Rock (and more) gets its jingle on at Vandergrift's Casino Theatre
For the musical Shannon Family of the Kiski Valley, Jingle Bell Rock is more than just an annual event.
This year's event is Dec. 9 at the Casino Theatre, Vandergrift,
“The show for us has become a fun, family tradition, especially for the kids. They love the performance,” says John Shannon, who, with brother Jim, both of Parks Township, are members of the country rock band Barn Hill. “Kids grow up fast and the Christmas season doesn't last long, so it's been a real pleasure to perform at this event.”
This year's line-up, in addition to the Shannon Family, is the Rocking Scientists, the Christmas Experience band, Heidi and the Hellcats, the Big Band stylings of Magic and the Southern rock of Sour Mash.
Delmont comedian Shaun Blackham returns as master of ceremonies.
“He is very entertaining and keeps it family-friendly,” says Vandergrift musician and show producer Linda Boarts.
Everyone involved in the show donates their time.The 11th Jingle Bell Rock proceeds will be donated to Meals on Wheels in Vandergrift, Apollo and Lower Burrell.
The repertoire ranges from original songs to Christmas classics.
“This year we will be honoring Bud Shannon of Parks Township for his years contributing to country music in the Alle-Kiski Valley,” Boarts says. “His sons and grandchildren will be on stage for the recognition.”
John Shannon says his family is honored and appreciative that their father and grandfather, who also is chairman of Parks Township board of supervisors, was chosen for this tribute. “My dad is quite a respected guy in the area for sure,” he says.
Bud Shannon, now 75, began playing music in his early 20s, and is well known for his band, Bud Shannon and the Country Gentlemen. One of his dad's favorite memories is opening a show as a young man for country legend Ernest Tubb in Ligonier.
Original rockers Discrete Signal, now performing as the Rocking Scientists, has played every Jingle Bell Rock concert.
“Performing for the local audience is quite a feeling. They are simply great and their applause makes writing and performing our own songs more than worth it,” says Gary Ritenour of Washington Township, lead vocalist, percussionist and keyboardist in the band.
He is joined by lead guitarist Joe Moore of Rural Valley and Kurt Dunmire of Vandergrift, on bass and six-string guitar. Every year, the group composes three new Christmas songs for Jingle Bell Rock.
“We love the (Casino Theatre) and sharing the camaraderie with fellow local talented musicians,” Ritenour says. “Every year the show benefits a noble cause and that makes it even better.”
Rex Rutkoski is a Tribune Review contributing writer.