Music in the park
Summer Concerts in the ’Ville to feature tribute performer
Aseries of performances seeking to bloom from inaugural to annual are set to continue this weekend with an “almost” star singing his set.
The next installment of Summer Concerts in the ’Ville will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday at the Lions Club Amphitheater at Gen. George A. Joulwan East Side Park, Pottsville, according to City Administrator Thomas A. Palamar. The concert is free, BYOB and open to the public.
The show is “a really relaxed atmosphere where people can come out for a few hours with their family and friends and enjoy some good music,” Palamar said. “Usually, Sunday afternoons or early Sunday evenings are a time where it doesn’t conflict — it’s a day that people are already resting a little bit and wrapping up the weekend. We’re hoping it’s a tradition we can build every summer so that people can look forward to a concert series on Sunday evenings in Pottsville for years to come.”
Taking his turn at the venue this time around will be Tom Davis, a Pottsville native who plays under the stage name Tom as Garth or Almost Garth, not just covering songs but re-enacting the live persona of famous country singer Garth Brooks.
Davis offers both acoustic and concert-style performances and said this show “will cover both — the majority using tracks plus five or six songs with just the guitar.”
“I’ve been making my own backing tracks since 1987 after I bought a top-of-the-line drum machine and multitrack recorder,” Davis said. “I make my tracks for Tom as Garth with a concert feel and follow the Garth live versions, which are sometimes quite different from the record. Tempos vary from the recorded version of the song, and I put in endings such as you may hear at a live show. No consumer karaoke disc fadeouts or midi files played on a laptop!”
Davis — who’s played hundreds of concerts in Pottsville and thousands from Pennsylvania to Florida — will be reprising Brooks’ tracks such as “Friends in Low Places,” “The Dance,” “That Summer,” “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” “Thunder Rolls,” “Unanswered Prayers,” “Shameless” and “Papa Loved Mama.”
“I will also do some songs that Garth covers in concert. ... Some George Strait, Billy Joel, etc.,” Davis said, emphasizing that he’s not playing for the people — he’s playing with them, and having a blast doing it.
“Lyrically and musically, Garth’s material is magical, thoughtful and often just fun!”
Aside from the stage show, there will also be vendors, including Here Piggy Piggy, a food truck run by former country club chef Bill Shugars, Palamar said.
The idea for the shows came from Pottsville resident Linda Wytovich, who wanted to replicate concerts that were held at her former residence in California, as well as give the city residents something to do on a lazy Sunday.
“Linda came in in February and she said ‘What do you think about having a concert; do you think it would go over in Pottsville?’ And we were extremely excited because we’re very proud of the venue, and we were always looking for more ways to introduce more people to it and to bring people into Pottsville and show them the potential that Joulwan Park has for concerts,” Palamar said, adding that bands liked the acoustics and atmosphere of the park.
Although only in its incipience, the summer gettogethers are already looking promising.
“There have been so many other bands that have contacted her (Wytovich) and said ‘I’d love to be part of this next year.’ So we believe this is something that can grow, not only in numbers of people who attend, but perhaps to the number of concerts we have or the type of concerts we have as well. I think that there’s definitely a lot of potential for this concert series in the ’ville to grow.”
Playing next in the concert series will be Sapphire on Aug. 19, followed by The New Individuals — who were originally set to play July 19 but were postponed due to weather — on Aug. 26.
Tom Davis, a Pottsville native, will bring his "Tom as Garth" show to the Lions amphitheater on Sunday as part of the Summer Concerts in the ‘Ville series. The show will be held from 5 to 7 p.m.