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Concert series set to bring music to Monongahela

| Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Monongahela Innovations Inc. is planning weekly musical concerts this summer near the Noble J. Dick Aquatorium along the city's riverfront. The first one is set for June 8, 2013, featuring The Hillbilly Way. Jim Ference/The Valley Independent
The Hillbilly Way will kick off the 2013 summer series 'Rockin' on the Mon' at the Monongahela Gen. Carl E. Vuono Riverfront Park. Shown, from left, are band members Abby Abbondanza, Dave Cramer, Ryan Lucotch, David 'Junior' Guthrie, Jeff Volek and Bob 'Crafty' Crafton. Submitted photo

New affordable weekend activities will soon be front and center at the Gen. Carl E. Vuono Riverfront Park stage in Monongahela.

Monongahela Innovations is planning weekly musical concerts this summer at the Noble J. Dick Aquatorium along with fundraising events in the community.

Monongahela Innovations is a nonprofit organization recently formed to help manage the facility, maintain, schedule, staff and promote the recently-renamed park at Second Street near Railroad Street in the city.

The group plans to provide low-cost activities to draw visitors of all ages to the 3,200-plus seat capacity outdoor auditorium. A lawn area around the aquatorium provides additional seating.

Monongahela Councilwoman Claudia Williams is among the group's seven-member board.

“We felt this aquatorium was disgracefully underused,” said Williams, who has been researching restoration and expansion grants for the facility for several years.

“It's such a unique area, so peaceful and serene. It brings people out to enjoy the beauty of the river and the natural resources. We needed an interested group to take on the job of promoting the aquatorium and obtaining funds.”

Williams said the city has obtained about $2 million in grants, including funding from the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and from “Local Share” monies from gaming revenues at The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in North Strabane Township.

She said plans are to build a new comfort station with indoor concessions and restrooms and a skateboard park at the south end of the facility.

A temporary boat dock will be added to encourage boaters to “come up from the river and into the city,” Williams said.

She said the group is hopeful the restorations and additions will be ready by June.

The 2013 summer series “Rockin' on the Mon” will feature a lineup of top-notch concerts for all ages and musical tastes.

Local favorite The Hillbilly Way is set to perform at the June 8 kickoff concert and grand-opening activities.

Other concerts on tap are Jill West and the Blues Attack on June 15 and the “Oh What a Night” musical tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on June 29.

July 13 will feature Johnny Angel and the Halos, and Joe Gruschecky and the Houserockers will appear onstage July 20. Sydney Hutchko will entertain July 27.

The Billy Price Band will lead off the August list of entertainers on Aug. 3. Jimbo and the Soupbone will appear Aug. 10, Tres Lads will entertain Aug. 17, and No Bad JuJu will headline Aug. 24.

Williams said some concert slots have yet to be scheduled.

All concert tickets are $10. Season passes and multiple concert discount are available.

Tickets can be purchased at the event.

More information about each concert can be found on the Monongahela Aquatorium website at

Auditions can be arranged for opening-act performers.

The Monongahela Innovations raises funds for maintenance, security and staffing for events.

On March 23, the group will host a Dinner and Line Dancing Party with Arthur Murray instructors of South Hills. The $30 dinner and dance will be at the Monongahela Volunteer Fire Department social hall. Local D.J. Donn Henderson will spin tunes.

An April 13 fundraiser will feature George Solomon, a Ringgold School District graduate, in “George on Stage,” a one-man variety show at Ringgold High School. The cost of the April show is $15.

“We're very excited about this,” Williams said. “This is going to be a fun place on the Mon.”

Monongahela Valley Hospital, Tervita of Belle Vernon and CJs Furniture in Monongahela have pledged support for the concert series.

“We are actively seek sponsors to help us offer these concerts at such a low cost,” Williams said.

Colleen Pollock is a freelance writer.

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