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Jukehouse Bombers bring local sound to Indiana jazz and blues festival

| Friday, May 23, 2014, 3:27 p.m.
The local Jukehouse Bombers perform Feb. 1, 2014 at Indiana's Brown Hotel.
Lisa Kephart
The local Jukehouse Bombers perform Feb. 1, 2014 at Indiana's Brown Hotel.
Indiana's Jukehouse Bombers take a break before playing a concert during Johnstown's 2013 Thunder in the Valley motorcycle rally.
Submitted
Indiana's Jukehouse Bombers take a break before playing a concert during Johnstown's 2013 Thunder in the Valley motorcycle rally.

The first Delaney Chevrolet Westsylvania Jazz & Blues Festival hits Indiana's IRMC Park on North Seventh Street May 24, bringing with it an opportunity to enjoy live music free of charge and a chance for local musicians to rub elbows with national headliners.

The Jukehouse Bombers, based in Indiana and led by guitarists Jimmy Roach and his son, Joe, will be playing a set in tribute to local blues guitar legend Jeff Kelley, who died of cancer last year.

“Jeff was a chiropractor who lived in Clymer most of his life and he was a musician around here his whole life,” said Jimmy Roach, whose actual surname is Ranochock. “He was an incredible finger-style Delta Blues interpreter. A couple years ago, he actually finalled in the national Blues Championship in Memphis (and won the Blues Society of Western Pennsylvania's Blues Challenge in 2010)... He was just a really good all-around guy and one of the guys that I probably wouldn't even be in the music thing if it wasn't for seeing him whenever I was a kid.”

The Jukehouse Bombers started playing together in 2012. In addition to the Roaches, who both contribute vocals, the band includes bass player and vocalist Troy Laney of Elmora and drummer Mark Kephart of DuBois. The group's repertoire includes barrelhouse blues, soul and classic rock with original material as well as covers.

“We started playing together, man, and it seemed like magic was happening pretty quick,” Jimmy Roach said.

Familiarity with the band built during their shows at The Brown Hotel, where he serves as entertainment manager, made Downtown Indiana director and Westsylvania festival steering committee member Sean Howard immediately consider the Jukehouse Bombers for the event.

“I was the one who nominated Jukehouse Bombers as an option because they are such a good blues band and they were local,” Howard said. “I also do the bookings for the Brown Hotel on Water and Sixth Streets and I've had them play there numerous times. They always do a good job.”

The group is slated to take the stage at 3:15 p.m. and has also lined up an acoustic gig later in the day at Spaghetti Benders in downtown Indiana.

“I'm really happy that a few of the venues jumped on this opportunity,” to bring in bands playing at the festival to provide entertainment later that night, Howard said. “It's just amazing to see the elements come together and give our establishments downtown this opportunity.”

Jimmy Roach, who has been playing guitar since 1972, is looking forward to being part of the free live-music event he feels the area has been lacking.

“I think it's long overdue,” Roach said of the festival. “There hasn't been anything here in Indiana even remotely like that since the Arts Festival days. When they quit having the Arts Festival, there was a vacuum here for a while for anything like that.”

Indiana area jazz quintet the Dad Band, which was instrumental in organizing the festival, will kick off the entertainment at 10:30 a.m.

“We wanted to have a celebration and didn't want to charge people,” said Michael Powers, the Dad Band's saxophonist and Indiana University of Pennsylvania's director of electronic communications. “We wanted to make sure that people who aren't normally exposed to jazz and blues music have a chance to see it because it will be outside and it will be free.”

Beginning at 11 a.m., the festival will feature high school jazz bands from Marion Center, Hempfield and Indiana, as well as the Westsylvania All-Star High School Jazz Band at 12:30 p.m. The Old Masters, with special guest IUP music professor and festival steering committee member Laura Ferguson, will play at 1:15 p.m. and The ChopShop is scheduled to take the stage at 2:15. The Electromotives will follow the Jukehouse Bombers at 4:15 before blues headliner Sonny Landreth is scheduled to take the stage at 5:30, followed by jazz headliners the Poogie Bell Band with special guest Sean Jones at 7:30. Later in the night, The ChopShop will play again at The Brown Hotel while Kupkake Jazz will be featured at Indiana's Coventry Inn.

Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913 or greinbold@tribweb.com.

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