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Vandergrift's Casino Theatre will be rockin' holiday favorites

| Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, 8:54 p.m.
Brady Bottegal
“Lenny Collini & the Christmas Experience” will perform at the Vandergrift Casino during the Jingle Bell Rock Concert Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012. The boy in front is Joe Collini. Others from left are: John Trygar, Connie Collini, John Fox, Ernie Sipolino and Letizia Collini. Brady Bottegal
Brady Bottegal
“The Shannon Family” will perform at the Vandergrift Casino during the Jingle Bell Rock Concert Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012. Kneeling are Sam Shannon and Sophie Shannon. Standing are Sadie Shannon and Julie Shannon. Brady Bottegal
Courtesy of "On the Ridge"
The band “On the Ridge” will perform at the Vandergrift Casino during the Jingle Bell Rock Concert Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012. Courtesy of 'On the Ridge'

Nothing puts you in the Christmas spirit like holiday music.

So says Dave Minda of the Minda Brothers Band. His group and seven other local acts will do their best to get music lovers in a festive mood at the Casino Theatre's Jingle Bell Rock Concert.

The show, happening at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the historic Vandergrift venue, promises such a variety of songs, that it's sure to make even the stingiest Scrooge ready to celebrate the season. Admission is $5 for the event, which benefits the theater.

Added into the festive mix is a spirit of camaraderie that organizers and bands alike cite as a hallmark of recent Casino concerts that endeavor to bring local performers together.

“If anyone got to see the blues show we did in September, they witnessed something magical,” says Minda, who plays guitar in the three-piece band. “It was beautiful — for us, for the audience. To put all of these musicians together on one stage and to make music together, and just ‘be' the music. It's hard to describe.”

The addition of holiday favorites only adds to the warmth of a show sure to please everyone with its mix of great local bands. Among them, Minda's blues-based act, country group On the Ridge, and the roots-inspired Rising Regina.

“The thing about this that I am looking forward to is hearing all of the different genres of music being presented all doing traditional Christmas music. It's going to be great,” On the Ridge lead vocalist Marcie Covey says.

The versatile Rising Regina will play traditional songs like “Away in a Manger” and fun favorites like “The Chipmunk Song.” Rich Kulbacki, the band's business manager, and an instrumentalist and vocalist, is happy to return to the Casino, where the group has previously played a Christmas show.

“We're looking forward to playing again in one of the most beautiful theaters in the state, and helping toward making it even better by raising money to continue the renovation process,” he says.

Other acts include Discrete Signal, whose performance will feature two original Christmas songs, and the country-infused Shannon Family. Jazz vocalist Marva Josie and keyboardist Skip Bennett will perform, as will the funky Fat Henry Band and the Lenny Collini and the Christmas Experience, which offers an exciting mix of music and theatrics.

Each band will play an individual set and will wrap with a grand finale that brings all the performers together. According to Jeff Knabb, bassist in the Fat Henry Band, the second annual Christmas show promises to be unique and offer surprises. But it also stays true to holiday tradition.

“As far as the music goes, that's why we're there, to entertain people makes you feel good about yourself. There's a message in music,” he says. “It's really about coming together as a family, as a family of bands, and entertaining audiences and entertaining each other.”

Julie Martin is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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