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Holidays set to perform at Vandergrift's Casino Theatre

| Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
The Holidays
The Holidays oldies group will perform July 25 in a special concert at the Casino Theatre in Vandergrift.

On July 25, the Casino Theatre in Vandergrift will host the Pittsburgh oldies band The Holidays. The 90-minute show will highlight the best music from the 1950s, '60s, '70s, Motown and R&B.

“Washington Township High School will hold their general high-school reunion, and they are also highlighting the class of '64 as they celebrate their 50th reunion,” says Marilee Kessler, vice president of the Casino Theatre board of directors. “They wanted some entertainment for the evening, and we thought The Holidays would be great.

This will be the second time The Holidays have performed at the Casino.

More than 50 years ago, five young men from Clairton had a dream of entertaining. The Holidays debuted in 1958. They enjoyed regional success until 1962 when the band split up, with members leaving to raise families and fulfill military obligations.

The band re-formed with new members in 1995. Sam Ferrella joined as their new front man, singing tenor and lead. He also has promoted and managed the band since 1999.

The Holidays were invited to perform in 2001 for WQED's “The Sound of Pittsburgh.” The band has opened for acts such as Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, The Vogues, The Marcels, and Jimmy Beaumont and the Skyliners.

“The audience can expect a show with great harmonies, high energy and lots of great music from doo-wop and rock 'n' roll to Motown and disco,” Ferrella says. “We look forward to performing at The Casino again; it's a really nice theater.”

The Casino Theatre opened in 1900 and is Southwestern Pennsylvania's oldest operating theater.

“It's on the National Historic Register, and we operate solely with volunteers with the goal of preserving the Casino. The ticket proceeds will benefit the theater restoration and equipment fund,” Kessler says.

Jerry Mellix, aka, “Southside Jerry” has been performing with The Holidays for more than seven years. “Except for the year I spent fighting in Vietnam, holding a M-16 instead of a sax, I've been performing professionally since 1962.”

Mellix plays sax and offers vocals, too. “Performing with The Holidays is like playing Carnegie Hall with ‘cream of the crop' talent.

“There are too many reasons to list on why I love performing with Sam and The Holidays,” Mellix says. “In this music business of egos that are usually larger than the talent itself, we all get along with each other. We all work together to make the show exciting, and we also dress for each performance reflecting the genre of music played.”

“Our band has five musicians and four singers,” Ferrella says. “We love performing the oldies. This music will last forever.”

Josephine Crooks is the sole female member of the band.

“I enjoy harmonizing, and everyone is great. We are like a family and I feel honored to be a part of this group,” Crooks says.

“Tickets will be available at the door, and the concert is open to the public,” Kessler says. “I want to stress that the public is welcome at this evening concert, and if you don't have tickets then just come on down early. The doors open at 6:30 p.m.”

Joyce Hanz is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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