Jam camp Festival opens season at Pavilion at Montage Mountain

Jam camp Festival opens season at Pavilion at Montage Mountain

Camp Bisco music festival features acts ranging from EDM to jam music to hip-hop to rock.
Started in the late ’90s as the brainchild of the Disco Biscuits, a Philadelphia-born jam band, Bisco found a home in Northeast Pennsylvania in 2015. The festival returns to the Pavilion at Montage Mountain from Thursday, July 12, to Saturday, July 14.
The event continues to grow with thousands of music festival lovers — called “festies” — descending on the mountain each year to dance, sing, meet friends and share in a love of live music. Electric City put together a handy guide to the sights, sounds and tastes of Camp Bisco.

The essentials
Camp Bisco is a three-day long music festival at 1000 Montage Mountain Road, Scranton. Guests with RV passes may arrive Wednesday, July 11, at 4 p.m. Those with VIP camping parking passes can arrive at 8 p.m., and all other guests may arrive at 10 p.m. Single-day passes start at $90.50 for Friday or Saturday. Three-day passes start at $249.50 for general admission and $549.50 for VIP. Camp Bisco guests must be 18 or older with a valid ID.
Camp Bisco takes place rain or shine, so guests should come prepared with sunscreen, bug spray, rain gear, extra clothes and shoes, mud boots, hats for shade and factory-sealed water bottles.

What Camp Bisco provides
There will be refillable water stations on festival and camping grounds, as well as phone-charging stations, ATMs and 24-hour medical service and on-site emergency personnel. Camp Bisco’s General Store also will be stocked with essential items festival-goers may need, including soda, water and ice. Cases of beer also will be available for purchase by those 21 or older.

Fuel up
Dancing to live music works up an appetite, and Camp Bisco fans can grab food and drink at dozens of concession and vendor stands across the festival grounds. There will be typical concert hand-held foods plus some festival and carnival favorites and produce from farmer’s markets. Vegetarian options will be available as well. Guests also can cool off with a variety of beverages from mixed drinks to craft, imported and domestic beers for those 21 and older to soda, water and more.

The music

MIKE RYAN / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER Electronic rock jam band Lotus will perform during Camp Bisco music festival at the Pavilion at Montage Mountain, which runs from Thursday, July 13, through Saturday, July 15.

More than 50 acts will perform during Camp Bisco, including five sets from the Disco Biscuits across three days.
The music kicks off Thursday at 3:30 p.m. with performances from Tipper, Bonobo, STS9, Boogie T, Boombox, Buku, G Jones, Jai Wolf, Lettuce, Snails, Ducky, Kidswaste, Naughty Professor, Space Bacon and Squnto (Megachop).
On Friday and Saturday, music begins at 10:30 a.m. Friday will include performances from Bassnectar, Lotus, 12th Planet, Anna Lunde, Desert Dwellers, the Floozies featuring Terminus Horns, the Funk Hunters, Papadosio, Quinn XCII, Space Jesus, Sunsquabi, Bass Physics, Bluetech, Cofreshi, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, the Hip Abduction, King Fu, Let’s Danza!, Mungion and Yheti.
On Saturday, crowds can catch sets from Excision, Illenium, Big Wild, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Ghostface Killah, Liquid Stranger, Mija B2B Justin Jay, Oliver Tree, Space Jesus (Downtempo), Tauk, Zion I x Lespecial, Agent Zero, Flamingosis, Horizon Wireless, Magic Beans, Orchard Lounge, Probcause and Zeke Beats.
Schedule, set times and lineup are subject to change. For updated set times, fans can download the Camp Bisco mobile app for Apple and Android.

Music guides Scranton singer-songwriter through recovery

Music guides Scranton singer-songwriter through recovery

Scranton singer-songwriter Amanda Rogan was diagnosed with her first chronic illness, hypothyroidism, at 13.
Not long after, she also learned she had Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. And at 24, Rogan developed endometriosis, which caused her to undergo several serious surgeries in the span of a year.
But through all of her doctors’ appointments, surgeries and even a cancer scare, writing, recording and performing her music remained a source for healing and positivity.
“I try to talk about my struggles to help other people, for them to see that they are not alone and maybe find some sort of comfort or inspiration in my personal story,” the 26-year-old said.
In April, Rogan, who performs under the moniker Sweetnest, released her debut album, “Until Now.” She recently went On the Record to discuss the creation of that album while dealing with her chronic illnesses and what she plans for her future as a musician.

Q: How did you choose your stage name, Sweetnest?
A: I was in recovery after my latest surgery when I began to read more and write more, paying attention to words and phrases that I liked, specifically ones that carried a warm and comforting feeling. I eventually came across sweetness, which is a word I’ve always adored and called my loved ones. I then decided to try “Sweetnest” (as a play on words) and define it how I personally wanted to understand it. That definition is a safe space, one of comfort and authenticity. A place to be held and supported, always in existence, within or outside of the self. This message is also written on the back of the physical copies of “Until Now.”

Q: You just released your debut album, “Until Now.” How long were you working on writing and recording it?
A: The album itself took roughly six months to record, produce, mix and master. It was all done at JL Studios in Olyphant. They were remarkable and made the process much smoother for me. As for the songs, some of them are 12 years old, while others are less than a year old. And since all of my songs consisted mainly of just ukulele and vocals, nearly all of the instrumental was written and formed in studio. Focusing on creating this was a saving grace and perfect place to put my energy during a very stressful and scary time in regards to my health.

Q: How does it feel to have your music out there for people to consume whenever they choose?
A: It really feels amazing, honestly. I finally feel like I have something to show for all of my years of writing and playing music, and I really am proud of it all. I used to walk around and say, “Hey! I have a bunch of original songs,” but when people asked how they could listen to them, there wasn’t a way. But now I am beyond happy that people can access it and have it as their own. I’ve always dreamt of my music having a place in others’ lives.

Q: What are some of your influences, either musically or non-musically?
A: Musically I have had a lot of different influences. I was raised on Motown and classic rock, but my music taste is all over the place. Some of my biggest influences include Conor Oberst, Daughter, Regina Spektor, Dry the River, Andy Hull, Bowerbirds, Justin Vernon, Amy Winehouse, Ben Howard, No Doubt, Dear and the Headlights, Hayley Williams, Panic, Tegan and Sara, Carole King, and the list goes on and on. As for non-musically, I’m influenced and inspired by kindness, empathy, pain, passion, movement, color, connection. I’m inspired by loneliness as well as love. My hard-working family as well as the individuals living in their own power and truth (which encourages me to do the same). I’m also heavily inspired by water, nature, plants and animals as well as simple things that help (make) navigating this life a little easier: painting, art in general, touch, laughter, books, learning, helping others, etc. I feel it all trickles into my art, writing and music as well.

Q: What do you enjoy about performing in and around NEPA? Has the music scene here affected your sound?
A: There’s a real sense of community within the NEPA music scene. Everyone is ready to support one another and lift each other up. In the past, I was familiar with the art side, but deep down I wanted to be heavily involved with music. I felt like an outsider until Matt (my guitarist) introduced me to other local musicians that I clicked with. That’s when I really began to feel this may be a place for me. I feel like I have my own style musically, but I was definitely influenced by the amazing drive and natural talent of many local acts.

Q: What do you hope to achieve in 2018 and beyond as a musician?
A: I hope “Until Now” reaches as many people as possible. I hope it resonates with them and, like I said before, can hold a space in their lives. This album has every part of me in it, and I can only hope some success can come from it. I’m really grateful for the positive feedback I’ve received so far, and I am looking forward to playing more live gigs, writing new material and getting back into the studio to create. I’m also looking forward to collaborating with other musicians and getting to know more people in the community.


Cry the Blues

Cry the Blues

By: Clare Collins

Jam out to all the finest blues music the area has to offer at Briggs Farm Blues Festival.
Guests can enjoy the 21st annual music festival at the Nescopeck family farm from Thursday, July 5, to Sunday, July 8.
For four days and three nights, guests can experience first-class blues music from a number of different bands and soloists. Musical performances will be held in the farm’s natural outdoor amphitheater on the rolling hills of the more than 250-year-old farm. Organizers expect to receive over 7,000 guests from all over the world.
The Mighty Susquehannas & Friends, performing the music of Eric Clapton, will be the main event for Thursday night, when campers and multiple-day ticket holders can catch the act on this added extra night of music.
The weekend’s events also feature international, national and regional acts spread across three stages, including Samantha Fish and Vanessa Collier. 

Vanessa Collier

“There are a lot of strong female blues artists this year,” organizer Richard Briggs said. “Samantha Fish is a fantastic guitar player and contemporary blues musician, and Vanessa Collier is a very skilled saxophone player and an impressive, sophisticated vocalist.”
The National Reserve will perform Friday night on the main stage and Saturday night on the back porch stage.
“They have a very soulful, gritty sound to them,” Briggs said.
Sunday’s Gospel Blues show ends the weekend with performances by Mike Farris & the Roseland Rhythm Review and Ed Randazzo & Friends.
“It makes sense to end with gospel with the history of the blues,” Briggs said. “It’s very inspirational to end the weekend that way.”
In addition to the musical festivities, guests can enjoy authentic Mississippi Delta-style barbecue, including slow-smoked pulled pork; Southern fried catfish; jambalaya; fresh-picked, fire-roasted sweet corn; and mac-n-cheese with stewed tomatoes. Campers can enjoy breakfast from Saturday 7 to 11 a.m., and it includes biscuits and gravy, eggs and a choice of ham, bacon or sausage. There also will be lunch on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., which includes a chicken bacon ranch wrap.
“This isn’t your typical festival food,” Briggs said. “We tried to focus on adding Southern-style soul food for guests to enjoy.”
The Briggs family is extremely invested in this year-long project, with all members of the family preparing for the event. The festival has occupied most of the family’s time, with Briggs’ sons and grandsons helping year-round.
“This festival became a big part of our life and legacy,” he said.

If you go
What: Briggs Farm Blues Festival
When: Thursday, July 5, camping gate open 3 to 9 p.m., music 7 to 11 p.m.; Friday, July 6, camping gate open 10 a.m., main gate open at noon, music 2 p.m. to midnight; Saturday, July 7, main gate open at noon, music noon to midnight; Sunday, July 8, music 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., concert/campgrounds close 4 p.m.
Where: 88 Old Berwick Highway, Nescopeck
Tickets: Four-day pass with camping, $130 advance/$140 at gate; four-day general admission, $85 advance/$100 at gate; three-day pass with camping, $105 advance/$115 at gate; three-day general (Thursday to Saturday) $70 advance/$80 at gate; three-day general (Friday to Sunday), $70 advance/$80 at gate; two-day general, $50 advance/$60 at gate; one-day general $30 advance/$35 at gate; Sunday general $25 advance/$30 at gate. Tickets are available at several locations, including Joe Nardone’s Gallery of Sound, Wilkes-Barre and Dickson City; Briggs Farm and Amish Pantry, Nescopeck; A Perfect Blend, Berwick; and Endless Records, Bloomsburg.
Details: Visit briggsfarm.com.

Patriotic party time

Patriotic party time

By Mary Joyce

NEPA marks Independence Day with fireworks, music and more

It’s easy to find patriotic celebrations wherever you plan to celebrate this Fourth of July in Northeast Pennsylvania, from simple fireworks displays to live concerts to full-blown festivals with food and fun.
The most notable change among the area’s traditional bashes is the addition of the Northern Appalachian Wind Symphony to downtown Scranton’s Scrantastic Spectacular in place of Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic.
The Williamsport-based ensemble consists of 45 professional musicians from across the country under the artistic direction of Lance C. Ohnmeiss. The symphony will perform some of John Philip Sousa’s most recognizable marches plus a patriotic selection of classic American songs. Its production will include singers, soloists, flags and a salute to the armed forces.

Friday, June 29
Food, beverages and children’s games will be among the offerings at June Fest, Ritz Tech, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Peckville, where fireworks will start at dusk. The rain date is Sunday, July 1.

Friday, June 30
Enjoy food, games and fireworks during Nanticoke’s fifth annual Big Bang from 4 to 10 p.m. at Greater Nanticoke Area High School football field, 425 Koscuszko St.
Bring along beach chairs or blankets and celebrate the season at Lake Ariel Volunteer Fire Company’s fireworks display at dusk on the shores of Lake Ariel. The rain date is Sunday, July 1.

Monday, July 2
Celebrate the holiday at Central Park, Church Street, Honesdale, at the Wayne County Creative Arts Council Independence Day Celebration. Free live music will begin at 6:30 p.m., and the fireworks display will follow at approximately 8. There will be bounce houses and other activities for children as well as craft and food vendors.
Enjoy patriotic hymns and sing along at the Celebrate America Concert at 7 p.m. in St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church, 35 William St., Pittston. A community choir will perform at the concert, which the Pennsylvania Northeast chapter of the American Guild of Organists will present. Veterans will be recognized during the concert.

Tuesday, July 3
The Scrantastic Spectacular will take place on Lackawanna County Courthouse Square in the heart of downtown Scranton. Plenty of food vendors and other entertainment will open at 4 p.m., and live music from Northern Appalachian Wind Symphony will begin at 7. At dusk, the a fireworks display choreographed to music will kick off.
The Rotary Club of the Abingtons will host its annual fireworks display at Abington Heights Middle School, 1555 Newton Ransom Blvd., Newton Twp. Food and amusement vendors will open their stands at 5 p.m., and the fireworks will begin at dusk. Parking in designated lots will cost $5.
Head to Tunkhannock High School athletic field, 135 Tiger Drive, for Tunhannock Rotary Club’s fireworks display. Gates open at 6 p.m., and band Popstar Drive will play from 7 p.m. until dark. The fireworks display will begin at dusk after the band wraps up.
Finally, Mount Airy Casino Resort, Mount Pocono, will celebrate with a fireworks display at 9:30 p.m. The show is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, July 4
Take the celebration to the streets at the Mountain Top on the Move Parade from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., ending with a ceremony at Wright Twp. Municipal Park, Park Road. Plenty of local organizations will provide refreshments and other displays.
Start your Independence Day morning with a free patriotic concert from the Ringgold Pops at 10:30 a.m. at Nay Aug Park, 500 Arthur Ave., Scranton.
Enjoy a day-long blowout with food vendors, games and rides at the Old-Fashioned Fourth of July from noon to 10 p.m. at Kirby Park, 301 Northampton St., Kingston. A fireworks display will begin at dusk.
Throughout July and August, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders post-game fireworks displays take place at PNC Field, 235 Montage Mountain Road, Moosic. On July 4, the RailRiders will play the Buffalo Bisons at 7:05 p.m., and the fireworks display will begin directly after the game. Tickets range from $10 to $14.
Kalahari Water Park and Resort, 250 Kalahari Blvd., Pocono Manor, will host a special celebration this year, “Dreams: Symphony in the Sky” fireworks display. The display will begin at dusk and can be viewed from the water park. Day passes for admission to the water park cost $109, while passes for after 5 p.m. cost $89.
Over the shores of Lake Wallenpaupack at Wallenpaupack High School, 2552 Route 6, Palmyra Twp., guests can view Lake Wallenpaupack’s fireworks starting at 9:15 p.m. Seating and parking will be available at the high school. Admission is free, and donations will be accepted. The rain date is Thursday, July 5.

Saturday, July 7
Check out the Minisink Lions of North Pocono Fireworks Extravaganza at North Pocono’s football stadium, Route 690, Moscow. Gates open at 6 p.m., and guests can find plenty of food, refreshments and entertainment for all ages. Live music from the Poets will begin at 7 p.m., and the fireworks display will begin at dusk. Admission is free, and donations for the Lions Club will be accepted. The rain date is Sunday, July 8.
Celebrate at Jim Thorpe Memorial Park, 101 E. 10th St., at the Stay at Home Festival & Fireworks from noon to 11 p.m. Enjoy live local bands, face painting, amusement rides and free kids games featuring a pie-eating contest, potato sack race and more.
Take in a fireworks display over the waters of Lake Harmony at the Independence Day Fireworks at Split Rock Resort, 428 Moseywood Road, Lake Harmony. The fireworks will begin at 9 p.m. The rain date is July 8.


Up Close & Personal – Lance Miley

Up Close & Personal – Lance Miley

Music, and particularly rock, has been part of Lance Miley’s life for as long as he can remember. Miley founded and owns Rock School of Music, Clarks Summit, a nonprofit organization designed to offer music to all children. There, he teaches guitar, vocals, keyboard, drums and bass. On Friday, July 13, he and Making Music Matter for Kids will host the free Summit Fest Rock the Block block party on Spring Street in Clarks Summit from 5 to 9 p.m. Miley also is the vocalist for the band Metal Mob and has performed alongside many musicians throughout his life. He grew up in Sussex County, New Jersey, and now lives in Clarks Summit with his partner, Robin. He has three children, Lance, Kelsey and Jacob, and two grandchildren, Silas and Layla.

Meet Lance Miley…

What is Making Music Matter for Kids? 
A nonprofit that supports low-income and disadvantaged youth. It also supports all kids. It’s not just for low-income. The cool thing is it’s the low-income (who) are supporting the kids who have families that can pay for it. We keep our prices low and affordable. The kids that are getting grants don’t need to be ashamed, because they’re supporting music for all kids. We have about eight kids who are getting grants. Right now, we need support. The program started with me moving from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. We opened shop in Lake Wallenpaupack in Greentown at the end of 2010. We had students coming in and working with us, and all of a sudden parents couldn’t afford $20 a week. I didn’t have the heart to say I couldn’t teach them anymore, so I volunteered my time. We started the nonprofit. We had an event at Wally Fest at Lake Wallenpaupack. Our first event was in 2015. We were just beginning to look into becoming a nonprofit. It was 100 percent charity through the community. In 2016, we put in for the 501, and in six months, we received our 503(c)3 application, a couple days before the event.

What got you interested in teaching?
As far as instructing, I realized that there’s a need. As far as teaching goes, I was teaching pretty young. I got serious about it probably 15 years ago. The bottom line is you have to give it away if you want to keep it. It’s always nice when you get a student who progresses, and you get to see them go off to college. There’s a lot of joy in it and passion about it. I just love teaching, and I get more out of it than gigging. That’s really why I teach.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?
My favorite thing is when the kids come back and they’ve done their homework. I get to see it pay off. It’s always 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. I’ve been doing it long enough that I can tell right off the bat if they’ve done their homework. It inspires me to see kids grow. Music is an amazing tool.

When did you realize you wanted to be a teacher as opposed to a performer?
2008 was our first event. After touring for a couple of years, I stepped back and looked at my life and realized I love to perform. Don’t get me wrong, it’s so exciting; on stage I get to be somebody I’m not, I get to show my talents, but I knew back in [the early 2000s] I saw the direction music was going, and I didn’t want to include myself in that.

What is the project you’re working on with Metal Mob?
We’re in the studio. We’re putting together a press kit, and we’re going to be playing A-rooms, national clubs, maybe a couple local things. Metal Mob will be at the event on the 13th working with the kids.

Guitar was the first of many instruments you played. What interested you about it? 
It was Glenn Campbell, and it was the pick. He was singing, and he reached into his pocket and he pulled it out and started doing these riffs up and down the neck that were just magical. For a 3-year-old, I had seen the pick and I needed to have a pick, so asked my dad to get me a pick, and he got me a guitar and a pick. I was correct about the pick. The right hand (if you’re a righty) is what makes the guitar come to life.

What happened after you got your first guitar and pick?
It was my first guitar; I was probably 3 or 4 years old. By second grade, I was playing in the school dances, parties. I took some lessons. I was a young kid doing some stuff, promoting the events, then Boy Scout gigs and into high school.

If there is one thing you could give or teach your students, what would it be?
Give back. Give what I’ve taught and whatever experience I’ve given them to another human being. Give charity. It’s greater than humility and gratitude. There is no humility or gratitude without charity.

What is one thing you’ve had to overcome or learn as a teacher?
Pride. Without a doubt. Every year, I get groups of kids together, and they would work together with me for two or three years and all of a sudden they decide they’re going to do it on their own, and it’s never worked out too well for them. I just remember that it’s not mine, it’s the greater power, the gift comes from above.

What is your favorite thing to teach and why?
Guitar. It’s almost universal. Learning guitar, I’m able to play keyboard, bass. I’m able to play other instruments. The instrument has much of the quality as every other instrument out there, combined. There are so many different ways to play modes and scales. With guitar, you can have three different patterns. Guitar is the greatest tool, but it also enhanced my vocals. It’s given me the opportunity to do vocals.


Olyphant’s Nothing Yet builds on rock background

Olyphant’s Nothing Yet builds on rock background

— By Brigid Lynett

Nothing Yet leaves nothing yet to be desired in Northeast Pennsylvania’s music scene.
Although the band is fairly new, the members — Brandon Rodriguez on lead guitar, Evan Collins on bass, Justin Kucharski on rhythm guitar and backup vocals, Martin Monahan on drums and backup vocals and Nicolo Manzo on lead vocals — created the band’s concept years ago during middle school.
Nothing Yet began playing strictly modern rock but has evolved to classic rock songs and even some pop music. Despite the formidable struggle that comes from juggling band members’ schedules, Nothing Yet continues to change, grow and thrive. The Midvalley-based band recently went On the Record to discuss its sound, struggles and goals.

Q: How did Nothing Yet get its start?
Monahan: The idea of the band started in 2011 when we wanted to play a middle-school talent show, and our current lineup started playing together in 2013.

Q: Tell us about the first time you performed.
Manzo: We were excited and kind of nervous, but the crowd was energized by hearing a full band. It was a surreal experience.

Q: Do you write your own songs? What is your creative process like?
Rodriguez: We’re in the early stages of writing our first song. It’s a collaborative effort. Anyone who has an idea is encouraged to bring it forward, and we work from there.

Q: How has NEPA affected your music?
Kucharski: The area has a vibrant music scene, and we’ve been given many opportunities. Each gig teaches us what music people enjoy and want to hear. As we got older, we learned that every opportunity is something to take seriously, as a way to prove ourselves. We were growing up as the music scene changed in NEPA, and we’re relatively new to the scene but have found it to be very exciting.

Q: How did you each get involved in music?
Manzo: My family is bonded together by music. Going back to my dad’s father, he was a singer, and everyone in my house is a singer or plays some instruments. It keeps us together, and we all share the love for it.
Collins: I was surrounded by friends who played music and was just looking for another thing to challenge myself with, which led to playing the bass.
Kucharski: My grandfather and my father played in a band, and I felt inspired and wanted to play the guitar. I started in 2010 and haven’t stopped since.
Monahan: I joined concert band and chorus in elementary school and, in middle school, I was encouraged to play the drums in school jazz band. Soon after that, I felt inspired to start the band with Justin and Nicolo.
Rodriguez: I got into music by accident. My cousin was telling me how much fun it was to play in a band. I picked up saxophone, and after a couple years, I tried guitar to play the music I liked, and it stemmed from there.

Q: Who has been your biggest influence?
Collins: Our families have been our biggest supporters throughout the years, and we wouldn’t be where we are without them.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a band?
Monahan: Our ages slowed our growth early as a band. We tried to play everywhere we could, but only certain places accepted us because we were too young. Presently, we’re all working or in college, so it’s tough to make schedules line up to practice and write.

Q: Has your sound changed over the years?
Collins: Our sound has definitely expanded over the years. We’ve moved from strictly modern rock to both classic rock and some pop. We’ve learned from the many different types of crowds we’ve had and what they want to hear. Our taste in music has also evolved, and we’ve learned to play with more maturity and to be better as a group.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish this year?
Monahan: Our goal this year is to play more regularly and to write some original songs. These goals contribute to our major mission — to not let the rock die out.


Set the stage Scranton Shakespeare Festival ready for diverse season

Set the stage Scranton Shakespeare Festival ready for diverse season

Youth across the country have found their voices and undertaken challenges of late in the wake of violence and negativity.
In its seventh year, the Scranton Shakespeare Festival has chosen pieces that reflect that.
“It was supposed to be all about a new generation and a bit of a coming-of-age season, and it’s only become more relevant with the … Parkland activities in Florida,” said Michael Bradshaw Flynn, the festival’s founder and artistic director. “All of the plays we have this summer have some sort of element of young people finding their voices or making their way to some sort of top.”
The festival opens Thursday, June 28, with the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” which it will present downtown in center court of the Marketplace at Steamtown. The story follows an ambitious young man who rises quickly through a company’s ranks. 

“This part show is about … the chaos that happens at one of these big New York businesses, and I thought it would be really cool to be in an actual business,” said Flynn, who will play lead J. Pierrepont Finch. “And it has a great space.”
“How to Succeed” opened on Broadway in 1961 and starred “Mad Men” actor Robert Morse. Flynn worked with Morse on Broadway and nabbed him to provide recorded narration for Scranton’s “How to Succeed.” Morse donated his services, Flynn said.
“It’s pretty fantastic,” he added. “We are a younger company in that we don’t have a lot of more mature actors, so it’s really sort of nice to hear this old-fashioned character, this mature voice doing these iconic lines. It was really exciting.”
The festival’s remaining shows move to Scranton Preparatory School’s St. Robert Bellarmine Theatre. Opening Friday, July 6, the festival offers its first Shakespearean work of the season, “The Tempest,” which focuses on a father and daughter, Prospero and Miranda, who live on an island where a shipwreck occurs.
“It’s really about Miranda finding her voice and changing her father’s opinions, so there’s sort of that slip in power from the daughter… now being the person who’s basically changing his policy and really spurring him for forgiveness,” Flynn said.
While “The Tempest” usually features about 18 actors, the festival will present it with just three plus a featured singer, a group that includes Scranton native and Actors’ Equity Association member Maura Malloy.
“We’re going to work in on a table basically, so there are different objects to play with, to use as characters, to use as different aspects of a personality,” said Malloy, who lives in New York City and directed for the festival during its last two seasons. “It’s experimental in a way at this point in the rehearsal process. … (The director is) letting the three of us discover it as we go, so it’s kind of a fascinating rehearsal process in a way.”
“The Tempest” is double-billed with a newer prequel, “Sycorax,” which focuses on a witch only mentioned in Shakespeare’s original, Flynn said.

“It’s going to be a really cool piece that’s going to complement that evening,” he added.
A family-friendly staging of “Hansel & Gretel” from the festival’s Youth Theatre Lab follows at Scranton Prep on two Saturdays, July 7 and 14, before the festival presents Shakespeare’s comedic “As You Like It” starting Friday, July 13. The festival then shifts back to musical theater with a production of “Footloose,” whose original Broadway version was adapted for the stage and directed by Scranton native Walter Bobbie. That opens Thursday, July 19.
As in past years, the festival will stage each work once more in its final weekend, wrapping up Sunday, July 29. It stars a great group of giving people who have energy and talent, Malloy said, and “I don’t think there’s going to be two shows that are all similar.”
“I don’t know what it’s becoming exactly, but I know it’s growing, which is pretty exciting in that more and more people in the community are getting on the train, which is pretty cool,” Flynn said of the festival. “And I think it’s becoming more inclusive, and I think there are people who keep coming back to us who might never have cared about Shakespeare.”

Scranton Shakespeare Festival schedule

“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”
When: Thursday, June 28, through Saturday, June 30, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, July 1, 5 p.m.; and Friday, July 27, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Center court, the Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave., Scranton

“The Tempest” and “Sycorax”
When: Friday, July 6, and Saturday, July 7, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, July 8, 3 p.m.; and Saturday, July 28, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Scranton Preparatory School, 1000 Wyoming Ave.

“Hansel & Gretel”
When: Saturdays, July 7 and 14, noon
Where: Scranton Preparatory School, 1000 Wyoming Ave.

“As You Like It”
When: Friday, July 13, and Saturday, July 14, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, July 15 and 29, 3 p.m.
Where: Scranton Preparatory School, 1000 Wyoming Ave.

When: Thursday, July 19, through Saturday, July 21, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, July 22, 3 p.m.; and Sunday, July 29, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Scranton Preparatory School, 1000 Wyoming Ave.

Quartet at home playing NEPA for two decades

Quartet at home playing NEPA for two decades

A 40-pound head might sound strange to some, but for the past 22 years, it has been the namesake of a Luzerne County band.
The four-piece group, which describes its genre as “the other music,” came together in 1996 first as a cover band and then moved into writing its own music. Although sometimes the group performs as a two-piece unit known as 20lb Head or as a trio dubbed 30lb Head, it primarily plays as a quartet under its main moniker, performing both covers and original music.
The quartet is comprised of Jason Egenski on vocals, Steven Egenski on guitars and vocals, Gary Mikulski or bass and vocals and Mike Zubritski on percussion. Jason Egenski recently went On the Record to discuss the band’s past, present and future as a staple in Northeast Pennsylvania.

Q: Where did the name 40lb Head come from? How did the band form?
A: The long but abridged story behind the name is best laid out this way: One head equals eight pounds; five heads (yes, five) equals 40 pounds. Five heads together equals one big “40lb Head.” We never ended up with that fifth member, so we just upped the weight of one head to 10 pounds since 32lb Head doesn’t roll off your tongue quite as nice. Makes sense, right?

Q: What is a 40lb Head live show like? How would you describe the experience from the stage and for the fans?
A: Well, the best way to enjoy us is to grab a beer and watch a couple of your friends get together and have some fun. It’s like playing frisbee or corn hole with friends. Sometimes the bag is falling in the hole every other toss. Sometimes you miss a catch or the frisbee curves because you held onto it too long. Sometimes it’s the wind. Mostly winning though but never taking score.

Q: What are some of the biggest influences (musical or non-musical) to your sound?
A: We all have similar tastes in music. But when you start “taking exits off the highway and a couple turns and end up on a dirt road, the rabbit holes get deep.” Ya know what I mean?

Q: Do you perform covers or write original songs?
A: We started in 1996 as a cover band. It was tricky picking songs everyone enjoyed, but we broke out the abacus and found our lowest common denominator. In just a couple years, we were diving into writing original music. We put three albums out years ago — “Savior Self” in 1998, “Hills and Valleys” in 2000 and “Third Shift” in 2002. We were young then, and full of piss and vinegar. No careers yet, no families — plenty of extra time. Those were the days. Now, some 20 years later, we’re still having a blast throwing an original in there now and again along with “playing frisbee” with our cover songs.

Q: What do you enjoy about performing in and around NEPA? Has the music scene here affected the band’s sound?
A: There’s no place like home. I see a lot of complaining going on on Facebook about this area, but I love Northeastern Pennsylvania. Our roots are deep here. As far as I see it, our canoe is perfectly positioned in the river to “go with the flow” so to speak. It has been a relatively smooth sailing and enjoyable operation, and we are all very fortunate and grateful for that.

Up Close & Personal – Eleanor Gwyn-Jones

Up Close & Personal – Eleanor Gwyn-Jones

Eleanor Gwyn-Jones is an independent Mary Kay director, author and the proprietor of the Lion’s Den, Clarks Summit. Having grown up in London, she says her British accent may fool some people, but she considers Northeast Pennsylvania to be home. She has published two novels, “Theatricks” and “Jazz Hands,” and has two additional novels that will be published soon. While she has worked her way through the ranks of Mary Kay, there is more to her story than “lotion and lipstick.” She attended secondary school at Parsons Mead and earned a degree in biology from University of Southampton, both in England. She lives in Scranton’s Green Ridge section with her partner, Matt Mang, and their rescue dog, Beanie.

Meet Eleanor Gwyn-Jones…

Tell me a little about yourself. 
I came 14 years ago on a fiance visa. I met this handsome, dashing American hunk. The visa process is so complicated. I was surprised it would be so difficult for me to get a visa. We really had to go through flaming hoops. I lived in West Pittston for a wee while. It was sort of the beginning and the breaking of the fairy tale. I had the opportunity to go back to England when that relationship ended. I had just started my business here, and I had just gotten an agent for my first novel. It seemed foolhardy to go back home with a tail between my legs, so I started a new chapter. I moved to Clarks Summit, and I really went gung-ho with my Mary Kay business and really dived deep into writing.

Of the cities you’ve lived in, what sticks out most about NEPA?
I have made such wonderful friendships here. Ride-or-die kind of relationships with girlfriends who I know would champion me to the end of the earth, and I them. I feel very fortunate at finding them. When you vibrate at a certain energy level, you find these fabulous people who similarly want to change the world and want to make an impact. People who are joyful and who are passionate and love what they do, and are on a mission, and that’s what I love and was able to find here.

What was your pre-U.S. life like?
I always wanted to be an actress. When I was 17, I got selected for the National Youth Theater. This was a summer camp in London. It was this glorious summer. All the school counselors said “acting is very well and good, but you really need to get an education, because 99 percent of actresses are out of work.” I got myself a BSc honors degree in biology. It wasn’t easy, because when you don’t love a subject, it’s all work. After three years, I got through it, and I was ready to pursue my passion to be an actress. I started to audition for drama schools, but I had no idea how expensive it would be to go to drama school. I got through a couple rounds of auditions, and I went to this weekend workshop, and it was just a nightmare. I really disliked the whole experience. Then I auditioned for a children’s company. They needed someone who was going to be an actress and could do some administration things. They selected me. I started promoting the shows and worked as an agent for the company. I took the company from being a few shows here and there to three or four shows a week.

Can you talk about your novels? 
The first two focus on Enna and her journey. She’s the original Brit out of water. She’s a director and in “Theatricks”; she goes through the visa process. … I took nuggets of things I knew, so she meets an American, she’s trying to fight for her theater, which is being threatened to be overtaken by the property developers, but she’s failing. I really dearly wanted to write about the visa process because it was quite hysterical (for me). … It’s finding where home is, finding what’s important to you, what women prioritize and value, and sometimes what we need is not actually what we want, or what we want, it’s not what we need. So in the second book, she leaves the theater and she actually becomes very involved in yoga, which is something that is important to me. I want my characters to feel, and I want my readers to feel. I try to use a lot of symbolism and imagery.

Does your acting background influence you as a writer?
All of my novels thus far are written in first person. We really see in the first two Enna’s perspective, and in the third, Evie’s, and I put myself in that position. I’ll often be writing and tears will be pouring down my face because I’m feeling it. I often find that times in my life when I’ve been dreadfully unhappy, I’ve been super creative. I guess that means you get to live your life vicariously through all these different versions of you.

Do you have a favorite topic to write about?
Obviously my background is in theater, so there’s something very lovely about writing scenes that are set in a theater, because that feels like home to me. I guess I like to create it artificially. Although I do feel at home in this area, I feel sad that there’s not a big theater.

Has your perspective of the U.S. changed since arriving and living here?
I have come to notice that in Northeast PA there is that community that is welcoming. As a small business owner, the support that I have had has been, both for the writing and having my Mary Kay business, has been really heart warming. It’s that relationship-building, and people have time for you here, whereas I believe when I was in New York, and not to speak badly about New York, people didn’t have time to talk to you or find out about you. Whether you’re writing stories and you’re learning about people or whether you’re trying to help you or your small business thrive, it’s all about the people you meet along the way and how you can help them. I think we’re better together. When we support each other, if my customer base hears about your business, then you might have more potential customers than if you tell your customers about me.

You own the Lion’s Den in Clarks Summit. What is the concept behind it? 
When I became a Mary Kay director, you have what’s called your unit, but your unit and a number after it sounds very utilitarian. Most Mary Kay directors give their unit a unit name, and I wanted something that symbolized more. I was named after Eleanor of Aquitaine, and she was the mother of Richard the Lionheart, and Richard the Lionheart fought in the crusades. It just fit, so my units are called the Lionhearts. So I was looking for a space that was local and that I could invite my girls, that I could praise them to success and I could teach them and I could meet my own customers and have great interactions with them and really have a base. … This isn’t a shop. I don’t sell products from shelves. What it is is it’s an experience, and it’s a training center, it’s a success center, it’s where, whether you’ve had a good day, you bring your energy to the table, you lift people up, and if you’ve had a rubbish day, we build you up. It’s really so much more than just lotion and lipstick.

Historic Route 66 focus of new exhibit at Misericordia  University

Historic Route 66 focus of new exhibit at Misericordia University

Take a ride down historic Route 66 this summer without leaving Northeast Pennsylvania.
Pauly Friedman Art Gallery at Misericordia University, Dallas, presents the exhibit, “America’s Road: The Journey of Route 66,” from Saturday, June 16, through Sunday, Aug. 12. An opening reception kicks off Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m. and will feature live music and light refreshments.
Curated by NRG! Exhibits, the show shares the history and fascination with the nearly 3,000-mile road that cuts through eight states. It features photographs, narrative, music and objects from the route often referred to as the “Main Street of America.” 
“We want to reach a family audience this summer now that the students are gone for vacation,” gallery director Lalaine Little said. “We wanted something that was highly interactive and emphasized a travel theme.”
Interactive segments of the exhibit include a drive-in theater experience, a “Guess the Artist” radio show and a “Populations Change Over Time” map.
The main draw of the exhibit is a photo essay by photographer and author Russell Olsen, who researched and photographed 75 classic Route 66 service stations, motor courts and cafes. The sites are juxtaposed on display with images from the mid-20th century and today.
“The nostalgia really hits for me; I’ve only been in the area since 2005, but as I drive up and down our own thoroughfare, we see signs of businesses, big spots and landmarks,” Little said. “Route 66 is the same experience, from road trips with the family, the familiar places you stop, the same games you play in the car, the songs you sing. It’s very much centered around family togetherness and sharing experiences.”
Route 66 opened on Nov. 11, 1926, as one of the original highways in the country, running from Chicago through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona before ending in Santa Monica, Calif. Although the road is no longer a part of the U.S. Highway System, several states adopted sections of the road and created the state road network known as State Route 66, with parts of the historic route designated as a National Scenic Byway.
To further interest in the exhibit, the gallery partnered with the Northeast Pennsylvania Region Antique Automobile Club of America to host a Car Cruise on campus Saturday, July 7, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a rain date of Sunday, July 8. The event is free to spectators and exhibitors, but any donations made will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
A special event for children is scheduled for Wednesday, July 18, from 5 to 8 p.m., featuring a showing of the Disney-Pixar film “Cars III.” Families are invited to visit the exhibit, where children will receive an art car kit and goody bag. They can buy dinner at Misericordia’s Chick-fil-A Express and go to the dining hall to work on their cars and watch the film. Prizes will be awarded at the end of the night.
“We want folks to get a sense of the range of artifacts that are available. We want people to get the sense of being able to have a stay-cation or appreciate attractions around here at home,” Little said. “We have both a thriving arts community of people who participate and community of people who like to look at and interact with art. We want to be able to serve those folks who can’t necessarily get out to New York or Philadelphia or other collections. We want to bring as much of that here as possible.”

Sights and sounds of summer

Sights and sounds of summer

Season filled with activities of all kinds

When the weather heats up in Northeast Pennsylvania, events stay cool. Weekend Times gathered all the fun around the region this summer, from theater to festivals to family-friendly events.

All the region’s a stage this summer with performances of musicals, plays and revues. Head to the Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre, 537 N. Main St., to see “Harvey,” from Friday, June 15, through Sunday, June 17; “Seussical the Musical Jr.,” from Friday, July 27, through Sunday, July 29; and “Seussical the Musical,” from Friday, Sept. 7, through Sunday, Sept. 16.
Clocktower Theater Co. presents “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” featuring West Scranton native Jessica Cadden Osborne on Saturday, June 16, at the Theater at North, 1539 N. Main Ave., Scranton, while Gaslight Theatre Company presents “The Taming of the Shrew” from Friday, June 22, through Saturday, June 30, at 200 East End Centre, Wilkes-Barre Twp.
“Showstoppers Cabaret” takes the stage Friday, June 22, through Sunday, June 24, at Diva Theater at Olde Brick Theatre, 126 W. Market St., Scranton, and Gamut Theatre presents its Shakespeare in the Park edition of “Macbeth” on Saturday, June 23, at Tunkhannock Riverside Park, Route 29. Scranton Shakespeare Festival takes over the city with “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” from Thursday, June 28, through Sunday, July 1, and Friday, July 27, at the Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave., Scranton; “The Tempest & Sycorax,” Friday, July 6, through Sunday, July 8, and Saturday, July 28; “Hansel & Gretel,” on Saturdays, July 7 and 14; “As You Like It,” from Friday, July 13, through Sunday, July 15, and Sunday, July 29; and “Footloose,” from Thursday, July 19, through Sunday, July 22, and Sunday, July 29, all at Scranton Preparatory School, 1000 Wyoming Ave.

There are plenty of places to have fun throughout the region once the sun goes down. Have a laugh this summer at “Summer Yuk Yuks: A Night of Comedy” on Saturday, June 16, at Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave. Check out comedy shows Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at Wise Crackers Comedy Club inside Seasons Ballroom at Mohegan Sun Pocono, 1280 Route 315, Plains Twp., and at Comedy open mic night Tuesdays at Hammerjax Bar & Grill, 350 Phillips Road, Clifton Twp. For fun, just add water at Adult Swim Night on Wednesdays, June 20 and July 18, at Montage Mountain Resorts, 1000 Montage Mountain Road, Scranton. Also, sneak a peek at the legendary male revue, “Chippendales: About Last Night,” when it storms Keystone Grand Ballroom at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Friday, July 27.

Family fun is everywhere this summer. Artists of all ages and abilities can express themselves during Art in the Park events Tuesday, July 10, at Merli-Sarnoski Park, Greenfield Twp.; Tuesday, July 17, at Covington Park, Covington Twp.; and Tuesday, July 24, at Aylesworth Park, Jermyn. Head inside for an immersive art experience, Arts Engage, on Tuesday, July 31, at Electric City Trolley Museum, 300 Cliff St., Scranton.
Get ready to rumble at WWE “SmackDown Live!” on Tuesday, July 17, at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp., and let your imagination run wild during the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders’ Princess & Pirate Night on Friday, July 27; “The Sandlot” Night on Saturday, July 28; and Superhero Night on Friday, Aug. 17, all at PNC Field, 235 Montage Mountain Road, Moosic.
Catch a family-friendly movie outside during Scranton Tomorrow’s Drive-In Downtown on Lackawanna County Courthouse Square during July and August, and charge full steam ahead into Steamtown National Historic Site, Lackawanna Avenue at Cliff Street, Scranton for its annual Railfest on Saturday, Sept. 1, and Sunday, Sept. 2.


Nothing says Northeast Pennsylvania like a summer festival. Some already began, but you can head to St. John the Evangelist Parish Flea Market at St. Mary Magdalene Church Basement, 416 Church St., Honesdale, from Thursday, June 14, through Saturday, June 16. Next up is the Mary, Mother of God Parish at Holy Rosary Church Block Party, West Market Street and Wayne Avenue, Scranton, from Thursday, June 21, through Saturday, June 23; Tunkhannock Founders Day, Tioga Street, on Saturday, June 23; Elmhurst/Roaring Brook Volunteer Fire Company annual Picnic, 245 Blue Shutters Road, Elmhurst Twp., from Wednesday, June 27, through Saturday, June 30; St. Patrick’s Parish Summer Festival, 1403 Jackson St., Scranton, on Friday, July 13, and Saturday, July 14; Christ the King Parish Picnic, Betty and Main streets, Eynon, from Friday, July 27, through Sunday, July 29; St. Joseph’s Summer Festival, Friday, July 27, through Sunday, July 29, at Marywood University, 2300 Adams Ave., Scranton; Lackawanna Arts Weekend, which combines the First Friday Art Walk, Scranton Jazz Festival and Lackawanna Arts Festival at various venues in downtown Scranton from Friday, Aug. 3, through Sunday, Aug. 5; SS. Anthony and Rocco Italian Festival at St. Rocco’s Church, 122 Kurtz St., Dunmore, from Friday, Aug. 10, through Sunday, Aug. 12; St. John Vianney Barbecue at St. Pius X Church, 3615 Route 106, Clifford Twp., on Saturday, Aug. 11; Rock Lake Picnic at St. Katharine Drexel Parish, 2048 Creamton Drive, Pleasant Mount, on Saturday, Aug. 18; and La Festa Italiana on Courthouse Square, Scranton, from Friday, Aug. 31 through Monday, Sept. 3.

To beat the heat, head inside a cool, dark movie theater such as Dietrich Theater, 60 E. Tioga St., Tunkhannock, which will host its Summer Film Festival from Friday, July 13, through Thursday, Aug. 2 (a preview day takes place Thursday, June 28). Take a trip down memory lane with the “Before the Kirby Was the Kirby” monthly Friday film series at F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre.

Old-time influences haunt American Buffalo Ghost’s sound

Old-time influences haunt American Buffalo Ghost’s sound

Sean Flynn found inspiration for his solo act in a bottle of whiskey. The 30-year-old musician decided that
while creating his folk project—American Buffalo Ghost—he wanted to use the idea of the buffalo
“out on the plains of the West.” “I guess I have this love of the idea or the dream of what that kind of America was, and I think the image of the buffalo is channeled into that,” Flynn said. “One day when I was writing some songs, I was having a glass of Buffalo Trace Whiskey and saw the bottle, and (the name) just kind of clicked. The whiskey convinced me that it was a good idea.” Flynn took some time to go On the Record to discuss the project, his new album and what it is like for him to work solo after being in a band for many years.

Q:Tell me about this new project, American Buffalo Ghost.What’s the sound like, and how does it differ from what you’ve done before?
A:The sound of American Buffalo Ghost is rooted in American folk and Americana music. It can go from a wide range of sounds, some of it bluegrass, old-time jazz, country, folk and blues. It’s just rooted in the very fabric of old-time American music and acoustic music. I think I essentially wanted to take the whole idea of “The Anthology of American Folk Music” and condense it down to one guitar and voice. I think that sound has always slipped into any kind of music I have ever played. It just happened. All the other music projects I have been involved with, I always winked at that sound, but with American Buffalo Ghost, it IS the sound.

Q: What made you decide to go solo?
A: I really think it stemmed from the fact that I was seeing a bunch of my friends in the local music scene go off and chase their passion projects, and they all turned out to be amazing. I just kind of felt it was the right time to do something like that. I have been part of the alt/punk scene for so long now, and I just wanted to spread my musical wings. I know this music, I love this music, and I should be able to play this
kind of music.

Q: What can you tell me about your album, “Songs of the Great Remember?”
A: People might find this odd or funny, but it really came about from a Steve Martin album. He has a bluegrass band, and one of his songs is called “The Great Remember for Nancy.” I would listen to that tune and just got lost in a world. I would create a whole little scene in my head, and it was so striking that I knew I wanted to capture that feeling. There is a song on (my) album called “September,” and the lyrics are basically just what I would see in my mind when I listen to that song. That song originally set the tone for the whole album, and it was going to be all kind of like that. As I worked on the album more, the songs started to change as they always do, but I made sure that that song stayed the same. The record is really wild in spots. There is some country honky-tonk stuff that sounds like a wild Saturday night, there are country ballad-type songs, there is a song that is straight up French Quarter in New Orleans and has horns and a ’20s sound, and there are songs on there that are just me finger picking alone.

Q: What is it like performing as a solo artist versus with a band?
A: I love it. I have no set lists when I play solo. I go off the room completely, and that dictates what I play. When I’m playing some bar shows, I’ll keep it up-tempo and play English drinking songs or old jazz songs that were made to be played in that type of place.When I’m playing a coffee house or an intimate place, I can break out the finger-picking songs and different types of covers. I was lucky enough to get some great
musicians to play with me, and we are starting to play shows here and there as a full American Buffalo
Ghost band.

Q: What do you hope to achieve this year?
A: My goal is to get the album out to as many people as possible and get on the road more. I already am starting to get shows out of the NEPA area, so that is the start. I just want to keep getting better at my instrument and getting better as a songwriter. It doesn’t matter who you play to or where if the songs and performance aren’t genuine and solidified. That’s a goal I could spend my whole life chasing, and that’s what makes this so fun.

Bursting with Pride #queerNEPA events planned for throughout June

Bursting with Pride #queerNEPA events planned for throughout June

The LGBTQ+ community — and its allies — celebrates Pride Month during June, and dedicated locals are making sure Scranton does its part.
Tim Maloney, a 25-year-old Keystone College graduate and Scranton area resident, has organized a series of events throughout the city in June under the hashtag #queerNEPA. A web designer and community organizer, Maloney identifies as demisexual, meaning his way of developing attraction doesn’t fit within relative norms and he finds other means of enjoying companionship, he said.
His goals for pulling together a variety of events for Pride Month are myriad, Maloney added, with some events intended to function as fundraisers for at-risk youth and people of color, and others meant to encourage visibility and unite members of the community in greater understanding.
“I felt it would be a good time to unite allies and queer folk to have fun and spend time together,” Maloney said. “In bigger cities like New York and Philly, they have displays 365 (days a year). I really felt there was something lacking in the area in terms of pride.” 
The month kicks off with “Queer & Counting: An LGBTQ Art Show,” co-hosted by Jess Meoni at the Leonard Theater, 335 Adams Ave., on Friday, June 1, at 6 p.m. and Saturday, June 2, at noon. Donations will be collected during the exhibit to benefit queer and transgender people of color.
Mid-month, an LGBT+ Pride Rally and Vigil will be held at POSH at the Scranton Club on Tuesday, June 12, starting at 6 p.m. The event also coincides with Pulse Remembrance Day, which marks the anniversary of when 49 people were killed at an Orlando nightclub.
Whiskey Dick’s, 308 N. Washington Ave., will host Queer Night Out on Friday, June 22, at 7 p.m., featuring music by local musician Lily Maopolski. Donations from the evening will go to Cookie’s Joint, a New York community crisis shelter that serves people of color from within the community.
On Monday, June 25, at 6 p.m., readers can gather for A Fabulous Little Book Club on “Let’s Talk About Love” by Claire Kann at Temple Hesed, 1 Knox Road. The author has supported the event and featured it on her social media, Maloney noted.
The #queerNEPA series wraps up on Saturday, June 30, on Lackawanna County Courthouse Square with Hug Fest with the Hugging Army, starting at 4 p.m.
“I wanted to have a combination of events for more extroverted people and also those more introverted,” Maloney said. “I think events like Hug Fest expanded it to be more family-friendly and include folks of all ages.”
One of the guest speakers Maloney coordinated with to share a message of hope during Pride Month is Minister Sharvon “Be” Copeland, the founder and leader of NEPA-based ministry Free To Be Me, who also works as a resource parent for Luzerne County Children & Youth and founded, owns and operates NorthEnd Youth Academy in Wilkes-Barre.
Copeland, who lives in Wilkes-Barre with her wife, evangelist Nicci Copeland, aims to inspire gay and lesbian teens or same-sex parents who are struggling.
“My plan for June is to reach the hearts and souls of the shunned community — queer NEPA — to speak to them and bring awareness of spirituality and having a one-on-one relationship with God,” Copeland said. “It is very important to celebrate and come together with all allies, because too many people are dying from suicide and hate crimes from the misunderstandings of love, and the control that society and religion has set upon their people.
“It is time for a change,” she insisted.
Maloney encourages local businesses and venues to display pride flags in solidarity of the observance of Pride Month, and said visibility is crucial to the cause.
“It’s a good time to celebrate queer folks’ existence, and remember the history, and recognize progress to move forward,” he said.

Cheers to 125 years Swingin’ on vine fundraiser to celebrate library’s milestone anniversary

Cheers to 125 years Swingin’ on vine fundraiser to celebrate library’s milestone anniversary

Swing by the 500 block of Vine Street this weekend to celebrate Scranton Public Library’s 125th anniversary and help it prepare for the future.
The ninth annual Swingin’ on Vine fundraiser takes over the street outside Albright Memorial and Lackawanna County Children’s libraries on Friday, May 25, from 5 to 8 p.m. Admission to the 21-and-older event costs $20 in advance and $25 at the door, and benefits programs and operating costs at the city libraries, which include the Nancy Kay Holmes branch in Green Ridge at Library Express in the Marketplace at Steamtown.
“It’s community members serving other community members, and you just can’t go wrong there,” Albright spokeswoman Jessica Serrenti said. “I think we heave wonderful support for the library in our community — Scranton and Dunmore and Dickson City and beyond.”
As guests check out the numerous raffle baskets filled with prizes donated from local businesses, they can listen to the music of Picture Perfect, which takes over from longtime performer Paul LaBelle and the Exact Change Band as the entertainment for the night.
“They have a great mix of everything — your Top 40 pop tunes, everything from Bruno Mars, and then they’ve got some Latin, a little bit of country, some rock in there,” Serrenti said. “I have to say, their song list is just never-ending. They’ll definitely be doing more current tunes … but for our older audience, they have those classic tunes as well.”
Subway, Domino’s and Cooper’s Seafood House will provide much of the food, but guests also can munch on items from numerous other local restaurants. Serrenti said they should expect to find lots of pizza, wings, hoagies and such “traditional kinds of picnic foods.”
For dessert, partygoers can grab a slice of cake featuring the library’s 125th anniversary logo on it, courtesy of Minooka Pastry Shop.
Library director Jack Finnerty believes reaching that milestone makes the library one of the city’s “senior institutions.” He wonders “how many tens of thousands of students” learned research methods and worked on term papers within the Albright’s walls through the years, and where their lives took them from there.
“Everybody who’s been a resident of this city, I think, over those 125 years has, at one time or another, found their way through the doors and benefitted from the visit,” Finnerty said.
Library founder John J. Albright built his namesake library on his family’s former homestead as a gift to Scranton residents. The building opened in June 1893 and recently closed for a few months as it underwent a significant restoration.
“When we reopened back in March, it was wonderful to see everyone come back, and they were very appreciative of the changes that we did make,” Serrenti said.
Reaching 125 years shows that the library is “still here for a reason,” she said.
“We are here serving our community’s needs as far as their informational needs, educational needs and even recreational,” she said. “There’s this idea that with everything going digital … that libraries are not needed. And while Google has given more access to information for everyone, it can still be daunting to find out what information is correct (or) how do (you) even start to use Google, and that’s where libraries come in. We can take that daunting task of ‘How do I find information?’ and say, ‘This is how you start.’”


If you go
What: Ninth annual Swingin’ on Vine fundraiser
When: Friday, May 25, 5 to 8 p.m.
Where: 500 block of Vine Street, Scranton
Details: Guests must be 21 or older. Tickets cost $20 in advance and $25 at the door and are available at Albright Memorial Library, 500 Vine St.; Nancy Kay Holmes Branch Library, Green Ridge Street and Wyoming Avenue; and Library Express, the Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave. Proceeds benefit Scranton Public Library.