The first Downtown Billtown Music Festival, showcasing a variety of local musicians covering different musical genres, will be held from 4 to 10:30 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St.
The Williamsport area is bursting with musical talent and the festival aspires to be just one more welcome addition to showcasing that talent to the community.
Hosted by the Billtown Blues Association and Community Arts Center, the event will be held in conjunction with Daniel Pearl World Music Day, according to a previous report by the Sun-Gazette.
Mal Scoppa and the Tall Tales will perform at the Downtown Billtown Music Festival.
Those scheduled to perform at the festival include blues artist Doug McMinn, who will be accompanied by other area musicians; the newly formed Williamsport City Jazz Orchestra, which will feature a sextet of musicians; Alison and Richard Rupert and Joseph Paul Hauserman of Alison Wonderband fame, who will cover a variety of musical genres; gospel and soul from Kimberly Adair and Soulful; metal band 44MAG; American roots music by blue grass band, Stained Grass Window; Indie folk singer, guitarist and lyricist Mal Scoppa with her band, the Tall Tales; and Clyde Frog, featuring originals and classic rock covers.
The festival idea had been a topic for discussion with the Blues Association for about three years, according to Bonnie Tallman, blues association secretary.
"(We wanted) to produce a multi-genre musical event to celebrate the local abundance of talented local musicians," Tallman said. "When the idea and concept was roughed out and approved by our board, we immediately started fine-tuning our plan."
Tallman said the association festival committee, along with Rob Steele, CAC?executive director, made a list of local musicians who they wanted to see play in the festival.
From that list, they narrowed it down to acts they believed would bring a musically diverse sound to the stage and generate a fun and interesting experience for the audience, Tallman said.
"We wanted to present a broad range of musical styles," she said. "covering a lot of musical diversity, which we consider to be a Williamsport treasure."
Alison Rupert, along with her husband Richard and friend Joseph Paul Hauserman, will perform during the festival. Originally formed in 1974, Alison and Richard put together a country-rock band, later becoming The Alison Wonderband. Hauserman joined on as drummer in 1990, Alison Rupert said.
"We three Wonderband alums occasionally reunite 'unplugged' for very special events like this one," Rupert said. "We've always loved playing the Community Arts Center, and we're honored that Bonnie Tallman invited us to be part of the Downtown Billtown Music Festival. It's fantastic that our Williamsport area is so full of musical talent and takes pride in showcasing it."
The Wonderband toured the East Coast, opened for acts such as Ernest Tubb, Pam Tillis and Richard Marx and recorded five albums of original music in a variety of genres, including pop, rock and country, according to Rupert.
It was 2001 when the Wonderband was placed on hiatus after life on the road took its toll, and they turned to individual creative projects, Rupert said.
The Williamsport City Jazz Orchestra also is on the bill. Six musicians of the complete 17-member orchestra will perform together at the festival. Those members include Dick Adams, Steve Adams, Tim Breon, Bobby Leidhecker, Mark Lusk and Eddie Severn.
A native of Oxford, England, and Williamsport resident since 2008, Williamsport City Jazz Orchestra trumpet player and founding member, Eddie Severn, is looking forward to the festival performance.
"I like the challenge of bringing in musicians from the local area together," Severn said. "Perhaps this is something different than what the city has seen before."
Severn is impressed with the amount of musical talent in the community, including the abundance of musical youth. He believes that the local school districts are providing exceptional music education to their students and the jazz orchestra can give younger musicians something to aspire to.
Severn said he is pleased to have the chance to be a part of the festival and hopes to see it continue and expand in years to come.
"We know we will have a world class production," Tallman said. "We just need the people to come out and support the music and the event. We hope the people will come with the mindset to support who they know and expose their ears to something new. I think many music fans underestimate the value they bring to a live musical experience. The people's presence makes the difference between an OK event and a magical and memorable musical experience."
For more information about the Downtown Billtown Music Festival visit www.billtownblues.org or caclive.com/index.php/music/DowntownBilltownMusicFestival.