July 09--Erie native Gerard Uht, 24, couldn't have envisioned a better homecoming Tuesday night.
Uht played keyboards for the Los Angeles band The Evening Guests, which opened the 15th anniversary season of the 8 Great Tuesdays summer concert series at Liberty Park'sBurger King Amphitheater.
The six-man band, which formed about one and a half years ago, entertained an estimated crowd of about 2,000 under sunny skies and warm temperatures.
The show went off without any hitches after afternoon thunderstorms roared through Erie and damaged some tents at the park.
"We lost some tents, and a bit of the equipment was knocked over, but we pulled together and got everything set back up," said Robin Waldinger, the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority's events coordinator. "There was no stage damage. People who were here during the storm said it was quite an experience."
On nights when the weather is outstanding, 8 Great Tuesdays concerts will average 5,000 to 7,000 in attendance, Waldinger said.
Uht, who has lived in Los Angeles the past four years, expected more than 200 friends and family members to attend Tuesday's concert.
"This is one of the biggest crowds we've ever played for," Uht said. "We came back to Erie last year and did some little shows, but we wanted this to be blown out and amazing.
"Erie is an amazing hub for music," Uht said. "This place is a great incubator. You come here, people love what you do, they're appreciative, they want to pay for it, they want to be there and support you. Then you go to Los Angeles, where they just want to steal your wallet, punch you in the face and tell you you suck. You come home and it's amazing."
Joe Passerotti, 50, of McKean Township, said he has attended nearly every 8 Great Tuesdays concert since the free summertime series began in 2000.
"I like how they change up all the bands and change the music genre," Passerotti said. "They get a nice mix to keep people of all ages coming here."
RON LEONARDI can be reached at 870-1680 or by e-mail.
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