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Glenn Miller Orchestra, Chris Smither among headliners for Greensburg's SummerSounds series

| Monday, March 10, 2014, 11:21 p.m.

Gene James pulled over his car when he heard the woman singing on his radio in January.

James, who selects bands with Westmoreland County Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. for Greensburg's annual SummerSounds concert series, didn't want to miss the woman's name. He hoped to book her for a show this summer.

His roadside stop paid off: Nicole Atkins will open the 15th Annual SummerSounds on June 6 at St. Clair Park.

“She is amazing,” James said.

“I thought she actually was probably beyond our budget,” he said, but she agreed to do a show.

James, McCormick and others on the SummerSounds' committee have completed the 2014 lineup, with only one past performer scheduled to appear: Chris Smither on Aug. 15.

James and McCormick said they try to keep the sounds fresh at the free concert series held on Friday nights in the summer.

“That's what SummerSounds is all about,” James said.

“I think we're doing well with the budget we have getting national acts,” McCormick said.

James praised Smither's acoustic blues.

“He's the only solo act we've ever had,” James said. “He's a gifted writer and the most accomplished guitarist I think I've ever heard.”

When Smither takes the stage, “it sounds like two people are playing guitar,” James said.

The Glenn Miller Orchestra on July 25 is “a coup” for SummerSounds, he said. The 20-member band, of course, plays Big Band songs and operates under “the overture of the Glenn Miller estate.”

SummerSounds performers have been nominated for or won prestigious Grammy Awards, James noted.

“We've done a pretty good job of getting the people before they're discovered,” he added.

McCormick is looking forward to The Duhks on Aug. 1.

“They are a Canadian band that I've been watching for years and trying to book,” he said.

The band went on hiatus but now is back on the road.

“I think they're going to be well-received,” McCormick said. “They're a lot of fun.”

McCormick said he is looking forward to performances by Beau Soliel on July 18; Birds of Chicago, Aug. 22; and Pittsburgh-based Cello Fury with vocalist Joy Ike, June 20.

“They're all wonderful bands,” James said. “I'm looking forward to hearing all of them.”

The concert series has drawn approximately 30,000 people each of the past few years.

Weather plays the biggest role in determining turnout, James and McCormick said.

“I think that if we have nice Friday nights, we'll break records,” McCormick said.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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