By RONDA GREGORY
News & Journal Staff Writer
July–the birthday month of our nation–is the perfect month to celebrate everything American.
The Progressive Women’s Association of Harrison County UpTown Event Center in Clarksburg will be celebrating in a melodious manner by hosting their first-ever Americana Music Weekend this Friday (July 22) and Saturday (July 23).
Old-time country and blues and soul music genres will be on the bill, with performances by nationally acclaimed artists at the PWA/Uptown Event Center. Four different acts will be featured–two each night.
The Mavens, a popular roadhouse band from western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, are known as the “Kings of Western Swing” because of their twang sound and their dedication to original styles of country music.
“Area fans of old-time country and western music will have a rare opportunity to hear the ‘real thing’,” said Elinda Carson, Director of the PWA/UEC and a show organizer.
“The Mavens repertoire features what is called ‘original country and Western and Western swing’ music that was popular nationally in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s,” Carson explained. “Familiar artists such as Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys got their start in that early era of country music.”
She added, “This is the real old-fashioned country we listened to as kids. The Mavens’ pedal steel guitar player gives them that authentic sound.”
The Mavens, whose first CD received extensive national airplay and sales exceeding producers’ expectations, feature vocals, lead and rhythm guitars, a pedal steel guitar, drums and bass. The Mavens’ music samples can be found on YouTube and other Internet sites.
Opening for The Mavins is Todd Burge, who is a Parkersburg-based singer and guitarist. He had been praised by Mountain Stage founder Larry Groce as “West Virginia’s best songwriter”.
Organizers say this is a great first night of the Americana Music Weekend but Saturday’s lineup is exceptional as well.
The Billy Price Band headlines and is the winner of the “2015 Best Blues and Soul CD” at the Memphis Blues Awards. Price is known as a singer of “blue-eyed soul” who was vocalist on two of Roy Buckhannon’s CDs.
Annie Neeley, a bluegrass singer and guitarist, and her band will open for BPB.
Carson said proceeds from the event helps them enrich the community with arts and other entertainments. “Every dollar that we make enables us to go forward with our programs for the community,” she stated.
Monies made from the PWA’s facility – parking lot and building rentals – helps them with upkeep costs for the structure.
Tickets are $35 for both dinner and music for each night. Music-only tickets are $20.
Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. each night for dining, with the music entertainment starting at 7 p.m.
Each night a southwestern-inspired all-you-can-eat buffet, prepared by Chef Tim Gentilozzi, will be offered. However, different menu items will be on the buffet each night, so that people going both nights will have a diverse dining experience, Carson explained.
For more information about the weekend music extravaganza or to reserve tickets, call Carson at (304) 624-6881 or email UptownEventCenter2014@gmail.com. Members of the West Virginia Jazz Society are eligible for a discount and can order tickets through their membership at WVJazzSociety@aol.com or by phone to (304) 517-9813.
Carson recommends buying your tickets now. “It’s better to get tickets ahead of time in case they sell out,” she said. “And they are going fast.”
The event is sponsored by the Harrison Cultural Foundation’s Barbara Highland Fund for the Arts.
Carson reports they’d like to grow the event in the future to become a festival, which would involve including other merchants and vendors and expanding to the outdoors.
“We hope to turn the weekend event into an Americana Music Festival,” she said.
In the meantime, Carson said this weekend will be well worth buying a ticket and coming out.
“It will be a way to socialize, enjoy wonderful, delicious food, while experiencing excellent entertainment–our own music birthed in America,” Carson stated.