echoes his own life. He encourages anyone to surround themselves with what makes them happiest. Whether it be a career in performing arts, math or medicine, keep moving toward it and be open to where it takes you.
“Read about, talk about it, learn as much as you can about it. Follow your passion and those things will love you back,” he said. “Keep walking toward those things that light you up. … I didn’t know take this step, then take this step. I just loved it, you know? I loved it and found a way to dream myself into the world I loved so much.”
Odom took the holidays to unplug and clear his mind and is coming into the new year feeling refreshed, focused and balanced. He’s ready to continue to challenge himself and to reach as many people as he can through his passion.
“(It’s) the fact that I got to express myself in such a way that felt total and complete and now get to sort of be the architect of the rest of my journey and go where my inspiration leads,” he said. “It’s that I get to go around the country and meet fans and people who didn’t have a chance to see the show and some that may never get to go to New York (City) to see the show. We get to bring it to them.”

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If you go
What: Sem Presents! featuring Leslie Odom Jr.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 17, at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Wyoming Seminary’s Kirby Center for Creative Arts, 260 N. Sprague Ave., Kingston
Details: Tickets are $35-$70 and can be purchased online at wyomingseminary.org/arts/sempresents.

Tunkhannock native shoots for stars on  ‘Vanderpump Rules’

Tunkhannock native shoots for stars on ‘Vanderpump Rules’

Like many 20-somethings, Adam Spott works several jobs.
The Tunkhannock native living in Santa Monica, California, acts and models, appearing in short films and print campaigns. And with Circle 8 Productions, Spott also works on the production side of things, including lifestyle TV shows in the Los Angeles area.
Though, TV viewers might know him from his side gig as a bartender at West Hollywood hot spot SUR restaurant and lounge, the setting for Bravo reality show “Vanderpump Rules.”
Named for SUR owner and “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” cast member Lisa Vanderpump, the show, now in its sixth season, follows the lives of the staff members as they build their futures. Spott said many service industry workers in Los Angeles are aspiring actors, models, singers, writers and directors, and “Vanderpump Rules” follows cast members outside of work as well. There, relationships between employees and staff members often come to a head.
“They definitely picked a good (main) crew to follow if they wanted drama,” Spott said, laughing, during a recent phone interview. “It’s always entertaining, that’s for sure.” 
Spott’s first foray in the service industry came far away from the cameras and lights. As a teenager in Wyoming County, Spott worked at StoneHedge Golf Course in Factoryville and went on to nab jobs and internships at other country clubs, including Glen Oak County Club in Clarks Summit.
A 2007 graduate of Lackawanna Trail Junior-Senior High School, Spott headed to Florida State University to pursue a degree in hospitality management. In Florida, Spott waited tables, bartended and worked other jobs throughout college. He also interned at The Club at Las Camapnas in New Mexico in supervisor positions.
“I always wanted to work in the service industry (and) wanted to do that kind of work,” Spott said.
After college, Spott bounced around the southeast, from Jacksonville, Florida, to Orlando and, finally, Atlanta, where he worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative. When a regional magazine picked him as one of Atlanta’s most eligible bachelors, an Atlanta-based modeling agency approached him about signing a contract, and he started to book print and commercial work.
Soon after, Spott signed with modeling agency Wilhelmina Models nationally and knew he wanted to make the leap to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.
“I figured I always wanted to be out here, and if there was ever a time to go after what I wanted to do, might as well strike while the iron was hot,” he said. “That’s more or less what sent me 3,000 miles across the country.”
Los Angeles’ schedule was a shock to Spott. For someone aiming for a career in the entertainment industry, no work is guaranteed, and Spott quickly had to find a different way to make money with the flexibility to pursue his dream.
“I was so set in a 9-to-5 (schedule), being on salary; that career path was what I was used to,” he said. “I learned pretty quick how expensive (the cost of living is), how people have so many different avenues of income. I needed a part-time job, with the ups and downs of modeling and acting.”
Spott said he didn’t know what “Vanderpump Rules” was initially, but he was aware of SUR and was confident in his service experience to apply to be a bartender. He was selected and sent to bartending classes in the city to hone his skills. He began as a barback and worked his way up to bartender after a few months.
His position at SUR placed him in good company to further his entertainment career, too. Spott’s good friend and fellow employee (and original cast member of “Vanderpump Rules”), Scheana Marie, introduced Spott to his gig with the production company. Restaurant staff know Vanderpump encourages her employees to pursue careers outside of SUR. 
“She’s always looking out for you, and she knows how difficult it can be to move to a city like L.A. with no connections,” Spott said. “She always has her employees’ best interests in mind. She’s very intimidating, and she will tell you to button up your shirt and stand up straight, but she is one of the most kind-hearted people I have ever met.”

Adam Spott, with SUR owner Lisa Vanderpump, called his boss one of the most “intimidating yet kindhearted” people he’s ever met.

As a popular Los Angeles hotspot, SUR is a hub for power players in the entertainment industry. This atmosphere offers employees the chance to make connections and advance their careers.
“You meet so many people in the entertainment industry,” Spott said. “That’s what so cool about here. You can shake the right hand, and the next thing you know, you’re working your dream job.”
Pursuing a career in acting or another sector of the entertainment industry can be draining, but Spott attributes his drive to his parents, Sandra Spott and Matthew Spott, and his hometown.
“I love where I was born and raised. That will always be home to me,” he said. “It’s rare to have a blue-collar work ethic in a place like L.A. I am very grateful for that.”
Spott acknowledged that sometimes those who live in small towns find it hard to leave to pursue their dreams. While Spott, who loves to be in front of the camera and hopes to make it to the movie screen someday, set his sights on big dreams in big cities, he knows his small-town roots imparted in him the determination to get there.
“There was a quote I saw, and it always resonated with me: ‘I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night,’” he said. “If you want something so bad and you love it, you can’t be afraid of failure. You can always go home, in my opinion. There’s nothing to be scared of.”

 

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Meet Adam Spott 
Residence: Originally from Tunkhannock, Spott lives in Santa Monica, California.
Family: Parents, Sandra Spott, Factoryville, and Matthew Spott, Tunkhannock; brother, Matthew and wife, DeAnna, Philadelphia
Education: Graduate of Lackawanna Trail Junior-Senior High School and Florida State University
Claim to fame: An actor and model, Spott also works in the service industry and is featured on this season of Bravo reality show “Vanderpump Rules.”

If you watch
What: “Vanderpump Rules,” featuring Tunkhannock native Adam Spott
When and where: Mondays, 9 p.m., on Bravo

Year Ahead

Year Ahead

Festivals
Whether for food or fun, a number of festivals take place around the region each year. Enjoy the wonders of the Lackawanna River during Shiverfest on Saturday, Jan. 13, then head to Dietrich Theater, 60 E. Tioga St., Tunkhannock, for two film festivals featuring foreign, independent and art films. Winter Fest runs Friday, Feb. 16, through Thursday, March 8, and the Spring Film Festival then takes place Friday, April 13, through Thursday, May 3, with special activities on each opening night. There will be special previews on Thursday, Feb. 1, and Thursday, March 29, and free post-festival discussions Friday, March 9, and Friday, May 4.
Join one of the biggest events in downtown Wilkes-Barre, the annual Fine Arts Fiesta on Public Square, in May. Celebrate a Midvalley tradition, St. Ubaldo Day and Race of the Saints, in Jessup over Memorial Day weekend.
The region celebrates its love of food with the annual Edwardsville Pierogi Festival, June 8 and 9, Plymouth’s annual Kielbasa Festival, held the second weekend of August, while the Pittston Tomato Festival takes place the third weekend in August.
Labor Day weekend offers the chance to commemorate the area’s rich locomotive history during Railfest at Steamtown National Historic Site and its Italian heritage at La Festa Italiana on Lackawanna County Courthouse Square.

Kids and family
Children can learn through a series of free stage shows geared toward grades three to eight at F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, Public Square, Wilkes-Barre: “Four Score and Seven Years Ago” on Wednesday, Feb. 21; “Harriet Tubman & the Underground Railroad” on Friday, March 16; and “Huck & Tom and the Mighty Mississippi” on Tuesday, April 24. The Kirby Center also will host family-friendly fare such as “Disney Junior Dance Party On Tour” on Friday, April 27; animal expert Jack Hanna on Saturday, April 28; “Peppa Pig Live: Peppa Pig’s Surprise” on Tuesday, May 15; and the free “The Greatest Pirate Story Never Told” on Saturday, May 19.
At Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp., families can catch “Disney On Ice presents Dream Big” from Thursday, Jan. 11, through Monday, Jan. 15; AMSOIL Arenacross Series on Saturday, Jan. 20, and Sunday, Jan. 21; “WWE Live” on Friday, Jan. 26; Monster Jam Triple Threat Series from Friday, Feb. 9 through Sunday, Feb. 11; the Harlem Globetrotters on Saturday, Feb. 24; and “Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes” from Thursday, May 3, through Sunday, May 6.
In Scranton, families can get into the Irish spirit with the city’s 57th annual St. Patrick’s Parade, set for Saturday, March 10, while Wilkes-Barre sees green with its parade on Sunday, March 11.

Theater
Broadway Theatre League of Northeastern Pennsylvania has five more shows coming to Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave., in the new year: “A Chorus Line,” Friday, Feb. 23, through Sunday, Feb. 25; “The Illusionists Present Adam Trent,” Friday, March 2; “Kinky Boots,” Friday, March 16, through Sunday, March 18; “Chicago,” Friday, April 13, through Sunday, April 15; and “Beautiful — The Carole King Musical,” Tuesday, May 8, through Sunday, May 13. Ticket costs vary. 
Five Broadway vocalists — Jeanna De Waal, Jennifer DiNoia, Kara Lindsay, Kevin Massey and Jon Peterson — will perform hits from throughout the Great White Way’s history on Saturday, Feb. 3, at the Theater at North, 1539 N. Main Ave., Scranton. “Broadway Spotlight,” also includes behind-the-scenes stories and a question-and-answer session.
At F.M. Kirby Center, theater fans will find “Dirty Dancing — The Classic Story on Stage” on Wednesday, Jan. 31 and Thursday, Feb. 1; “Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery” on Wednesday, Feb. 7; “The Wizard of Oz” on Friday, April 13; and “Cabaret” on Thursday, May 17.
The region’s numerous amateur and student theatrical troupes will present shows throughout the year as well.

Comedy
Laugh throughout the year with comedy events all over the region.
Residents have the chance to see Jim Breuer at Gypsies Lounge inside Mount Airy Casino, 312 Woodland Road, Mount Pocono, Saturday, Jan. 13. Gypsies also hosts Bob Saget on Saturday, Feb. 3; Tracy Morgan Saturday, March 3; and Vic Dibitetto, Friday, April 6.
Breuer makes another stop in the area Wednesday, Feb. 28, at F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, which then hosts “Blue Collar Comedy” star Ron White on Thursday, March 8. Jerry Seinfeld will deliver two performances there Friday, April 6.
Kevin Hart brings his Irresponsible Tour to the region Friday, March 16, at 7 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre Twp. Crowds also can catch live comedy shows weekends at Wisecrackers Comedy Club inside Mohegan Sun Pocono, 1280 Highway 315, Plains Twp.

Concerts
Music fills Pavilion at Montage Mountain, 1000 Montage Mountain Road, Scranton, through the summer, with Camp Bisco gliding into the venue Thursday, July 12, through Saturday, July 14, and Peach Music Festival hitting the mountain, Thursday, July 19, through Sunday, July 22. Vans Warped Tour plays Scranton for the final time on Thursday, July 26, according to its website, although a venue was not announced. 
Mohegan Sun Arena also will host a couple big-name concerts, with country act Little Big Town, joined by Kacey Musgraves and Midland, coming Thursday, Feb. 22, and Judas Priest playing Tuesday, March 13.
Wyoming Seminary will host “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr. for a concert Wednesday, Jan. 17, in its Kirby Center for the Creative Arts, 260 N. Sprague Ave., Kingston.
At F.M. Kirby Center in downtown Wilkes-Barre, concert highlights include the inaugural Snow Show featuring Dashboard Confessional, presented by Alt 92.1 on Sunday, Jan. 28; Tedeschi Trucks Band, Thursday, Feb. 8; “American Idol” star Scotty McCreery, Saturday, Feb. 10; America, Thursday, Feb. 15; Blues Traveler, Wednesday, Feb. 28; Alice Cooper, Saturday, March 10; the Beach Boys, Saturday, March 24; Christopher Cross, Wednesday, April 4; the Drifters, Saturday, April 14; and Yanni, July 31.

By Gia Mazur and Caitlin Haney West

Annual Festival of Trees embraces 1920s theme

Annual Festival of Trees embraces 1920s theme

Branch out into the holidays with an exhibit that promises to be the bee’s knees.
The annual Festival of Trees exhibit kicks off this weekend with a Roaring ’20s theme, and people and groups from across the region decorated or created from scratch Christmas trees befitting of the Jazz Era.
This year’s exhibit runs from Friday, Dec. 8, through Friday, Jan. 12, in the former Abercrombie & Fitch store in the Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave., Scranton.
Exhibit admission is free except during the Dec. 8 opening reception, which runs from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and costs $20. Guests can nibble on hors d’oeuvres and listen to music from Gypsy Jazz Quintet. Proceeds from the show and reception benefit the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.
“It’s great that organizations, big and small, can come together for such a good cause and celebrate the season,” said Alysia Scazafabo, volunteer chairwoman of the festival. “Everyone gets the chance to come to the (marketplace) and see their creativity, too. This is a great event.”
Headed by Lackawanna County’s Office of Arts and Culture and its event-planning committee, lots of local organizations, volunteers and more all get together to brainstorm ideas and pull off this annual event, Scazafabo said. She described the 1920s as an important era of both social and political change and said organizers encouraged festival participants to use jazz, flappers, dance halls and speakeasies, Prohibition, airplanes, automobiles, film and more as inspiration from the pioneering decade.  
“The theme works out. Feedback has been great, and the trees so far has been pretty interesting,” Scazafabo said, adding that participants range from local schools to Leadership Lackawanna to women inmates of Lackawanna County Prison. “We crossed paths with some amazing people, and they’re very excited about the opportunity to show off their creativity.”
This year, guests can don their feathers, fringe, pinstripes and other pieces of ’20s fashion during the opening reception’s fancy dress contest. The winner will receive bragging rights as well as a $100 gift certificate for the Marketplace at Steamtown.
“It’s a fun excuse to get together and dress up,” Scazafabo said. “It will be exciting to see everyone dressed in that time period and embracing that style.”
Changing the theme each year adds a unique twist to keep an annual event like Festival of Trees fresh. Though, it’s participants’ imaginations that make the event a regional mainstay.
“The exhibit is about ‘Christmas trees,’ but some people are just so creative with how they interpret that along with the theme,” Scazafabo said. “You never know what you’re going to get.”
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If you go
What: Annual Festival of Trees
When: Friday, Dec. 8, through Friday, Jan. 12; opening reception and 1920s dress contest, Dec. 8, 5:30 to 8 p.m.
Where: Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave.
Details: Tickets for the opening reception are $20; admission for remaining dates is free. Proceeds benefit the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program. A Toys for Tots drop-off box will be inside Electric City Trolley Museum, 300 Cliff St., Scranton, during its hours of operation.

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.”

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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.”
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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.