A rock ’n’ roll Christ­mas

Con­cert, set for tonight, to ben­e­fit school mu­sic pro­gram

The Republican Herald - This Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - BY DANIEL P. PROSICK COR­RE­SPON­DENT

With the first-year test run de­clared a suc­cess, a hol­i­day con­cert is look­ing to take the sec­ond step into tra­di­tion this week­end with a no­ble cause: help­ing fund the gift of mu­sic in school.

A Rock and Roll Christ­mas II will be held at 7 p.m. to­day in the au­di­to­rium at Pine Grove Area High School, 103 School St., Pine Grove. Tick­ets are $10 and can be bought at the door, ac­cord­ing to Ken Gib­son, high school band di­rec­tor and dean of stu­dents.

In its sec­ond year, the con­cert — which ben­e­fits the Car­di­nal Band — fea­tures songs from a va­ri­ety of pop­u­lar artists, in­clud­ing Trans-Siberian Orches­tra, John Cougar Mel­len­camp, Bryan Adams and more, Gib­son said.

“We learned about 24 songs last year, so this year we took about 10 of our fa­vorites and those that peo­ple reached out were their fa­vorites, and we added 14 more, in­clud­ing two that we are keep­ing a se­cret un­til the show. But you will hear mu­sic rang­ing from TSO to Ge­orge Thoro­good, Bruce Spring­steen to Martina McBride. We even throw in a lit­tle Jour­ney as a crowd fa­vorite,” Gib­son said.

He also said they have added sev­eral Chris­tian rock bands, as they have be­come very pop­u­lar, as well as a few sur­prises to high­light the var­i­ous tal­ents in the band.

“This re­ally is all about play­ing mu­sic and sup­port­ing mu­sic in our schools and live per­for­mance . ... The great­est part about this is that we all are fairly lo­cal mu­si­cians, one from Carlisle, but ev­ery­one else lo­cal tal­ent,” he said.

The 12-piece band fea­tures the three mem­bers of Rhythm & Brews — Mark Augst on gui­tar, Jeff Pa­lerino on drums and Gib­son on vo­cals — Clint Wolfe on bass; Brent Anspach, a 2017 PGA grad, and Kyle Brown, a PGA se­nior, on gui­tars; Don For­tune and Ethan Tucker, a PGA ju­nior, on key­boards; Kristy Aungst and Amy Jo Brix­ius on vo­cals; Ron Miller on saxophone/vo­cals; and Bran­don Gib­son, Ken’s son, fifth grade, on per­cus­sion. A spe­cial guest and the high school band per­cus­sion sec­tion will play on a few num­bers, Gib­son said.

But the mu­sic has as much to do with the mu­si­cians as it does the au­di­ence, and Gib­son hopes that the crowd will par­tic­i­pate as they wish.

“We en­cour­age peo­ple to get up and dance if the mu­sic moves you!” Gib­son said. “Most of the mu­sic is high en­ergy, but oc­ca­sion­ally we slow things down. Last year’s re­sponse was over­whelm­ing.

whelm­ing. We knew it was just a trial run­about when peo­ple re­sponded so pos­i­tively to the mu­sic, and the fact that we were all lo­cals, it re­ally told us that we were on the right track ... this year, we hope we im­press them even more with new songs and the high en­ergy. I think they will be sur­prised, and if they feel like clap­ping and mov­ing then all the bet­ter.”

A Rock and Roll Christ­mas, Gib­son said, was borne out of ne­ces­sity af­ter the Trans-Siberian Orches­tra trib­ute band that played shows at PGA for a decade can­celed the planned show last year. With the band booster club look­ing to fill the void, Gib­son said, a great deal of brain­storm­ing was done and it was de­ter­mined a band would be formed to play a Christ­mas con­cert of its own. Af­ter reach­ing out to per­form­ers, old friends and stu­dents, too, the pro­ject was un­der­way, and, ac­cord­ing to Gib­son, the re­sults bet­ter than ex­pected. Not only did stu­dents get to learn from the older mu­si­cians — and vice versa — but more tick­ets were sold for the show than any of the TSO trib­ute shows be­fore.

“These mu­si­cians have re­ally de­voted a huge amount of time to this one night of mu­sic. Peo­ple don’t re­al­ize how much ef­fort goes into a show like this, the hours of re­hearsal, the hours of prac­tice on your own, and for just one night. It’s re­ally a la­bor of love . ... This re­ally is all about play­ing mu­sic and sup­port­ing mu­sic in our schools and live per­for­mance. And we are all ev­ery­day peo­ple who come to­gether with a tal­ent for a good cause.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about A Rock and Roll Christ­mas II, call the high school at 570-345-2731, ext. 210, or stop by the school be­tween 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.

JACQUE­LINE DORMER / STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Ken Gib­son, left, and Mark Aungst, both of Pine Grove, re­hearse for A Rock and Roll Christ­mas II show, sched­uled for 7 p.m. to­day at Pine Grove Area High School. TOP: Amy Jo Brix­ius, Pine Grove, is one of the lo­cal per­form­ers who will take part in the con­cert.

JACQUE­LINE DORMER / STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Bran­don Gib­son, a fifth-grader from Pine Grove, is part of the 12-piece band.

JACQUE­LINE DORMER / STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Don For­tune, Schuylkill Haven, on key­boards and Jeff Pa­lerino, a drum­mer with Rhythm & Brews are among the mu­si­cians help­ing out the cause.

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