Kittanning's Arts on the Allegheny music series opens with Gaelic Storm

| Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 8:28 p.m.

When a band has been invited to participate three times in six years in a concert series, it's a safe bet that they have something good going on.

In the case of Celtic rockers Gaelic Storm, opening the free admission Arts on the Allegheny season in Kittanning on June 22 at the John P. Murtha Amphitheatre, Riverfront Park, that something is extremely good, say longtime fans and new converts of the group that first took the international spotlight in its cameo in the blockbuster film “Titanic.”

While the band's albums, including the new “Chicken Boxer,” have debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard World album charts, it's onstage where the best of the band's magic happens.

“Hands will hurt from clapping, feet will hurt from dancing, you will forget your problems for two hours,” guitarist and vocalist Steve Twigger says. He and frontman Patrick Murphy, native of Cork, Ireland, who once punched actor Russell Crowe, a story memorably captured in song, are the foundation of the group. Kiana Weber, former member of the violin troupe, Barrage, has replaced fiddler Jessie Burns.

“People love Gaelic Storm because they're lively, spirited and have great lyrics,” says Mary Ann Valasek,” chairwoman of the volunteer Arts on the Allegheny board. “The response has been overwhelming. People who didn't make the first two concerts don't want to miss this one, because they've heard so many great things about them.”

When they performed in 2011 for the second time, Valasek says it was evident that “the audience loved the band and the band loved the audience — enough to play through fairly constant rain when most bands and audiences would have run for cover. It was memorable for everyone.”

The band's 8:30 p.m. show will be preceded with a dose of indie rock from Kittanning and Ford City-based Ben Valasek and the Growlers, whose debut album is “Time Waits for No One,” at 7 p.m.; and Kittanning violin-fiddle soloist Matt Janovsky at 6 p.m. Janovsky, a student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, plays Celtic, classic, country, rock, hip-hop and more.

“The amount of local talent that we have in this area is amazing. We want to include as many as possible each summer,” Mary Ann Valasek says.

For the series' second event — Party in the Park — country vocalist Cheree White from Worthington, the Abacus Jones rock band from Fayette County and classic rockers The Travelers, made up of members from Kittanning, Ford City and the Dayton area, will entertain on July 20. The day will include magician Tim Kutch of Kittanning, the popular Chili Cook-Off and the new “Best Ever Brownie Bake-Off.” Activities are set to begin at 1 p.m.

Krissie Jo Williams Band, with a repertoire of country and rock, and the Alle-Kiski rock band The Remedy will perform at the closing event of the season, Aug. 24, starting at 6 p.m. It will be headlined by the series return of one of Pittsburgh's favorite bands, who contractually cannot be named until later this summer.

“This kind of series is unique for a small town. We want to see it continue to thrive and grow,” Mary Ann Valasek says. The committee tries to present a variety of musical styles.

“The crowds keep growing. All the pieces come together to make this series work,” she adds. “It's an opportunity for people of all ages to enjoy good music and good times in a beautiful setting.”

Rex Rutkoski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4664 or

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