Paul Praino began his career in pizza at the tender age of 12.
The Blakely native used to walk to Duke’s sports bar and pizza parlor at its former location in Peckville every day when he got out of school at Valley View, where he would work as a stockboy and kitchen prep cook for his uncle, Andy Venosh, who owned the business with a couple friends. From the start, the Midvalley establishment was known for its square trays, hot and cold hoagies, crisp salads and tasty wings.
But the standout on the menu became the Steak and Cheese Pizza, which was borne from a request by one of the bar’s best customers.
“It blew up, and it’s the reason we’re still here,” said Praino.
By 16 years old, Praino became a partial owner in the business. When his uncle fell ill and passed away, his other uncle, Bobby Venosh, took over and encouraged Praino to step in authority with Duke’s. They eventually opened a second location at 620 S. Blakely St., Dunmore, in April 2016, where Praino took the lead while Venosh stayed behind to manage the Peckville joint.
Praino long desired getting out of the bar business, though, so when Venosh died unexpectedly shortly after in May, Praino decided to leave the original Duke’s behind to build up the Dunmore carry-out spot.
With less than 10 seats around a handful of small tables, the space lends itself to more of a grab-and-go style, which suits Praino’s ideal business model. By eliminating waiting on people, he’s able to focus on the product, and making it the best it’s been in years.
He serves all square pizza, from the traditional red to the Polish pierogi-style Pagash to the Fresh Tomato, Basil and Garlic. The famous steak-and-cheese pies come double-crusted and can be customized with onion, peppers or mushrooms.
Praino also perfected his own wing sauce, the Peno, which is a sort of hot honey garlic flavor, and serves it up hot to order on the regular wings or boneless, which can be made baked for a healthier option.
The 12-inch hoagies come in all the standard varieties, while his homemade pierogies are rolled fresh in numerous combinations, like Potato and Cheese, Buffalo Chicken, Steak and Cheese and Jalapeno.
His newest addition to the menu is the invention of Duke’s Snackatizer, which is a sort of appetizer sampler pizza. It pairs cheese and a double-crust with onion rings, French fries and fried mozzarella and comes with a choice of dipping sauces.
“Some people do that with sandwiches and I thought, ‘Man, this could be good in a pizza. You could say the customers also helped with the idea.”
For help, Praino leans on his mother, Julia Venosh, and longtime pizza-making partner Gary Frisbie, who worked at the original Duke’s for 15 years and has known Praino’s family for more than two decades. They offer delivery during lunch to schools and local businesses, and do their best to stay active with local community groups, which was standard practice at the old Duke’s.
They’ve offered athletic scholarships and served pizza at games for years, and regularly help dance academies, kids’ groups and more with fundraisers. They donate pizzas often, and have been a popular presence at the annual St. Ubaldo festivities.
“Duke’s has always been heavily involved with the community. Very close-knit with the neighbors,” Praino said.
He also offers weeknight specials Mondays through Thursdays so that customers can try the food and various specials at discounted rates.
His greatest obstacle in the past year has been spreading the word about where he is now, but he credits his longtime faithful customers and the welcoming new faces he sees with making the business a continued success.
“The biggest challenge is being in one location for 27 years, and now people don’t realize we’re here,” Praino said. “But I want to thank all the loyal people who stuck with us, and the new Dunmore/Scranton customers who have given us a shot.”
— patrice wilding
Address: 620 S. Blakely St., Dunmore
Owner: Paul Praino
Cuisine: Pizza, hoagies, wings and salads
Hours: Mondays, 2 to 8 p.m.; Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 9 p.m.
Online: Follow the Duke’s Pizza Dunmore page on Facebook.
Donovan Leitch racked up plenty of honors over his career that indicate the power of his pop music, which listeners could describe as trippy, catchy, folky, poetic and transcendental all at once.
Among the Scottish-born singer/songwriter/guitarist’s credits are spots in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Mojo Maverick Award, the Ivor Novella Award and LifeTime BBCFolk Award, not to mention his numerous Top 20 hit songs, including “Sunshine Superman” and the follow-up, “Mellow Yellow.”
On Sunday, Donovan brings his 50th Anniversary Celebration tour to Wilkes-Barre for an intimate show at F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts. He recently spoke with electric city by email about some of the events and inspirations that shaped his storied musical catalog from the last five decades.
Q: Your tour celebrates 50 years. Tell us about how it feels to watch your music endure through every fad, emerging style or major culture shift of the last half-century. Why do you think it has survived the tests of time and taste?
A: The human journey remains the same from ancient times to now. My songs are of the same human journey. The ways to distribute music, art, literature and films have new platforms, but one thing never changes: the need for live music and the need of artists to create. Age has nothing to do with it, really; my songs are timeless.
Q: What design and vibe do you have in mind for this tour as far as the live performance planned?
A: Solo; cross-legged on my sheepskins; acoustic. Most all of the great songs are written on one instrument we songwriters all sat in parties on the floor playing. I know, as I asked Jimmy Page and all my other song pals. So, I decided to do my 50th (anniversary shows) as if you are sitting with me, at ease. The essence of the songs and some stories, too, that my best pal, Gypsy Dave (Mills), said, “No one will believe them. But then, truth is always stranger than fiction.”
Q: Tell us something about your days spent with John Lennon and other musical contemporaries and luminaries, and what it’s like to hear the influence of your music, your style and your presence incorporated into others’ work.
A: The Beatles and I know we come from the ancient Gaelic past: the Irish-Scots-Welsh. This heady Gaelic mix powers popular songs over the centuries. Gaelic poetry, music, theatrical and radical skills are evident on both sides of the Atlantic. It was obvious we five would be on the same path and invade popular culture with the Bohemian manifesto. Don’t be fooled by folk songs and pop suits and haircuts — there is a deeper flux that is loosely called the “British Sixties,” and it is Gaelic energy that has been preserved, as the Romans did not invade Ireland or Western Scotland. We five read the same books of the mysteries and sought out a guru to show us how to enter the Fourth Level of Consciousness within us all, to check what all the Vedic and mythic teachers reveal and open the Third Eye, to view the true reality with what is called (in the Indian Upanishads) Transcendental Super Conscious Vision.
In the Gaelic Mysteries, the invisible true reality within is called Avalon and the Living Crystal Faery Realm. We are poets in service to the tribes of man. We know that all change begins within. And we place in our songs guiding sounds to awaken the millions who have reincarnated into the planet to be done with the Lower Consciousness and be awake to and aware of the future: preservation of all life. Most humans live on three levels of consciousness: Waking, Dreaming and Dreamless Sleep. The Fourth Level is our natural Evolution of Consciousness unfolding, and we five — and many others — are involved in enlivening it sooner than later, for obvious reasons. For, to realize we are all the Unified Field within, dispels duality, and we see we are all the one indivisible wholistic event. I knew when I was making the “Sunshine Superman” album, it was the benchmark for all that would follow in folk, Celtic, jazz, psychedelia, rock, poetic, mythic and meditational music. All were announced on “Sunshine Superman,” I the herald of things to come. And my muse and wife, Linda, by my side, we two destined to meet again this life and continue the Great Work.
I was brought up by my Scots-Irish father reading me poetry of noble thought: Burns, Shelley, Wordsworth, Keats, Yeats, and the rambling poets, Service and Davies. And I listened to the songs of my family, songs handed down. I am aware of the immense influence of our Gaelic tradition. And I intuitively know that the poet’s role is to reunite the tribe with the source. It is always the shaman poet’s role to heal the invisible wounds. The teachings of the Northwestern shores of Europe — Scotland, Ireland Wales, Cornwall and Brittany — are well-known throughout history, and reincarnation a reality. And so my influence on others is because I incorporate and fuse the traditions of the Gaelic teachings. My students know they are receiving the real thing from the source. At the age of 14, I remembered who I had been in the previous life, and saw clearly I am a teacher of the future fusion of the world of spirit, art and culture.
Q: Is there a certain moment during a show you strive for each time? When you know you’ve officially connected with your audience?
A: When I walk onstage, it is a reconnection that happens. Not because they know the songs, moreso because the solo poet sings to the Inner Consciousness of the audience. And with the sounds of my mellifluous voice and moving vibrations of the guitar, it harmonizes all of us and heals any imbalances, which is why I like to go out in concert, because I need this as much as my audience. This means the audience and I, we balance each other. It’s symbiotic. And really should be — the true effect of art on us all.
Q: Will you share some of your favorite moments, anecdotes or memories from the last 50 years?
A: 1968: Twenty-thousand people in Madison Square Garden, just back from India, dressed in my Ashram gear. I walk onstage solo, and a wave of attention moves me like a strong wind, and I need to immediately sit cross-legged in case I fall over. I sing my softest song I know, “Isle of Islay.” Very rare New Yorker silence, and the audience are in awe. That night, I “broke the gate” at the Garden, earning more than any other solo artist in the Garden’s history (at the time). Before the concert, my New York Irish cops drove me through the traffic jam around the Garden. Later, one cop backstage told me, “(Ronald) Reagan was in his limo in the traffic jam on his campaign for California governor, and Reagan thought the traffic jam was for him.” My 10 Irish cops backstage all laughed.
Q: What would you like to say to your most faithful listeners and fans of the last 50 years? To your newest and youngest?
A: I thank all my friends who have followed me, and say welcome to my new, younger friends who have just discovered my poetic music. Many times I am thanked for helping, with my music and poetry, those difficult times on the journey through one’s present life. The ancient book of changes, the “I Ching,” says, “Music releases the obscure emotions of the heart.” If you come to my concert, you can experience it in person.
— patrice wilding
If you go
What: Donovan in Concert: 50th Anniversary Celebration
When: Sunday, June 4, 7 p.m.
Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
Details: Tickets are $25, $35 and $45, plus fees, and are available through the box office, online at kirbycenter.org or by calling 570-826-1100.
As the weather turns more moderate and the valley begins to bloom, the summer concert lineup for the Pavilion at Montage Mountain gears up to deliver months of music that spans numerous genres.
The 2017 season gets underway on Friday, May 19, and Saturday, May 20, with the fifth locally-produced Susquehanna Breakdown Music Festival, which spotlights local band Cabinet along with several other folk, bluegrass, Americana and alt-rock outfits. Additional acts slated include Keller Williams (who will sit in for a set with Cabinet), Greensky Bluegrass, the Wood Brothers, Billy Strings and fellow Northeast Pennsylvania groups And the Moneynotes, the Dishonest Fiddlers and Graham Mazer, among others.
As in the past, Susquehanna Breakdown offers two days of camping and vendors along with the music played over multiple stages. Festival director and co-promoter Bill Orner anticipates the biggest edition yet, judging by presale tickets, with the final count poised to hit almost 4,000, making it a sellout event.
“Overall, we’ve just grown with the ability to bring in some of the larger acts that are in Cabinet’s particular genre. The festival has grown to have a stature that (shows) we’re established,” Orner said. “We have more acts and agents coming to us, so our headliners increase in notoriety and marquee value.”
To maximize the guest experience, sets will not overlap, giving concert-goers the chance to travel between setups to see each act play. VIP music experiences will be available for upgraded purchase, and a vending village featuring a large variety of artisan foods, goods and crafts will remain open throughout the festival.
“What you’ll see is our local little flair, every kind of vendor you can imagine,” Orner said, which will include concert photography, a poster art gallery and other Breakdown-themed merchandise.
The festival is a family-friendly event, he added,
so music-lovers of all ages can enjoy the show and its
“There’s a little bit of food, shopping, art … It’s music, family and community, simply put,” Orner said. “It’s technically a festival, but the focus is on the music. We try to jam-pack it full and let the music do the talking.”
— patrice wilding
If you go
What: Susquehanna Breakdown Music Festival featuring Cabinet, Keller Williams, Greensky Bluegrass and more
When: Friday, May 19, gates open at 4 p.m.; and Saturday, May 20, gates open at 10 a.m.
Where: The Pavilion at Montage Mountain, 1000 Montage Mountain Road, Scranton
Details: Admission per person ranges from $50 for standing, two-day pass to $145 for VIP/camping, two-day pass. For tickets, visit the box office,
ticketmaster.com or call 800-745-3000.
For more information on the festival, visit susquehannabreakdown.com.
Susquehanna Breakdown Schedule
Friday, May 19
6:30 p.m. — Dishonest Fiddlers
8 p.m. — Keller Williams
9:30 p.m. — Keller & Cabinet
10:45 p.m. — Cabinet
12:15 a.m. — Organ Freeman
Saturday, May 20
11:30 a.m. — Serene Green
1:30 p.m. — Graham Mazer Duo
3 p.m. — Kitchen Dwellers
5:30 p.m. — And the Moneynotes
8 p.m. — Billy Strings
11 p.m. — Tom Hamilton’s
Breakdown All Stars
12:30 p.m. — Driftwood
2:15 p.m. — Cabinet (acoustic)
4 p.m. — The Wood Brothers
6:30 p.m. — Cabinet
9 p.m. — Greensky Bluegrass
12 a.m. — Turkuaz
2017 Concert Season
Friday, June 9
Impractical Jokers with the Tenderloins
Saturday, June 10
Dierks Bentley, Cole Swindell and Jon Pardi
Sunday, July 9
Lady Antebellum, Kelsea Ballerini and Brett Young
Monday, July 10
Vans Warped Tour
Thursday, July 13 through Saturday, July 15
Camp Bisco featuring the Disco Biscuits, Bassnectar and more
Tuesday, July 25
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Boston
Wednesday, July 26
OneRepublic, Fitz and the Tantrums and James Arthur
Thursday, Aug. 10 through Sunday, Aug. 13
Peach Music Festival featuring Widespread Panic, My Morning Jacket and more
Wednesday, Sept. 6
Luke Bryan and Brett Eldredge
The inspiration for Anne Griffiths’ military-themed restaurant, the Mess Hall, stemmed from the love within her own family.
The mom of two soldiers — Christopher, 28, in the Navy, and Chase, 20, with the Army — had her children in mind when she opened the American-cuisine eatery in April.
The space at 1064 Drinker Turnpike, Covington Twp., celebrates the accomplishments, bravery and dedication of the members of the Armed Forces in everything from the decor to the 15 percent discount offered to all on active duty or with veteran status.
Griffiths, a Gouldsboro resident, brought years of waitressing and managing experience to the business, but maintained a specific vision for what she wanted when she opened her own place.
“People thought I was nuts naming it the Mess Hall,” she said. “I think we’re all so busy in our own lives, we forget about the men and women serving and why we have our freedoms. I wanted them to think about it.
“When you eat here, you’re giving back, and you don’t even know it.”
Griffiths founded To Help a Friend Foundation, which gives back to military families in a variety of ways, whether it’s helping out spouses and kids who run into obstacles while a family member is deployed or making sure homeless vets have a place to stay and a hot meal to eat.
A collection box in the front of the restaurant collects donations, while a portion of the weekly food profits go to the fund. The Mess Hall gives back in sentimental ways, too, like the donated T-shirts and the small plastic toy soldiers that are free for the taking to remind customers to pray for those serving. So far, more than 1,500 tokens have been given away.
The atmosphere in the Mess Hall is undeniably patriotic, from the giant American flag draped across the front of the dining room to the large murals painted on the walls, one of which was drawn by a formerly homeless vet who lived in the restaurant for five months to work on it before it opened.
In one corner, a replica bunker was built, and one table set for two remains ever empty as a nod to those who remain missing-in-action. The walls have begun to fill up with framed photos of military personnel donated by diners as well as historic pictures of platoons and units. All manner of relics can be found scattered throughout, from MREs to used helmets to a jar of sand from Normandy beach.
On the menu, diners find an eclectic mix of breakfasts, lunches and dinners served six days a week. Saturdays and Sundays offer a made-to-order breakfast buffet (and chocolate fountain) manned by head chef Mario Santos and his fellow chef Joel Allman. Heartier dishes available for later meals include seafood platters like the Fra Diavolo, seafood bread bowl and loaded French fries and more than half a dozen gourmet varieties of foot-long hot dogs.
The restaurant is BYOB with seating for up to 30 at a time, though a new outdoor deck currently under construction will open this summer to add more room. The Mess Hall also offers catering and delivery within a 10-mile radius. Each day after 3 p.m., linens and seat covers adorn each table on site to transition into a more fine dining experience. The wait times occasionally run long, but Griffiths promises patience pays off.
“Nothing is frozen. It’s all made to order, so it takes longer, but it’s fresh,” she said.
Even more than the friendly service, bolstered in part by Griffiths’ own daughters, Destiny and Brittany, and the reasonably priced food, the camaraderie found within the Mess Hall draws a crowd.
“It’s like social hour in here,” Griffiths said. “This table asks that one, ‘When did you serve?’ They make friends, they take pictures by the mural and stay in touch.”
She also leaves her own impression her guests, choosing one (or sometimes several) veterans to honor each day with a meal on the house. She signs their check with the same note: “Thank you for your service. You’re my hero of the day.” It’s a gesture that’s earned heartfelt gratitude and occasionally tears from the recipients. And for Mother’s Day, she also has something special planned for her fellow military moms.
To Griffiths, it’s one more way to underscore the Mess Hall’s motto: “A place where memories are made.” And it’s another reason she said her sons are proud, even though they’ve only been able to see it in pictures while they’re away on duty.
“They think it’s awesome. They think we forget about them while they’re gone, but this shows them we’re always thinking of them,” Griffiths said.
— patrice wilding
The Mess Hall
Address: 1064 Drinker Turnpike, Covington Twp.
Established: April 8, 2017
Owner: Anne Griffiths
Hours: Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Online: Visit the restaurant Facebook page.
Chicken florentine from The Mess Hall. Jake Danna Stevens / Staff Photographer
Seafood Fra Diavolo with shrimp, clams, mussels and scallops from The Mess Hall. Jake Danna Stevens / Staff photographer
The Mess Hall owner Anne Griffiths with Executive Chef Mario Santos at The Mess Hall. Jake Danna Stevens / Staff photographer
Like most women juggling work, relationships and social activities, VanEssa Sites runs in circles.
Except most of the time, she does so literally — on skates, around a roller derby track, where she’s found friendship, sport and even celebrity.
The 32-year-old Dickson City resident has earned a fan base over the last eight years since she revealed her alter ego, “V-Diva,” to be a winning force in various leagues across the United States and abroad.
These days, Sites also coaches, which allows her to pass on the lessons she’s learned in life and the game to a whole new crop of fierce women.
“I didn’t have a lot growing up, and this is something I’m good at,” she said. “If diva means giving your best, then yes, I guess I am a diva.”
An Ocala, Florida, native, Sites moved to Northeast Pennsylvania at 15 years old, graduating from Towanda Area High School. She went on to earn an associate degree in architecture from Johnson College and studied education at Keystone College before returning to Florida, where she attended Disney University and performed in the theme park as a Main Street USA dancer.
Sites returned to NEPA again in 2008, just before she took up interest in roller derby. Intrigue struck her one night in a local bar when a group of players walked in “looking tough in fishnets,” Sites said.
She remembered watching roller derby on television and was a “rink-rat” when she was younger, so when the team invited her to a practice, Sites took them up on it. She earned her derby name when the coach called her a diva upon seeing the blue jeans and lip gloss she showed up wearing.
Sites joined the Coal City Rollers, where the sisterhood, friendships and even the brute physicality kept her hooked.
“If we’re having a bad day, we come in and hit each other and get our stress out,” Sites said with a shrug.
As she progressed, her natural talent became clear. Sites transferred to teams further and further away to work her way up in divisions and skill, and ended up with Philly Roller Derby by 2012. Over four seasons with the team, Sites took on leadership roles and joined the board of directors, but the responsibilities meant she lost the fun.
Knowing that her tenure in roller derby could only last so long (as with any contact sport), Sites decided to focus on joining a Division-I team to advance the ranks. She earned a spot with Gotham Girls Roller Derby, a New York City-based, five-time champion team with the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. Sites switched from a jammer (scoring points) to a pivot (blocker), and uncovered great success in the sport, traveling to 19 countries and racking up numerous titles and trophies over her career.
Through the years on the track, Sites has played for the national team under USA Roller Derby, most recently playing the World Cup in England in February, and also cofounded the Pennsylvania All-Star team, which pulls together the most elite skaters, and organized the Battle of the All-Stars, an interstate tournament. She’s been profiled by ESPN and has a strong fan following on social media and in real life from the crowds of thousands who come to her matches.
“I’ve learned so much. It’s not about the money, you do it for the love and passion of the sport,” Sites said. “I was a Bambi (the deer) on skates, and now look at me, wearing the Team USA jersey.”
Her regular commutes to practices in New York cost her about $13,000 annually, but her commitment to roller derby takes precedence over any of life’s other luxuries. She helps subsidize her lifestyle by working in direct care with the elderly at Wesley Village in Pittston, and also coaches the local Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Roller Radicals team. Working with new players helps her sharpen her own skills and strategies, but it also keeps her grounded, she said.
“I like helping people, seeing where their progress is. They’re building new muscles, learning to communicate,” Sites explained. “It’s a diverse, powerful women’s sport. And for people who don’t have sisters and families, this is a family.
“I know where I came from and want to keep that alive. That’s why I coach in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.”
And while picking up a new sport teaches plenty of lessons in itself, Sites also learned more about using her own voice as a tool of advocacy. A trans woman who transitioned more than 10 years ago through hormone therapy and surgeries, Sites only recently opened up about her personal life to her roller derby family — long after she had proven herself, she noted.
“I needed to find who I was, and I did. Now I help others. But I wanted it to be about my skating, and not what’s between my legs,” she said. “People think I have an advantage, but I feel like I have a parachute behind me. I get laid out by girls every day. But I should be proud of who I am, because you only get one life to live.”
Now that she’s hit her own professional milestones and found confidence enough to speak from experience, Sites focuses her outreach on others just coming out. With many fans and players looking up to her, the time seemed right to use her platform to embolden others. Sites shares daily inspiration videos and photos on her social media pages to encourage people who are in the same “shell” she once lived inside.
“The only reason I can do this is because of the sport I play. I know how it feels being in that spot. We’re all different, but if we were the same, it’d be a boring world,” Sites said.
“I want to remind people to keep doing their best. That’s what I love about roller derby,” she added. “It doesn’t matter if you’re short, fat, gay, trans, black — you have a spot. I’m happy I found it, because it gave me strength in who I am.”
— patrice wilding
Meet VanEssa Sites
At home: Lives in Dickson City with her boyfriend, Marcus Kerecman, and his daughter.
At work: She works in direct care at Wesley Village, Pittston, and coaches the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Roller Radicals, which she helped found. She also is a player with Gotham Girls Roller Derby, based out of New York City, and a member of Team USA for USA Roller Derby.
Inspirations: Fellow roller derby players and her support system of friends and family
Aspirations: To build a family and to win the Hydra championship with Gotham Girls
Diversions: Collecting owls; tattoos; Scranton Social Sports Club
Aversions: Judgmental people and cheaters
“If diva means giving your best, then yes, I guess I am a diva.”
Photos by Emma Black
Fashion fundraiser aims to help floral programs blossom
A good cause is always in vogue, and so fashionistas and philanthropists alike will gather for a common purpose at Fashion & Compassion, a fundraiser to benefit the Greenhouse Project’s community programs.
The event functions as a marketplace with a variety of local vendors, and Scranton native and celebrity stylist Marni Senofonte will be curate her must-have looks for the season and talk about her career working with the likes of Beyoncé, Ciara, Jay Z, Nicki Minaj and Lauryn Hill.
Tickets are $25 through eventbrite.com and include light fare and a cash bar. Proceeds from the event benefit Greenhouse Project program Petal Share PA, which aims to grow a healthy, sustainable community by repurposing donated flowers. The Greenhouse Project’s other efforts include horticulture therapy for elderly and vulnerable community members and creating a multi-generational space in Nay Aug Park.
Senofonte rose to prominence in her field after a stint as designer Norma Kamali’s assistant and working partnerships with brands such as Gucci, Roberto Cavalli and more. She maintains a large international audience on her popular Instagram account, @marnixmarni, where she models high-end fashions. Her mother, Kathee Sonofonte, spearheads Petal Share PA as its program director and brought her daughter into the fold to make the event a marquis happening.
Fashion & Compassion also is a NEPA Match Day event, with a guarantee from Scranton Area Community Foundation to match proceeds up to $1,000.
— patrice wilding
If you go
What: Fashion & Compassion fundraiser featuring guest speaker and celebrity stylist Marni Senofonte
When: Friday, April 28, 6 to 9 p.m.
Where: POSH at the Scranton Club, 404 N. Washington Ave.
Details: Tickets are $25, available at eventbrite.com, and include light fare, cash bar and a vendor marketplace. Proceeds benefit the Greenhouse Project’s program Petal Share PA and horticulture therapy for elderly and vulnerable community members.
Roll all night
As revelers heading to the 37th annual Rock 107 Birthday Bash gear up for the concert blowout tonight at the Woodlands Inn & Resort, Plains Twp., perhaps no one is more excited than Foghat’s Roger Earl.
“I love a party,” the drummer and sole remaining founding band member said.
Foghat hits the stage at approximately 10:30 p.m., and doors open at 7. Entertainment before the main act includes sets by Flaxy Morgan, 7800° Fahrenheit — A Tribute To Bon Jovi and Facing the Giants. The traditional giant birthday cake, door prizes and a cash bar also will be back for the 21-or-older event.
Earl spoke recently by phone from outside his sunny Florida studio, where the English group — known for the classic blues-rock hits “Slow Ride,” “Fool for the City” and “Drivin’ Wheel” plus a standout cover of “I Just Want To Make Love To You” — practices and records. He promised Birthday Bash guests a mixed bag of all the recognizable singles as well as a taste of his band’s newest album, “Under the Influence,” which continues Foghat’s signature catalog of funk-, blues- and R&B-infused rock music.
Citing artists like the late Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis, he explained that his music endures because its predecessors are rooted in rock history.
“It was always about the music with Foghat. Our biggest influence is blues music. … We altered it a bit to suit us. That music’s been here since the ’40s — if you count jazz and bebop in that heritage — and it’s still here,” Earl said. “Rock ‘n’ roll endured as part of an American tradition. I don’t think (it’s) a fad. (Late Foghat frontman) Lonesome Dave said it once: asked why he likes blues and rock, he said it has an honesty about it.
“It’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but we like it,” he added, joking, “That wasn’t our song, was it?”
Earl splits his time between homes in Florida and Long Island, New York, and several family members will travel to Northeast Pennsylvania for tonight’s show. Audiences at Foghat concerts have grown more multi-generational over the years, he noted, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We have some fans with us for many years we’ve been doing this, but I’m really excited turning younger folks and new fans on. We have a lot of young people turned on by grandparents and siblings. That’s what’s enabled the band to keep playing on,” Earl explained. “I feel very fortunate at this time in life that I can earn a decent living doing 60 or 70 shows a year.”
The band will mix up the setlist to keep longtime listeners and show-goers happy, and though the musicians might dance a little less on stage these days, Earl quipped, guests can expect an energetic show full of music they love.
“The selfish part of being a musician is we do it because we love doing it,” he said. “(But) I’m very grateful being able to do this. Life is real good.”
— patrice wilding
If you go
What: 37th annual Rock 107 Birthday Bash featuring Foghat
When: Tonight; doors open at 7 p.m.
Where: Woodlands Inn & Resort, 1073 Route 315, Plains Twp.
Details: Tickets are free through the Rock 107 mobile app, text and email club plus online at rock107.com. Guests also can buy tickets at the door for $15.
The spirit of French beauty and decadence makes its way into the convention center at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Sunday for the 30th annual Gourmet Gala.
Under the theme “Springtime in Paris,” more than 40 local restaurants present sumptuous appetizers, entrees and desserts for the major fundraiser that benefits Ronald McDonald House of Scranton.
Organizers set a goal of $80,000 this year, which will fund the house at 332 Wheeler Ave., Scranton, plus satellite rooms in three area
hospitals that provide respite for families of pediatric patients.
Picture Perfect Band provides entertainment from 5 to 8 p.m., and the casino offers free valet parking for guests. Admission is $45 at the door, which grants guests access to a wide variety of samples from area eateries.
Waverly Twp. resident Kathy Nelson co-chairs the event this year with Peggy Hennemuth and expects upward of 1,000 people to attend. Nelson worked on the annual fundraiser for the last four years, first by rounding up restaurants to participate and then by taking on a greater role with Ronald McDonald House after she toured the Scranton home.
“Once I did that, I was hooked. It’s a great cause,” Nelson said. “They help families really when they need it most.”
The Parisian theme came to mind in light of a trip to France she made with her husband a few years back.
“I loved it. First of all, it’s a beautiful city, and from what I hear, springtime there is spectacular,” she said. “Spring, to me, is a season of hope, so that’s kind of what we’re looking for.”
To bring Paris to Northeast Pennsylvania, she hired designer John Mackey to transform the event space with flowers and decorations. Nelson also reverted back to the original floor plan of years past, which makes room for several aisles of vendors and offers better traffic flow. Last year’s setup didn’t work as well for guests, she said, so she hopes they’ll return to enjoy the redesigned pattern, which also includes two entrances.
Mostly, she and Hennemuth look forward to seeing (and tasting) the creative ways restaurants interpret the theme.
“There will be a little bit of everything,” Nelson said. “Some really get into it. They often dress up and make it fun.”
— patrice wilding
If you go
What: “Springtime in Paris” — 30th annual Ronald McDonald House Gourmet Gala
When: Sunday, 5 to 8 p.m.
Where: Mohegan Sun Pocono,
1280 Route 315, Plains Twp.
Details: Admission is $45 at the door, or call 570-969-8998 for tickets. For more information, visit www.rmhscranton.org.
• A Little Pizza Heaven
• Angelo’s Italian Ristorante
• Ambers Restaurant & Bar
• Andy Gavin’s Eatery & Pub
• Arcaro & Genell
• Bazil Ristorante Italiano
• BBQ by Barry’s B3Q Smokehouse
• Bartolai Winery
• Bella Faccias Personalized
Chocolates & Gifts
• Cafe Rinaldi
• Camelot Restaurant & Inn
• Constantino’s Catering & Events
• Cooper’s Seafood House
• Down Home Rice Pudding
• Edible Arrangements
• Fire and Ice on Toby Creek
• The French Manor:
Pocono Bed & Breakfast
• Gerrity’s Supermarkets
• Gertrude Hawk Chocolates
• Glider Restaurant
• Harvest Seasonal Grill
& Wine Bar
• Holiday Inn Wilkes-Barre —
• Isabella Restaurant and Bar
• La Buona Vita
• LongHorn Steakhouse
• Loose Moose Cottage
at Great Wolf Lodge
• Manning Farm Dairy
• Market Street Bar & Grill
• McDonald’s restaurants
of Greater Scranton
• Mendicino’s Italian Specialities
• Moses Taylor Hospital Culinary
• Nibbles & Bits
• Nimble Hill Vineyard & Winery
• Olde Brook Inn
• Peggy’s Wing Sauce
• P.J. Brown’s Restaurant
• Pocono Provisions
• POSH at the Scranton Club
• Rustic Kitchen
• Ruth’s Chris Steak House
• State Street Grill
• Stirna’s Restaurant
• Terra Preta
• Truly Scrumptious
• Villa Maria II
• Wolfgang Puck Express
From classic to cliché, parade fashion all about taste
For many, a true hallmark of Parade Day is dressing in theme with the celebration.
Walking through downtown on Saturday will have most seeing green — in a spectrum of shades, such as Kelly green, hunter green, fern, avocado, lime, shamrock and chartreuse. Add hints of orange and white, and you hit the triad of colors found in the Irish flag.
Plenty of local costume and party-supply stores, such as Cal-Ideas in Dunmore or Party City in Dickson City, offer zany accessories such as green wigs, buttons, beads, socks, feather boas, stickers and temporary tattoos. Graphic T-shirts with Irish puns, phrases and mascots are big sellers, too.
But showing your pride doesn’t mean you need to buy everything green in the store. Many area residents prefer a more classic, traditional approach to celebrating their heritage.
Timeless pieces such as cable-knit Aran
or merino wool sweaters and cardigans, claddagh jewelry, tweed suits and newsboy caps
all hark back to the culture of the Emerald Isle, and can be found online or locally in shops such as Cronin’s Irish Cottage in the Marketplace at Steamtown.
Take an even more subtle approach and honor Irish designers — wear a fascinator in homage of famed milliner Philip Treacy, whose detailed, delicate hats and head accessories made him a favorite of European royalty. Or, for those who know their ancestral history and can trace it back to a specific region or county in Ireland, kilts carry the story of lineage through specific tartan designs and colors.
Whether showy or restrained, Parade Day fashion can make for great conversation starters.
— patrice wilding
Clarks Summit’s Festival of Ice returns this weekend with a theme sure to give you chills — and multiply them.
The 13th annual festival kicks off Friday with a variety of family-friendly activities and attractions. Visitors can check out close to 50 ice sculpture variations on the “Ice, Lights, Broadway!” theme, including homages to “Grease,” “Hamilton,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “West Side Story,” among other beloved musicals.
Admission and parking are free all weekend. For an official map, sculpture list and updates, visit the Facebook event page. Addresses listed below are in Clarks Summit unless otherwise noted.
Noon to 2 p.m.: Live music by Just Us Duo, Citizens Savings Bank, 538 S. State St.
1 to 3 p.m.: Live music by Ken McGraw and Joe Cole, Abington Community Library, 1200 W. Grove St.
2:30 to 3:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, MetLife, 1028 Morgan Highway
3:30 to 4:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, Toyota of Scranton, 3400 N. Main Ave., Scranton
5 to 6 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, Crystal Cabin Fever, Purdytown Turnpike, Lakeville
5 to 7 p.m.: Live music by Tom Rogo, Golden Coast, 535 S. State St.
5:30 to 7 p.m.: Complimentary trolley tour of the festival with on/off stops at Everything Natural, 426 S. State St.; Depot Street; and First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit, 300 School St.
6 to 8 p.m.: Northeast Photography Club art show opening reception, First Presbyterian Church
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.: Family Fun Faire with DJ Jack Martin, storytelling with Chris Archangelo, children’s complimentary face painting by Happy Faces and post-parade juggling performance by Rob Smith, the Gathering Place, 304 S. State St.
7:30 p.m.: Festival of Ice Parade throughout downtown along South State Street
10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Live music by Mark Woodyatt, Peoples Security Bank & Trust Co., 1100 Northern Blvd., South Abington Twp.
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, Peoples Security Bank & Trust Co.
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Northeast Photography Club art show, First Presbyterian Church
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Children’s Art Show (with Northeast Photography Club), Barry’s Art Room, First Presbyterian Church
Noon to 2 p.m.: Photobooth by Dynamic Duo Entertainment, the Gathering Place
Noon to 1:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, Frontier Communications, 108 N. State St.
Noon to 5 p.m.: Horse-and carriage-rides, outside the Gathering Place (tickets are $3, available at Clarks Summit borough building, 304 S. State St.)
1 to 3 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration plus live music by Von Storch Project, Everything Natural
1 to 3 p.m.: Live music with Mike Waskovich, Clel’s Place, 120 Barrett St.
1:30 p.m.: All About Theatre special adult theater group original play performance, the Gathering Place
2 p.m.: Broadway Musical Revue with Erin Malloy Marcinko, First Presbyterian Church
2:30 p.m.: Jill and Gehred Wetzel dance performance, the Gathering Place
3:30 to 5 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, Toyota of Scranton
4 to 5 p.m. Live ice-carving demonstration, Gerrity’s Market, 100 Old Lackawanna Trail
5 to 7 p.m.: Live music by Lights Out, La Tonalteca Mexican Restaurant, 821 Northern Blvd.
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, State Street Grill, 114 S. State St.
11 to 12:30 p.m.: Live Broadway Brass with Brass Reflections, the Gathering Place
Noon to 5 p.m.: Horse-and-carriage rides from the Gathering Place (tickets are $3, available at borough building)
1 to 3 p.m.: Drop-in children’s craft, Abington Art Studio, 208 Depot St.
1 to 3 p.m.: Live music by Dixieland All Stars, Gerrity’s Market
1 to 3 p.m.: Live music by Doreen Coleman, Everything Natural
1:30 p.m.: All About Theatre Junior Actors original play performance, the Gathering Place
2:30 p.m.: All About Theatre Senior Actors original play performance, the Gathering Place
3 to 5 p.m.: Live music by Old Man River Band, the Gathering Place
4 p.m.: “Ice, Lights, Cabaret!” performance, First Presbyterian Church
Festival of Ice Golden Ticket Scavenger Hunt: Pick up entry form at any location with an ice sculpture, then visit all nine Festival of Ice zones to find the hidden Golden Ticket. List each ticket location and drop off completed entries by Monday at 5 p.m. at any participating location. Random drawing from completely correct entries will be held after the festival.
Also, check with Clarks Summit-area businesses throughout the weekend for specials and giveaways.
— patrice wilding
Legendary British actor John Cleese brings ‘Holy Grail’ to F.M. Kirby Center
Comedy legend John Cleese promises to answer more than “these questions three” and allow “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” fans insider access to the movie’s world of humor.
The famed British actor, who co-wrote the Camelot farce and starred as its Sir Lancelot the Brave, appears on stage for a conversation and Q&A following a screening of the 1975 classic on Saturday at F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, Wilkes-Barre.
During a recent phone interview from Los Angeles, where he rested in the sun after an exhaustive 30-city tour with fellow Monty Python co-founder Eric Idle, Cleese revealed why people need a laugh now more than ever. As followers of his Twitter page know, Cleese closely follows world and American politics, and he has engaged in public discourse regarding the results of the recent presidential election.
“Eric and I said it was our jobs as Limeys to cheer the Americans up,” the 77-year-old said. “(President Donald Trump) doesn’t seem to have any of the qualifications. I wouldn’t immediately call him a gentleman, particularly regarding his remarks to women.
“I am worried he’s only taking one security briefing a week when (President Barack) Obama takes six. It’s an unnecessary risk to take.”
His distinct brand of absurdist comedy offers a timely departure from the post-election blues for many, especially those who established a cult following of the Monty Python movies and sketch-show bits.
“They often know the lines better than we do. It’s an extraordinary thought, it really is,” Cleese said. “What a nice bunch of fans we have. They don’t take life too serious. They’re sort of warm and friendly, so you couldn’t play for a better crowd.”
While diehards can quote his most celebrated jokes and lines verbatim, Cleese continues to evolve his comedy through innovative means. Whether it’s adapting his hit BBC show “Fawlty Towers” for the Australian stage or promoting a “Ministry of Silly Walks” app for mobile devices, he learned to rebrand the familiar for new audiences and mediums.
“People actually want to see the old stuff. The irony is, people — artists — always want to do something new, but people who put shows on want something old and familiar,” Cleese explained. “So we’re caught in a bit of a quandary: do stuff you want to do, and we try to find a way of doing some old stuff in a way that’s reasonably new.”
Incorporating the Q&A into his appearances is one way to guarantee a different, quality show every night. That, and getting plenty of sleep beforehand.
“You need to go rested, with energy. That’s how these things work, or else it doesn’t have that bounce,” Cleese said. “It’s much more interesting to interact than to stand and say the same thing you said in the past.
Audience members write out their questions, he added, and “we go through them to pick out the best ones.”
“We go off in all sorts of directions,” Cleese said. “We don’t know where we’re going. What is nice about it is the interaction.
“Some work is hard, some work is a bit of a grind, and some is just downright pleasant. And since I still have to make money, this is the nicest way to do it.”
— patrice wilding
If you go
What: Screening of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” followed by John Cleese on stage for conversation and a Q&A
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
Details: Tickets start at $79.50, plus fees, and are available at the box office, online at www.kirbycenter.org and by calling 570-826-110.
Escape winter blues with new experiences
When the winter doldrums kick in, some people make their way outdoors for fun in the snow.
But for those who prefer to stay warm indoors, Northeast Pennsylvania offers plenty of ways to stay entertained and engaged during the coldest part of the year.
Weekend Times takes a look at some of the creative and cozy ways to beat your cabin fever and post-holiday blues.
Whether you maintain a practiced hand or never picked up a brush, group paint nights are a trendy way to delve into the art world.
Spirited Art Scranton, 253 Scranton-Carbondale Highway, Dickson City (in the Fashion Mall shopping plaza), boasts a robust calendar that includes sketching/drawing lessons, “Mommy and Me” classes as well as “tween,” family and fundraising events. Private parties for birthdays, reunions and other special occasions can be arranged for groups big or small. The studio provides all materials and helpful instruction, and guests are invited to take snacks and beverages. For more information, visit myspiritedart.com/scranton or call 570-507-1560.
Many fine art galleries offer guided instruction for novice or advanced artists, too. AFA Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave., hosts drawing socials Sundays from 6 to 10 p.m., and Tuesday night figure drawing from 7 to 9 each week. ArtWorks Gallery & Studio, 503 Lackawanna Ave., offers classes for adults with special needs, including sculpture, print-making, mixed media, drawing and painting. For more information, visit
artworksnepa.com or call 570-207-1815.
Plenty of bars and restaurants also offer special paint-night events, so check for more local art events frequently.
The weather outside is frightful, but indoor water parks across Northeast Pennsylvania offer warm temps and year-long pool play.
Visit H20ooohh!! in Lake Harmony, a family water park adjacent to the Galleria at Split Rock Resort that features five body, tube and raft slides; a wavepool; activity pool and more. Visit splitrockresort.com/waterpark for booking and information.
Camelback Resort in Tannersville is home to Aquatopia, which houses 13 tube-, body-, mat-, bowl- and aqua-launch capsule slides as well as several “kiddie” slides. Go to
camelbackresort.com for rates, hours and reservations.
Great Wolf Lodge in Scotrun offers numerous options in its indoor water park, where guests can enjoy a lazy river, slideboarding, raft rides and body-drop tubes plus cabanas. Visit greatwolf.com/poconos for more information.
Kalahari Resort in Pocono Manor has its own indoor water park set beneath a retractable roof. Experience the water roller coaster, lazy river and various kids’ areas spread over 100,000 square feet. Visit
Find the exit
Escape rooms are an up-and-coming experience-based, immersive group activity that have taken hold of NEPA. Electric City Escape, housed in the historic Scranton Electric Building, 507 Linden St., is described as a place of “physical adventure games, where players are locked in a room and have to find clues, break codes and open locks in a series of puzzles within 60 minutes in order to win.” The Scranton location offers several spins on this premise for $25 per person, including “Escape the Art Gallery” for two to eight people and “Escape the PI’s Office” for two to six people. New in January are “Escape No. 109 Mine” for two to eight people and “NEPA Virus” for larger groups of 10 to 30. To register or learn more, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 570-862-8858.
Or, try PA Escape Rooms, 350 Main St., Dickson City, where a Game Master watches guests via camera to help with hints if they get stuck in Pirates Cove, KAOS or The Heist scenarios. Admission is $25 and open to all ages and abilities. Visit www.paescaperooms.com or call 570-382-8902 for booking and more information.
— patrice wilding
Home is where the heart is, but for many local artisans, it’s also where the market resides.
For area natives who feel homesick or current residents simply bursting with hometown pride, products that feature the names, images and memories of Northeast Pennsylvania make great gifts.
Here’s a helping of creative, NEPA-inspired items sure to please everyone on your holiday list this year. Support local artists, lavish your loved ones, and recall what makes Scranton and surrounding towns so special with these Pennsylvania-themed presents.
Tig and Cooney’s
Lisa Malsberger designs a variety of products that feature the names and geographies of cities, towns and boroughs throughout NEPA. Her napkins stamped with Scranton, Abingtons and Moscow areas retail for $18 each, two for $35 and four for $60; handkerchiefs with Scranton or the Abingtons run $20 each; and bandanas depicting Scranton, Abingtons, Moscow, Mid Valley and Valley View areas are available in limited quantities for $20 each.
“We all have a story of where we’ve come from, and we have pride in our story and our hometown,” Malsberger explained. “Maps tell that story, and they are timeless. Even though a specific place or person may change, the map stays the same. It’s a comforting constant.
“I specifically use vintage maps (from the ’60s and ’70s). These gifts are unique but also are for anyone; they’re not gender- or age-specific,” she added. “I’ve given these gifts to my 88-year-old grandmother, who will recall an area on the map where she went to school or walked over a bridge to her friend’s house. And I’ve also given them to my (almost) 10-year-old nephew, who our family will show where his mother and father grew up when they were his age. Everyone can appreciate an area on a map and point out a place that brings back a memory.”
Buy it: Online at www.tigandcooneys.com or at Lavish Body & Home, 600 Linden St., Scranton, and the Waverly General Store, 1201 North Abington Road, Waverly Twp.
Made in small batches and poured into hand-cut, repurposed bottles, these soy wax candles are produced in Scranton and feature familiar names and brands, such as Crystal Club, Mid-Valley Quality Beverage, B-1, Dixie Spring Beverage and Finn’s Beverages. Prices range from $10 for small sizes to $22 for the largest.
“So many of the older, big brands were designed with great bottles and logos. But there were also local smaller brands,” said Andrew Planey, who sells WaxJunky. “At one time, every area had a local bottling company that made all kinds of different flavors. These company logos and descriptions were super cool.
“The bottles were also made to last. With thick glass and screen-printed labels, the bottles would last through hundreds of refills,” he added. “These bottles deserve a second life. They are just made to be repurposed. Not everyone wants to put a bottle on their shelf — but everyone likes candles.”
Buy it: Online at www.waxjunky.com or at On&On, 518 Lackawanna Ave.
Valerie Kiser Designs
Scranton-based artist Valerie Kiser brands high-end pillows, sweatshirts, T-shirts, baby onesies and ornaments with her spin on the iconic “Electric City” sign that illuminates the downtown each night.
Items range in price from $15 to $75 for men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, and $16 to $85 for house and lifestyle items.
“(My company) is founded on creating clean and simple designs that are unique — but familiar — for hand-printed clothing, accessories and home decor, with a niche market for custom design for individuals and businesses,” Kiser said. “I feature local icons in my design because I was looking for a way to be more connected to myself and my community.”
Buy it: Online at www.valeriekiserdesign.com or at Lavish Body & Home, 600 Linden St.
Whether you spent your childhood in the Electric City or you simply know a fan of the familiar Scranton skyline, ScrantonMade’s mugs keep hometown memories warm and close at hand.
Mugs are $12 each or $20 for a pair.
“ScrantonMade celebrates all things local, and we like to show our Scranton pride with assorted merchandise like the best-selling cityscape mugs,” said Cristin Powers, the company’s founder. “They are the perfect gift for anyone that was born and raised here. Or, for those who have moved on to another city: we know your heart is still in Scranton.”
Buy it: Online at www.scrantonmade.com.
Steamtown souvenirs and collectibles
The sounds of trains chugging and whistling their way through the Lackawanna Valley remain a welcome sensory memory for many NEPA natives. Visitors to Steamtown National Historic Site can pick up souvenirs at the park, but online shoppers, too, have the opportunity from afar to purchase collectibles that depict the region’s railroad heritage.
Magnets, patches, pins, mugs, books and DVDs are among the cache of Steamtown-themed items available, as are wooden train and Union Pacific “Big Boy” 4012 ornaments. Everything on the site, including an album of historic railroad songs and a Steamtown pocket watch, retails for less than $20. Proceeds from online sales are donated to the National Park Service.
Buy it: Online at eparks.com (search for Steamtown), visit the Museum Shop and Bookstore at the park (350 Cliff St.), or call 570-340-5213.
For history and trivia buffs
The Times-Tribune teamed up with local organizations, including Lackawanna Historical Society, in the past year to market a pair of items that explore Scranton’s roots and idiosyncrasies and celebrate the city’s 150th anniversary.
“You Live Here! You Should Know This!” Trivia Quest, Scranton and Lackawanna County edition, makes learning fun with a board game the whole family can enjoy. It’s priced at $19.95, and proceeds benefit the historical society.
Buy it: Online at www.TriviaQuestScranton.com or at local businesses, such as Everything Natural in Clarks Summit and Library Express in the Marketplace at Steamtown, Geisinger Community Medical Center, Nina’s, Gerrity’s supermarket, POSH at the Scranton Club, Duffy Accessories and Southside Seafood, all in Scranton.
Gift-givers also can pick up copies of the hardcover coffee table book “Scranton, the First 150 Years: 1866-2016,” which includes archival newspaper and submitted photos that show life in the Electric City over the last century and a half. The books are $44.95, plus tax.
Buy it: During regular business hours at The Scranton Times Building, 149 Penn Ave. For more information, call 570-348-9100.
— patrice wilding
The Ataris first earned chart-topping success for a pop-punk cover of Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer,” but now the group brings its winter tour to Scranton for a dose of cold-weather rock.
The band behind hits such as “In This Diary” and “The Saddest Song” plays Thursday at 6 p.m. at The Leonard Theater, 335 Adams Ave. In a recent phone interview from the Chicago area, lead singer, rhythm guitarist and founding member Kristopher Roe said the band looks forward to returning to the Electric City as a sort of winter vacation.
Since forming in 1996, the band played Vans Warped Tour and headlined several other cross-country tours in support of its music catalog, which combines influences as diverse as the Replacements, Foo Fighters and Tom Waits. The newest songs show a more personal side of the band, explained Roe, the main lyricist.
“I like more singer-songwriter-storyteller lyrics with vivid imagery,” he said. “I’m from the Midwest originally, so I like that sad, broken beauty you find in small-town Americana. I think every song needs these kinds of in-depth, detailed pictures, like little postcards.
“That became more what this band was about and fans related to as I got better as a songwriter. Musically, the songs are straight-forward rock-and-roll songs, but big, kind of atmospheric and droney, with pretty, lush breakdowns.”
It’s a marked maturation since the band’s days of popularity in the underground, DIY market that appeals to teen fans. Much of the old audience grew up with the group, but the evolution of its sound brings in new listeners, too.
For Ataris supporters old and new, Roe promised a show of old material that sounds new, and new material that harkens back to classic rock artists who inspired the band.
“We’re very no-frills, just two guitars, bass and drums,” he said. “I like honesty and unpredictability, that danger that was in rock-and-roll bands in the ’60s and ’70s and ’90s, like Nirvana, that’s lost on newer bands.
“Being in a band for so long, we definitely see the songs have taken on a new life. When you see us live, we play the songs we feel as a fan you’d want to see, fan favorites. I feel stronger as a live band. There’s a lot more energy; you just have to come out and see it. We evolve on the songs and try to make it different live. We mix it up every night the way the songs come across.”
Despite some lineup changes over the years, the Ataris remain as polished and tight as ever, thanks to a shared mentality among band members happy to still play music for a living.
“In the studio, the band is a very angular, focused thing. With the live lineup, there’s an energy and vibe of four individuals playing off each other,” Roe said. “For me, the most important thing is the crowd. You feed off the energy.
“Hopefully, people have as much fun as we do. As long as you’re out doing what you love and giving it your heart, there’s not a day in my life I don’t feel blessed or grateful to be doing what I love.”
The world was in turmoil when Harry Wayne “KC” Casey started making music as the founder and leader of KC and the Sunshine Band.
It was the early 1970s, and everything from the Vietnam War to the oil crisis threatened to overcome people across the country in grief. KC sat down to write some of the most enduring pop and disco hits to transport listeners to a happier place.
“I felt music got very dark, so I wrote music that is high-energy and uplifting,” he explained during a recent phone interview from Hawaii. “That’s what it was created to do.
“It’s still doing that for people, and I couldn’t be happier. I feel that’s been my purpose.”
The maestro behind songs like “Boogie Shoes,” “Get Down Tonight,” “Shake Your Booty” and “Keep It Comin’ Love” makes his way to Keystone Grand Ballroom at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Plains Twp., on Sunday, Nov. 20, at 8 p.m.
Guests at the show will relive all the hits, including “I’m Your Boogie Man” and “That’s The Way (I Like It),” though the band’s classics never strayed far from the limelight thanks to appearances in modern movies, commercials and song samples.
“When you start creating this art — which it is art — you’re not even thinking of where it’s going to end up from that moment on,” KC said. “It’s flattering. It’s a really great feeling. I’m happy when I see I’ve influenced someone’s creativity, because it’s an honor to be thought of that way.”
KC insisted that picking a favorite song or album from his Grammy Award-winning catalogue was like asking someone to choose their favorite child. He acts as his own worst critic, too, when it comes to delivering a standout performance.
“I give 200 percent every night,” KC said. “The audience, too, controls a lot of what happens. When they’re really feeling it, I’m really feeling it. People pay money to come see us, and I want them to be fully entertained.
“I encourage everybody in the band to fully participate and be involved and bring something different to the show every night,” he added. “I think it’s important to feel like they got their money’s worth. If you want to have a good time, it’s the show to come to. Get a little crazy, baby. Leave your troubles at the door, and come in and have fun.”
— patrice wilding
If you go
What: KC and the Sunshine Band
When: Sunday, Nov. 20, 8 p.m.
Where: Keystone Grand Ballroom, Mohegan Sun Pocono, 1280 Route 315, Plains Twp.
Details: Tickets are $29 through $119, available online at www.ticketmaster.com and though Ticketmaster outlets.