Over the past 50 years, the Progressive Women’s Association at the Uptown Event Center (PWA/UEC) in Clarksburg has hosted numerous musical, dramatic and comedic performances, but on April 22, the building may have christened a new era in regional entertainment with the opening of Got Jazz!, a “pop up nightclub”, on the UEC’s first floor.
According to organizers, the response to the one-night-only, sold out, Got Jazz! event was very positive, and many who attended thought presenting other kinds of music in the “nightclub style” might be a good idea.
The PWA/UEC staff thought that sounded pretty good, too, so they have applied for and received a grant from The Cultural Foundation of Harrison County’s Barbara B. Highland Fund for the Arts to produce what they are calling “Americana Music Weekend” on Friday and Saturday, July 22-23, featuring four different genres of American music.
The two evening performances will be staged on the first floor of the Uptown Event Center by Mirage Sound of Grafton in consultation with The Media Man LLC, the production team that created Got Jazz!.
“We loved what they did before so we are working with the same team to create another nice entertainment space,” said Elinda Carson, Director of the PWA/Uptown Event Center. “We call it a ‘pop up nightclub’ because an empty cafeteria dining hall is suddenly transformed into something completely different. It’s almost magical what they do.”
The music for the Americana shows is listed as Western Swing (old time Country & Western) and American Troubadour on Friday night, with Memphis Blues & Soul and American Bluegrass filling the bill on Saturday night.
“We wanted to present as much variety in one weekend as seemed realistic,” added Carson. “By having music on two consecutive nights, we can present more music with fewer volunteers and much less expense. The Media Man guided us through the process of finding and booking talent.”
Headlining Friday, July 22, are The Mavens with Mountain Stage veteran, Todd Burge, opening with music beginning at 6:30pm. On Saturday, July 23, it’s the Billy Price Band from Pittsburgh with local favorite, Annie Neeley, opening the show at 7pm.
The Mavens are a popular road house band from western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. Their CD, The Mavens, was released in 2009, and received national airplay. Their repertoire features what is called “original country and western and western swing” music that was popular nationally in the 1920s and 1930s. 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.
“This is the real old-fashioned country we listened to as kids,” observed Carson. “The Mavens’ pedal steel guitar player gives them that authentic sound.”
Todd Burge, a Parkersburg-based singer and guitarist has been praised by Mountain Stage founder, Larry Groce, as “West Virginia’s best songwriter.”
The Billy Price Band from Pittsburgh won 2015 Best Blues and Soul CD at the prestigious Memphis Blues Awards. They are led by Price (born William Pollack) on vocals and harmonica, along with Steve Delach (guitar), Tom Valentine (bass), Dave Dodd (drums), Jimmy Britton (keyboards), and Eric DeFade (tenor sax).
Price first attracted national attention during his three-year association with guitarist Roy Buchanan. Price is the vocalist on two of Buchanan’s LPs, That’s What I’m Here For and Livestock. There is an extended Question and Answer interview with Price in the July edition of Improvisation, the West Virginia Jazz Society newsletter.
The Annie Neeley Band is a popular area bluegrass ensemble led by a Clarksburg native who has returned home after a long career in Nashville.
Music and a themed buffet dinner are available each night for $35 per person, with music only seats available for $20. Reservations are highly recommended as tickets are already selling. The first “pop up nightclub” show in the Uptown Event Center sold out in four days.
“We are planning a first class dinner buffet prepared by Chef Tim Gentilozzi,” said Carson. “We are going to have Southwestern cuisine on Friday and Memphis Style Barbecue Chicken and Ribs on Saturday.”
The production team behind Americana Music Weekend includes board members and volunteers from the Progressive Women’s Association, the West Virginia Jazz Society, Mirage Sound of Grafton, and entertainment entrepreneur Tim Gentilozzi.
“We see the potential to follow the West Virginia Jazz Society’s model of presenting music in multiple venues at the same time, so this could become an ‘Americana Stroll’ and another good reason to visit uptown Clarksburg,” said Carson.
Call 304-624-6881 for information or to order tickets, or email for tickets through PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org. West Virginia Jazz Society members can order tickets through Americana@WVJazzSociety.com.