A rock ’n’ roll Christmas
Concert, set for tonight, to benefit school music program
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.
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.
Brandon Gibson, a fifth-grader from Pine Grove, is part of the 12-piece band.
Don Fortune, Schuylkill Haven, on keyboards and Jeff Palerino, a drummer with Rhythm & Brews are among the musicians helping out the cause.