News Column

Rainy night in Johnstown: Storm delays Boz Scaggs' performance

August 3, 2014

By Randy Griffith, The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.

Aug. 03--JOHNSTOWN -- Mary Garrity, 72, may have gotten her prize possession a little damp Saturday when the skies opened up, interrupting the Flood City Music Festival's headline performance by Boz Scaggs.

Garrity, a Johnstown native, brought her original vinyl copy of Scaggs' 1976 album, "Silk Degrees," with her and found front row seats at the Bud Light/Von's United Beverage stage. She arrived three hours early for the Scaggs show, along with her sister, Yvonne Irwin, 69, of Johnstown, and Irwin's high school classmate, Karen Kudelko, 69.

"I hope he can still sing as good," Irwin said while waiting for the 70-year-old rock icon to take the Bud Light/Von's United Beverage stage Saturday.

"It doesn't matter, I know all the words," she added.

Well, not quite all the words, Irwin admitted later after Scaggs opened with a set of numbers from his current album, "Memphis."

Then Scaggs eased into Brook Benton's the R&B classic "Rainy Night in Georgia." As he crooned, "Seems like it's raining all over the world," a light sprinkle turned into a heavy shower, sending much of the crowd scurrying for cover in the adjacent Subaru stage's tent.

After one more song, band members stepped back and plastic tarps covered valuable equipment. An announcement said the show would resume if the weather let up.

Indeed, within about 30 minutes, the show resumed with Scaggs' trademark "Lito Shuffle" from "Silk Degrees."

"A very large proportion of the crowd stayed with us," sponsoring Johnstown Area Heritage Association spokeswoman Shelley Johansson said.

"We are grateful to all of them for their patience."

Although Scaggs was the headliner, a better illustration of the Flood City Music Festival came a couple of hours earlier when local favorites Whiskey River Panhandlers performed just a few feet away from rising national stars Nahko and Medicine for the People.

The Panhandlers' laid-back, over-35 audience spread out through the Atlantic Broadband venue enjoying the familiar bluegrass and folk numbers from the stage.

Around the corner, the Nahko "tribe" of young, neo-hippies crushed the fence separating them from the People's Natural Gas stage as their "medicine" pounded from the stage.

The contrast was unmistakable, but also what the Johns-town event is all about, festival chairman Todd Wagner said.

"We have great headliners, but we bring in great underbilling, too," Wagner said. "It's organic. People move and get caught up into it."

The irony of Nahko and Medicine for the People's appearance on the People's Natural Gas stage was not lost on the environmentally conscious band's 12-string guitarist, Chase Makai.

"You have to pick your battles, and we all believe that clean water is the most important thing for humankind right now," Makai said, adding he believes fracking for Marcellus Shale gas is damaging water tables.

"Playing on this stage was very hard for us," Makai told a fan after the show. "We are totally against this (fracking)."

Nahko describes itself as a musical collective with a mission of motivating its "tribe" to take action and spread awareness of needed change.

Pressed to describe the band's musical genre, Makai said, "It's medicine through music."

Chad Williams traveled from Morgantown, West Virginia, to join the tribe in Johnstown.

"Every morning I sing it to my son," Williams told Makai. "I had to come and get some medicine. Every time I have a dark day I listen to the medicine."

The Flood City Music Festival continues at 1 p.m. Sunday, with music beginning at 2 p.m. on two stages. Lee Fields and the Expressions close the event with an 8 p.m. show.

Randy Griffith is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @photogriffer57.


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Source: Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown, PA)

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