Categories Archives: Jazz/Popular

BEO String Quartet
Jason NeukomViolin
Sandro Leal SantiestebanViolin
Sean NeukomViola
Ryan AshCello

In 2018 Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts  continues its successful Educational ArtReach program begun in 2009, bringing the celebrated BEO String Quartet to perform an arts education residency in the Allegheny-Clarion Valley Schools on Wednesday, March 14, 2018.   The seasoned Beo String Quartet teaching artists will conduct three small classroom workshops for students in grades 1 to 6 and two assembly concerts for students from grades K to 12 in the A-C Valley Elementary gymnasium and Senior High School auditorium.

“[Beo] had nearly 900 children, ranging from grades 3-8, with [them] from the very start, and provided memorable insights in how to listen to chamber music. All were captivated and inspired.”  -Ruth Waalkes, Associate Provost for the Arts, Executive director, Moss Arts Center

A shared dedication to the continued understanding, exploration, and love of music is what inspired Jason Neukom, Sean Neukom, Sandro Leal-Santiesteban, and Ryan Ash to form the Beo String Quartet. The ensemble performs the masterpieces of the string quartet repertoire, collaborates with living composers, and engages new listeners through performance, thoughtful demonstration, and a strong social media presence.

Formed in 2015, the Beo String Quartet presents uniquely crafted educational seminars, as well as formal and informal performances. The ensemble has held residencies at music festivals, including the Charlotte New Music Festival, Virginia Tech and Dakota Chamber Music, where they coached and performed alongside the celebrated Ying String Quartet. The group was also selected as a major winner in the Pittsburgh Concert Society competition in 2016.

“Beo String Quartet is without a doubt the most professional, talented, and visionary ensemble that I have ever worked with. I say this after working […] for the past seven years as the Founder and Artistic Director of the annual International Charlotte New Music Festival.” -Elizabeth Kowalski,  Charlotte New Music Festival

About the Beo String Quartet at A-C Valley Schools

ARCA’s arts education program fulfills its mission as a non-profit organization, demonstrating its commitment to contribute to the future of the Allegheny-Clarion valley community through the arts education of its young people. ARCA is grateful for its partnership with the A-C Valley School Board, administrators, faculty and music specialists in making this program possible.

Beo String Quartet musicians will perform three small workshops for Allegheny-Clarion Valley Elementary students in grades 1 to 6 in the morning, prior to performing two assembly concerts for all K-6 students in the Elementary School gymnasium and for Jr. and Sr. High School students in the High School Auditorium.

Designed specifically as an arts education resource for A-C Valley students, the Beo String Quartet assembly concerts and workshops are not open to the public. Because there is no admission for any residency events, ARCA relies on contributions from the community to support its art education program in the A-C Valley Schools. Anyone interested in making a contribution or becoming an ARCA member may do so on this site.

In advance of their residency, elementary music teacher, A-C Valley choral director and musical theatre director Jennifer Lowrey will prepare students in K-6 for the small workshops, introducing them to the instruments in the string family.  Jennifer Lowrey said of ARCA’s arts education program, “The students at A-C Valley have a love for the arts. The programming ARCA has brought into our district over the years has nurtured that love and opened a window into a world of professional artistic excellence that many students otherwise might not get a chance to experience. It also has given them a glimpse of the possibility of who they could become as an artist.”

Beo String Quartet

“…what impressed me most was how they got deep inside my music, and put themselves into my sound world to create something new and powerful. Their interpretation of my quartet was simply astounding and showed tremendous maturity and drive. They played every note like it was the last note they would ever play! An absolutely spectacular group of young, hungry musicians.”  – Marc Mellits, University of Illinois at Chicago

A shared dedication to the exploration and love of music is what inspired the formation of Beo String Quartet (Jason Neukom, Sean Neukom, Sandro Leal-Santiesteban, Ryan Ash). Beo aims to exist as a 21st century music ensemble by performing live, in any venue, the masterpieces of the string quartet repertoire; collaborating with living composers to showcase the music of our time; engaging new listeners through entertainment and thoughtful demonstration; and participating in our modern global culture through a strong social media presence.

Formed in 2015, Beo’s first two years saw a wide range of successes. On tour the group presents uniquely-crafted educational seminars as well as formal and informal performances. Beo has held residencies at music festivals including the Charlotte New Music Festival and Dakota Chamber Music during which they coached and performed alongside the celebrated Ying String Quartet. Beo was selected as a Major Winner for the Pittsburgh Concert Society competition in 2016. More recently, Beo entered the studio to produce recordings of Beethoven String Quartet No.7 in F Major, Op.59 No.1 and Béla Bartók’s String Quartet No.4.

Beo has developed a reputation for their enthusiasm and dedication to new music. With their continued residency with the Charlotte New Music Festival, Beo performs many works by both young and well established composers and is able to work closely with the participants regarding the intricacies of writing for the string quartet. In conjunction with CNMF, they have held two annual Charlotte New Music and Beo String Quartet National Composition Competitions and are in the process of holding a third. In the competition’s inaugural year, Andrew List’s String Quartet No.5, “Time Cycles”, was selected from ninety-six entries. The work was recorded in July of 2016 and is now availble on Beo’s website. The winner of the second competition is Max Giteck Duykers’ “Glass Blue Cleft”, selected from 110 entries, and will be recorded late in 2017.

In addition to regular performances, other 2017-2018 projects include multi-tiered residencies at schools such as Virginia Tech and University of North Carolina Greensboro, as well as a two-week long educational tour in North Dakota. Beo is also in the process of creating a triple quartet, multi-media work composed by their very own Sean Neukom. The summer of 2018 will also find Beo teaching and performing at Dakota Chamber Music and Charlotte New Music Festival.

The essence of a professional string quartet in the 21st century can be enigmatic. Beo believes that in addition to stunning performances and education outreach, a modern chamber ensemble needs to take into account how music is consumed today. As such, Beo dedicates a large amount of time to producing recordings and video projects directed toward an online world. Such content includes humorous videos such as Tim Burton’s “This is Halloween”, multimedia performance projects, performance with live electronics, and more. Additionally, Beo performs both original rock/pop works and covers of favorite songs in band settings under the name Beo Underground.

The members of Beo String Quartet hold degrees from some of the country’s top conservatories including the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Eastman School of Music, and Carnegie Mellon University School of Music. They have collectively studied chamber music with the Ying Quartet, the Pacifica Quartet, the Cavani Quartet, the Miami String Quartet, the Cuarteto Latinoamericano, and members of the Cleveland, Guarneri, and Borodin String Quartets.

With several major projects in the works, keep an eye out for more videos, unique performances, recordings, and collaborations. Also, be sure to follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, where you can find many of our projects. It’s also a great way to stay up to date on all things Beo.

Violinist Jason Neukom is a founding member of the Beo String Quartet and has dedicated the majority of his career to chamber music both in performance and in education. An avid supporter of new music, he has given over one hundred chamber music world premieres and considers it very important to perform the music of today.

Jason’s passion for chamber music began while studying with the Ying Quartet, and since then has worked with the Fry Street Quartet, the Daedalus Quartet, and other well known ensembles. Some of Mr. Neukom’s favorite activities with Beo include teaching at Dakota Chamber Music (where his chamber music ‘spark’ began), working with developing composers at the Charlotte New Music Festival, and spending time on Beo pet projects such as original music videos. Prior to forming Beo, Jason was the first violinist of the Freya String Quartet from 2009-2015.

For Jason, music is a family affair, as he grew up playing music with both parents and his brother, Sean Neukom. Whether it was playing as  a family string quartet for social functions or reading through one of his father’s recent compositions in the living room, music has always been a daily activity that was a major part in forming strong bonds to both his family and to sharing music. This has carried into Jason’s professional life, as he frequently performs the music of both RIchard and Sean Neukom. Some of Jason’s proudest musical moments include recording an encore-style album of string quartets with Freya written for him by both Richard and Sean Neukom (called ‘Snapshots’), and recording violin parts for two of Sean Neukom’s visionary albums (‘The Ghost and Mr. Able’ and ‘Dead Reckoning’).

Mr. Neukom enjoys playing  a variety of  music genres and has performed live shows with Bruce Springsteen, Evanescence, Barry Manilow, Josh Groban, Lee Greenwood, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Pink Martini, Belle and Sebastian, Mannheim Steamroller, Tony Orlando, and other notable artists. In addition to live shows, Jason is an experienced studio violinist and you can hear him on several albums in a variety of styles.

Jason studied at Minot State University, the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and Carnegie Mellon University School of Music, under the guidance of Dr. Jon Rumney, Piotr Milewski, and Professor Cyrus Forough, respectively. He has been awarded fellowships to programs such as the National Repertory Orchestra, the National Orchestral Institute, the Opera Theater and Music Festival of Lucca, Italy, the Britten Pears Festival Orchestra in England, and has held teaching positions and assistantships at programs such as the Cincinnati Starling Project and the New York Summer Music Festival. As a soloist, he has made several appearances with orchestra.

Mr. Neukom currently resides in Pittsburgh and serves as a concertmaster of Pittsburgh Festival Opera, as associate concertmaster of the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, served as concertmaster for Opera Theater of Pittsburgh from 2013 to 2016, regularly performs with the West Virginia Symphony, the Wheeling Symphony, and has also performed with the Vancouver Symphony and Sarasota Orchestra. In addition to his frequent concerts, Jason maintains an active violin studio and enjoys working on media projects for Beo.

Violinist Sandro Leal Santiesteban began his musical journey in Havana, Cuba. While living in Cuba, he performed with many orchestras in the Americas including the Oakland Youth Symphony Orchestra, the New England Conservatory Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, the Gustav Mahler Youth Symphony Orchestra, and throughout Europe with the Cuban Dance Company of Lizt Alfonso and the Sinfónica de Matanzas. At age sixteen, Sandro was selected to perform Sarasate’s “Zigeunerweisen” for Claudio Abbado and was featured with the Sinfónica de Matanzas, performing Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto under the baton of his mother, Lourdes Santiesteban.

After immigrating to the U.S. in 2001, Sandro studied for a year at the preparatory school of New England Conservatory with former Boston Symphony principal second violin Marylou Churchill. Sandro continued his studies at the Eastman School of Music with Mikhail Kopelman, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in violin performance and then subsequently studying with Cyrus Forough at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Music where he obtained both his Master’s degree in Violin Performance and a certificate from the Performance Residency Program. Sandro has received fellowships to notable festivals such as Musicorda String Summer Camp; the Manchester Music Festival; Round Top Festival Institute; the Spoleto Festival as assistant concertmaster; and the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, where he toured throughout Europe and South America. Mr. Leal has studied with the Shanghai String Quartet, the Ying Quartet, the Brentano Quartet, the Cuarteto Latinoamericano, the Miami String Quartet, and with violinists Elmira Darvarova, Ilya Kaler, Jorja Fleezanis, and Ian Swensen.

Memorable performances for Sandro include the Mendelssohn String Octet alongside former concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Andrés Cárdenes, Behzad Ranjbaran’s Violin Concerto with the Carnegie Mellon University Philharmonic as first prize winner of the Carnegie Mellon University concerto competition, and an American tour with the Sphinx Chamber Orchestra following a semi-finalist award for the 2006 Sphinx Competition. Other notable concerts include playing under the direction of Plácido Domingo, Kent Nagano, and Carlos Miguel Prieto.

Sandro is currently a member of the first violin section of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, the Erie Philharmonic, the Erie Chamber Orchestra, and is concertmaster of Resonance Works. Additionally, Sandro has a private violin studio in the Pittsburgh area. Sandro is currently a member of the Beo String Quartet taking him as far as Charlotte New Music Festival, NC, and a tour in North Dakota this year. Sandro has been winner of the Pittsburgh Concert Society for two years in a row; the first time as a soloist and the second time in chamber music (with Beo). One of Sandro’s current projects is a studio solo album featuring Sean Neukom’s Solo Violin Sonatas, the fourth of which is dedicated to him.

Composer and violist Sean Neukom began his violin studies at the age of three at joint lessons with his brother, Jason. These lessons, taught by their father, laid the foundation for an intense love, respect, and appreciation for music and for making music as brothers. This love of music took Sean to Minot State University where he received a Bachelor in Music degree, under Dr. Jon Rumney. While at MSU Sean’s musical curiosity lead to the start of compositions in the form of exercises. Following Minot, Sean went on to the Cleveland Institute of Music to earn a Master of Music degree in violin performance under the violin division head at the time, David Updegraff.

Sean’s mainstay as a performer is as the violist, and as a founding member, of Beo String Quartet. Prior to Beo String Quartet, Sean played violin in the Milhaud Trio for three years. (In 2007 the Milhaud Trio gave one of the few American performances of Darius Milhaud’s only piano trio with the composer’s wife in attendance.) Additionally, Sean studied the inner workings of chamber music extensively with members of the Ying Quartet and with Peter Salaff of the Cleveland Quartet. When not performing with Beo String Quartet, Sean is the principal 2nd violin with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. Leading up to the winning of this post, Sean played violin in many top ensembles including the Nashville Symphony and the New Zealand based Southern Sinfonia.

As a composer, Sean’s works cover a wide range of styles. His concert works have been commissioned by organizations such as the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Charlotte-based Fresh Ink new music series, the innovative multi-media music and dance group Cadence Collective out of Milwaukee, and most recently by the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra (DPO). The DPO commissioned Sean to write a violin concerto for their illustrious concertmaster, Jessica Hung Calligan, and will be premiering the work in May 2018. Sean’s pop-art works are self produced and are approached through the same creative means as his concert works, but with the goal of reaching ears both in and out of a concert hall. Such albums include The Ghost & Mr. Able, Dead Reckoning, and a yet to be named new album currently being composed. Beo String Quartet, being joined by two other stunning musicians, will be starting to perform these albums live in 2017 under the name of “The Beo Plug-In”.

An awareness of the changing ways in which music is consumed and produced in the 21st century has lead Sean to really consider how music groups and organizations are managed. His first step into such waters was with the organization named Symbiotic Collusion that ran from 2011 to 2014. This group was run as a for-profit outfit and with the notion that by having products and services to sell one could finance their own artistic projects. Elements of this have been brought to Beo String Quartet but with the necessary tweaks all endeavors require. Sean believes that music is one of the most enriching elements for humankind and that the modern musician needs to know how to market and illicit a call to action just as well as play their instrument. This combination of an intense love for chamber music, a desire to connect different audiences through like music, and a practiced sense of entrepreneurship through music has shaped Sean’s early and developing career.

Ryan Ash, cellist, began his musical studies on the piano at the age of six. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studying cello with Brandon Vamos (of the Grammy-winning Pacifica Quartet) and piano with Dr. Yu-Chi Tai, and his Master of Music degree at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University with Dr. Tanya Carey, former president of the SAA and with whom he continues long-term teacher training every summer. Ryan has also taken teacher training with Dr. Louis Bergonzi and Dr. Karen Hendricks (cello), Caroline Fraser (piano),  and Melanie Ron (early childhood music).  He has performed in masterclasses for Steven Doane, Richard Aaron, David Halen, Amit Peled, John Sharp, Wendy Warner, the Arianna, Biava, and Shanghai String Quartets, and has spent summers studying at the Meadowmount School, Innsbrook Institute, Madeline Island Music Camp, Britt Festival, and the Astona International Festival in Leysin, Switzerland.

Before relocating to Pittsburgh, Ryan performed frequently as a member of the Sinfonia da Camera, the Champaign-Urbana, Eastern Illinois, and Decatur Symphony Orchestras, and the Lyria Piano Trio. His performance of Gian Carlo Menotti’s Trio for Two Cellos and Piano was also featured on Chicago’s classical radio station 98.7 WFMT. Ryan has since performed recitals of solo and chamber music on the Holy Trinity Concert Series, OvreArts, Music on the Edge, Living Room Chamber Music Project, and appeared with Ripieno Pittsburgh as well as the Westmoreland, Butler County, Huntington, and Ohio Valley symphonies. He maintains a teaching studio at the Center for Young Musicians.

If you love the oldies and Doo Wop and 60s close harmony, then whatever you do this spring do not miss PURE GOLD:  Spring Doo Wop and Golden Oldies on Saturday, May 12 at 7:30 in Foxburg’s Lincoln Hall. Celebrate Mother’s Day Weekend with ARCA – and dance in the back of the hall, rocking’ and rollin’ the night away to five voices in perfect harmony and a red-hot rhythm section that add up to nothing less than PURE GOLD.

“Pure Gold possesses so much pure talent and class…established as one of the finest oldies acts in the country… more than soulful messengers as they resurrect and restore these songs with the passion of an avid record collector.”   Dave Goodrich, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

With signature acappella vocals and four-part harmonies, Pure Gold delivers diverse sounds and musical styles with a stage presence that transcends audience ages and backgrounds. Bringing the golden age of American vocal harmony to performances from Radio City Music Hall to The Waldorf Astoria and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Pure Gold doo-wops their way through the decades, performing material from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, as well as a blend of blues, standards and original material to highlight their unique talents and range – as heard in their four CD releases:  Collage • Forever • Acappella Christmas • The Acappella Album.

Celebrating their 40th Anniversary in 2018, PURE GOLD has performed for 30 million viewers on PBS in programs over the years, including Doo Wop 50; Doo Wop 51; and Rock, Rhythm & Doo Wop.  Other television shows include Soul Spectacular; Soul & Inspiration; This Land Is Your Land; Red, White & Rock; and Rhythm, Love & Soul.  AND you can hear them LIVE in Lincoln Hall on Saturday, May 12 at 7:30 PM.  

Give a special gift for Mother’s Day – a musical trip down memory lane!

Tickets are Adults $30, Members $25 and Students $5. This concert will SELL, so be sure to buy online here in advance or reserve at 724-659-3153.  Tickets also will be sold at the door as available, by cash or check only.

Make a day of it in the beautiful Allegheny River Valley! Discover quaint and scenic Foxburg:   tour the Red Brick Gallery exhibit of Photographer Dennis Keyes and Coiled Basket artist Linda Thompson after a walk along the river,  wine tasting at the Foxburg Wine Cellars, lunch or dinner at The Allegheny Grille, or at Foxburg Pizza, enjoy gourmet coffee and desserts at Divani Chocolatier and Barrista.  And perhaps overnight at the Foxburg Inn or in Emlenton at the Barnard House.  Perhaps start up the river in EMLENTON with afternoon shopping at Amy’s Closet, or biking along the Emlenton river trail, with a pre-concert super at Little It Deli in Emlenton. Photograph by Glenn Thompson Photography, a Red Brick Gallery Cooperative Artist.


PURE GOLD is synonymous with quality. Pure Gold has performed with more than 100 major acts over the life of the group: Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons, the Four Tops, Temptations, Beach Boys, Franki Valli, Dionne Warwick and Little Anthony and the Imperials among them. They have performed for 30 million on PBS; 100,000 roared as they took the stage with Chuck Berry at a July 4th celebration in Pittsburgh; fans cheered as they sang the National Anthem at the AFC Championship game and provided pre-game entertainment for hockey’s 41st All Star Game and their performance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was met with overwhelming success.

Pure Gold has kept close company with some of music’s biggest legends like Chuck Berry, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, The Four Tops and The Isley Brothers. Thirty million viewers hung on every note as this eight-piece vocal/instrumental group provided accompaniment for the nationally televised PBS specials Doo Wop 50, Doo Wop 51 and Rock, Rhythm & Doo Wop. As the first non-inductees to play at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Pure Gold’s overwhelming success prompted an invitation to return as the first group to perform there on New Year’s Eve.

The highly-polished band orchestrates the perfect mood with music, adding ambiance and excitement to any affair. Pure Gold has performed at countless engagements from corporate events to wedding receptions, birthday parties to anniversary celebrations. Pure Gold has been afforded the opportunity to play for The National Football League (NFL), The National Hockey League (NHL), Heinz USA, and the Young Presidents Organization.

With signature acappella vocals and four-part harmonies, Pure Gold delivers diverse sounds and musical styles with a stage presence that transcends audience ages and backgrounds. Bringing the golden age of American vocal harmony to performances from Radio City Music Hall to The Waldorf Astoria and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Pure Gold doo-wops their way through the decades, performing material from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, as well as a blend of blues, standards and original material to highlight their unique talents and range.

Celebrate Mother’s Day weekend with your sweetheart – and enjoy a nostalgic trip down memory lane, experience PURE GOLD – the musical best of America’s Doo Wop generation – right here in Lincoln Hall, Foxburg!


Bernie CunninghamLead Singer & Guitarist
Bob ArtisMandolinist
Karen ArtisString Bassist
Radford VanceBanjo Player
Michele Birkby-VanceFiddler

Come on out and hear the NEW SOUND of audience favorite, the Allegheny Drifters. Yes, it’s a Bluegrass Jamboree in Foxburg – Back by popular demand –  Bob and Karen Artis and Berne Cunningham, and BETTER THAN EVER with their new banjo player and fiddler – Radford Vance and Michele Birkby-Vance who rocked Lincoln Hall last year with fancy fiddling and banjo strumming.

Gather by the river as ARCA brings to the beautiful Allegheny River Valley the uplifting and energetic bluegrass of the Allegheny Drifters in concert in Lincoln Hall on Saturday, July 28 at 7:30 PM!  It’s musical fun for the whole family that will remind you what country living is all about.  The stunning vocal harmony, blazing instrumentals and soulful singing and good old-fashioned bluegrass energy of western Pennsylvania’s finest blue grass ensemble will set your down-home toes a tapping!

Take a break from the summer heat in Lincoln Hall’s air conditioned comfort and have a country-good time enjoying Bluegrass at its Best.  From the western foothills of the Alleghenies, Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Drifters have presented their exciting style of bluegrass to audiences across the country for more than a decade. Their engaging, fast-paced show with bluegrass instrumental fireworks and heartfelt vocals appeals to all ages, as seen in this performance at the Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh in June of 2014.

Bring ALL the generations of your family and your friends.  Tickets are $15 for Adults and $5 for students.  Children under 6 Free.  Beer and Wine available by donation,

About the Allegheny Drifters

Allegheny Drifters Banner

Internationally acclaimed Bluegrass recording artists, The Allegheny Drifters have earned a reputation with their superb song selection and good old-fashioned blue grass energy and drive – and are audience favorites right here in western Pennsylvania.

Bob Artis and Bernie Cunningham’s natural duet blend echoes the sound and feeling of the golden age of bluegrass. When joined by the high harmony of bassist Karen Artis, this band presents a warm, authentic sound that touches the heart. Add Bob’s soulful mandolin and the exciting banjo and fiddle work of Radford Vance and Michele Birkby-Vance and you have an unbeatable bluegrass sound straight from the heart of the old Alleghenies.

Enjoy the “new fiddler” and banjo player additions to the group in this performance from the 2017 Pittsburgh Three Rivers Arts Festival.

In response to their CD, Can’t Wait, Canadian disc jockey Howard Bonner wrote, this is “a regional group who belongs on the national scene … a smooth but steadfast adherence to bluegrass music. Great CD release!”

The Allegheny Drifters are known and loved for their… “Tremendous talent and deep respect for the soul of the music they perform.”  Make a night of it –  Join the toe-tapping fun on Saturday, July 29 and experience their soulful music making in Lincoln Hall at 7:30 PM – and Bring the whole family.

About the Musicians

bernie-bioLead singer & guitarist Bernie Cunningham has one of the finest voices in traditional bluegrass today.  A born bluegrass singer, Bernie is the product of a West Virginia coal mining family, raised on traditional music. He and Bob have performed together for over 30 years. Bernie’s talents are in high demand; he’s recorded with several regional bands, released a solo CD and is a gifted and versatile multi-instrumentalist. The Allegheny Drifters is the first band in which he takes center stage as lead singer and guitarist. Bernie makes his home in rural Fombell, Pennsylvania.

bob-bioMandolinist Bob Artis is a veteran of the western Pennsylvania bluegrass scene. Playing professionally since the early 1960s, he began a tenure with Mac Martin and the Dixie Travelers in 1968, recording nearly 80 songs for the Rural Rhythm and County labels. Bob’s deep feeling for the music is reflected in his book Bluegrass, the first-ever history of the music, and in his classic modern song, “Blue Ridge”. He’s appeared on PBS’s “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and over his long career, has played or recorded with bluegrass legends Red Allen, Hylo Brown, Clyde Moody and Larry Sparks.

karen-bioBassist Karen Artis drives the beat with her rock solid rhythm on the upright bass and is an excellent singer whose high harmonies add warmth and depth to the band’s vocals. Also a talented songwriter, she contributed the title song for the “Climb Heaven’s Ladder” CD project. An award-winning designer, she handles all the graphics for the band. Karen’s outgoing personality and enthusiasm both on and off stage continue to win new friends and fans for the Allegheny Drifters. A native Pittsburgher, she and husband Bob live in suburban Forest Hills.

Banjo player Radford Vance
has been playing the banjo since he was 8 years old. Born in Richlands, Virginia, bluegrass was in his blood. Since age 12, he’s spent his years traveling the country playing the music that he loves, and has had the privilege of sharing the stage with many of the musicians who forged the path of bluegrass music, including Carl Story, Hylo Brown and Lawrence Lane. He formed his own band, Tradin’ Post, based in Mansfield, Ohio during the 1980s, and added his banjo expertise to the Ohio-based band Northwest Territory for 20 years. Radford brings his experience, vocals and banjo style to the Allegheny Drifters. From straight-up banjo rolls to melodic pickin’ he adds drive and feeling to the band’s sound.

Fiddler Michele Birkby-Vance  If you’ve gotta have a fiddle in the band, Michele Birkby-Vance will delight you with her talent and enthusiasm. From a family of Grantsville, Maryland fiddlers, at age 10 she learned to play from her Dad, and went on to become a five-state fiddle champion. Along with husband, Radford Vance, she played bluegrass with Northwest Territory for 21 years. She also played fiddle on the very first IBMA award-winning “Daughters of Bluegrass” recording, and toured for 2 years with the New Coon Creek Girls. Always smiling, Michele brings a fifth vocal harmony to the band, and adds smooth backup and superb fiddling. She and Radford now reside in Garrett County Maryland.

History of the Allegheny Drifters

In 2002, veteran western Pennsylvania bluegrass mandolinist Bob Artis was invited to put together a one-show-only bluegrass band to perform with the Pittsburgh Mandolin Orchestra at their debut concert to be held in April 2003. Bob’s wife Karen Artis was the obvious choice to play bass, and friend and former bandmate Bernie Cunningham was called in to sing and play guitar. With the addition of Alabama transplant Jake Abrams on banjo, the Allegheny Drifters were born and were an instant hit.

At the time, Jake and his wife Lisa were busy with their own band, but Jake continued to help out on banjo when he could. In 2005, Keith Beaver, banjo picker from Leetonia Ohio was invited to join the band, and remained a popular member for nearly a decade until his departure at the end of 2013. Young med school student and Banjo player Gregg Welty joined the band in 2014, leaving in the summer of 2015 to resume his medical career.  He was replaced by the talented multi-instrumentalist, Jim Scott, in 2015, and in 2016 banjo player and fiddler – Radford Vance and Michele Birkby-Vance –  joined the Allegheny Drifters.

Hallmarks of the Allegheny Drifters are their stunning vocal harmony and their total commitment to professionalism. Through their many years of performing they’ve learned what audiences enjoy seeing and hearing, and work hard to please and entertain. They are a traditional bluegrass band without being overly bound to convention or restrained by the past. Bob, Bernie and Karen, all talented songwriters, add fresh material to the band’s catalog and continue to seek new ways of reaching out to audiences with their heartfelt message of real bluegrass.

The Allegheny Drifters released their first CD, Out of the Woods, in the spring of 2006. It was produced by David Mayfield and included guest fiddler Jeremy Abshire, who later went on to play with the Grascals. The project received great reviews – County Sales said “good songs, good singing, excellent listening” while Bluegrass Unlimited described it as “refined and well produced… traditional in the best possible way”.

In 2008, the band released Can’t Wait, featuring the outstanding fiddling of internationally acclaimed Michael Cleveland. WYEP’s Bruce Mountjoy referred to the material as “great original additions to the bluegrass songbook…tasteful arrangements that make each song come alive”. With a nod to Bob’s catchy title tune, Bluegrass Music Profiles enthusiastically declared, “Can’t Wait? Don’t wait! Get it!”

Their latest project, an all gospel CD, Climb Heaven’s Ladder finally debuted in 2014, delayed by a series of family losses and band members’ health issues. The titel cut was penned by Karen, and once again guest Michael Cleveland provided his blazing fiddle. All three projects have been well-received by national and international audiences worldwide via broadcast radio and streaming audio.

Over the past decade, the Allegheny Drifters have earned a solid reputation as one of their region’s most popular and hard-working bluegrass bands, performing at festivals, county fairs, corporate events, community day celebrations, universities, weddings, arts and crafts fairs, churches, rural grange halls and urban summer concerts.

Exciting to hear…fun to watch…the Allegheny Drifters enjoy what they do, and that joy is shared by their audiences and growing number of followers and fans.


Dane Vannattervocalist
Clifford Barnespiano
Tony DePaolisbass
James Mooretrumpet
Dane Vannatter

Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts will welcome back by popular demand nationally acclaimed vocalist and recording artist, Dane Vannatter, on Saturday evening June 16 at 7:30 PM.  Foxburg’s Lincoln Hall will be aglow with candlelight and nightclub cabaret table-style seating, a perfect setting for a relaxing, romantic night out, enjoying this masterful entertainer and cabaret artist and his jazz trio of consummate musicians on Father’s Day weekend!

Performing songs “From Broadway to Motown” as well as from his celebrated fourth CD – Give Me Something Real – you won’t want to miss his inimitable style of intimate cabaret singing. “His voice has a floating quality that gets in your head and won’t leave…his music is a swinging, soaring adventure!” The Boston Globe

And be sure to wear your dancing shoes so you can take a spin with your sweetheart at the back of the hall.  Wine and beer will be available by donation.

In his last visit to Foxburg Dane left the audience begging for more of his unique vocal artistry and sensitive interpretations of the classic American songbook. Dane’s singing runs the gamut of emotions, as he performs heartfelt passionate, humorous, joyous and touching songs that span seven decades.   Once again, an outstanding trio of jazz artists will provide the background over which Dane will display his vocal palette of emotional colors.

dane vannatter trio 2014

Daniel May, Dane Vannatter, Tony DePaolis, Mike Tomaro

The jazz trio backing Dane is composed of nationally-known jazz artists whose careers go beyond live performance into the areas of composition, movie scores, touring, recording and education. Joining Dane in creating musical magic in the intimacy of a Lincoln Hall’s acoustic and cabaret environment will be Clifford Barnes (piano), Tony DePaolis (bass) and James Moore (trumpet).

Enjoy a romantic night out enjoying smooth and grooving jazz in a candlelit night club style setting. With table seating for the cabaret, seating is limited, so be sure to reserve your tickets or your table early!

Adults: $25, ARCA Members $20, Students $5 Beer and Wine by donation.
To reserve tickets: 724-659-3153  or buy online here.

Dane Vannatter in Lincoln Hall

Dane Vannatter

Dane Vannatter

“Vannatter is one of the most jazz-savvy cabaret singers around”.  Boston Globe

Acclaimed by Carol Sloane of Concord Records as ‘my favorite among the new young male singers’, Dane Vannatter has been celebrated for his naturally beautiful voice and tasty jazz style.  Montreal’s George Evans said, “Dane Vannatter makes it sound so easy – his style is so natural and his sound so free that one could get the mistaken impression that singing isn’t work to him at all, but as simple as breathing and just as organic.”

Dane Vannatter hails from Muncie, Indiana where his grandparents were Church of God ministers who traveled the country playing and singing for death row prisoners. He attributes his love of music to his grandmother, who lovingly taught him to play the piano and introduced him to the wonderful complexities of harmony. Equally influential in Dane’s early musical experience was his father’s love of jazz and masters of the song, such as Kay Starr and Billie Holiday. His father’s extensive and varied album collection provided the vehicle through which the young Dane began to learn and experience the art of interpreting song. Whether they use their talents in the popular or classical music genres, most singers begin to reach a vocal maturity in their late 20’s or early 30’s. It was at this age that Dane began to approach singing very seriously as a result of an invitation to participate in a contest in Boston.

Currently living in Pittsburgh, Dane has received Bistro awards for Outstanding Vocalist and for his recording, Flight, by the critics of BackStage in New York. He has been acclaimed by reviewers at The New York Post, The Boston Globe and BackStage for a style that “blends facets of cabaret and jazz with intelligence and care”.

The Boston Globe remarks: “Dane Vannatter’s distinctive style leaves an imprint on whatever music he sings. His voice has a floating quality that gets in your head and won’t leave…his music is a swinging, soaring adventure!” He has been nominated for four MAC awards and has been a Nightlife Award finalist.

Patti LaBelle and Dane Vannatter

Patti LaBelle and Dane Vannatter

Dane has performed for several years at the annual Mabel Mercer Cabaret Convention at Town Hall in New York City and performed in venues nationally and internationally. In Pittsburgh, Dane has performed for the First Fridays at the Frick series and sings regularly at the Fairmont Hotel’s Jazz at Andy’s and James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy.

On July 31, 2015 Dane was called to the stage by Patti LaBelle during her concert in Columbus, Ohio. After hearing Dane sing and inviting him to duet on her classic “Lady Marmalade” Patti exclaimed “You better sing, fool. My God!.”

Dane is a gentleman with a particular passion for lending his considerable talents in support of such noble causes as pancreatic cancer research and the Adagio Health Organization, which serves more than 100,000 Western Pennsylvanians regardless of income or insurance.


The review of Dane Vannatter’s fourth CD Give Me Something Real in Cabaret Scenes:

Dane Vannatter imageJanuary 31, 2016
Reviewed by John Hoglund for Cabaret Scenes

Many have asked, “Where are the torchbearers for the Great American Songbook today?” There are wannabes floating around who have gotten serious star attention that’s arguably not warranted (like Michael Bublé or Diana Krall who are not quite the real deal or bore), but have been lucky enough to be churned out like butter and packaged well. But, today’s cabarets and jazz clubs have some great singers who deserve a shot. Welcome Dane Vannatter, who has been kicking around Boston, New York and, more recently, Pittsburgh clubs for almost two decades and has built a loyal following. He’s someone the Concord or Telarc labels might consider, especially since there is a paucity of good jazz vocalists on the market today.

While there’s no magic formula to being a great singer, some just have what it takes. Vannatter fits that bill. Whenever this jazz/swing singer hits the stage, he is known for putting his best foot forward. He never disappoints. His fourth CD, Give Me Something Real, is no exception. His rangy jazz tenor caresses songs with ease. Insightful phrasing matches the quality of his full-voiced vocals, which remain flawless.

Unlike his previous three albums, this particular disc has a more personal touch as he blends etched-in-wood classics with contemporary story songs that soar. This is obvious on beautifully realized cuts like “But Beautiful” (Johnny Burke/Jimmy Van Heusen), “Blame It on My Youth” (Edward Heyman/Oscar Levant) and the album’s title cut from 1998 by Clark Anderson and Meryn Warren which stands out for its heartfelt clarity. These are sung with an intelligence and bright musicality that excels with every note. A lot of heart went into recording these gems. Kicking off with a strong bass line, the frolicsome “I Love My Bed” (Bob Haymes) is a refreshing lighthearted romp that’s given a terrific arrangement. He digs deep while retaining a strong drive on the Billy Strayhorn beauty “Something to Live For.” Such versatility only adds to the surprises on this disc that mixes the old and new. One of the CD’s most intense and trenchant cuts fuses the Coldplay hit “Fix You” (Chris Martin/Jonny Buckland/Guy Berryman/Will Chapman) with Leonard Cohen’s legendary “Hallelujah.” Joining these unique songs of shattered love and sadness is inspired, making for the album’s finest cut. They unfold a tale of wrenching drama and heartbreak in a stunning arrangement that is about riveting as it gets. Vannatter shows his level of interpretive gifts with these two formidable songs. The burnished bruise in his expressive, softer moments underscores a natural vibrato that is heartbreaking. This pairing is worth the price of the album alone, which is a hands-down winner by a singer who deserves more exposure and recognition.

The exceptional band is led by Fred Boyle (piano), with Ron Ormsby (bass), Bart Weisman (drums), Steve Ahern (trumpet), Bruce Abbott (sax/flute), Jon Evans (bass), Eric Susoeff (guitar) and Daniel May (keyboard).


Shane AlexanderSinger, Songwriter & Guitarist

Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts is proud to present  Smalltown in our Bloodstreams – an evening with Shane Alexander on Saturday, April 28, 7:30 PM in Lincoln Hall, Foxburg.  Join us for a captivating evening of story and song with internationally renown singer/songwriter/guitarist Shane Alexander.  In a club-like environment right in Lincoln Hall, Shane will performs songs from all of his albums, some of his favorite covers, and debuting new material to be released later this year!

A native of nearby Butler, Pennsylviania, Shane now resides with his family in Southern California. Since his debut in 2005, he’s toured the US and Europe countless times – both as a headliner and as an opener for tours with Jewel, John Hiatt, Seal, Bon Iver, Suzanne Vega, Styx and Yes. Songs from his catalog have been featured in over 100 televsion shows and films. ‘Skyway Drive-In’, a song written about growing up in Butler, recently passed 14 million streams on Spotify.

Well beloved in and around his home town of Butler, world renowned Shane Alexander will bring his heart-opening, touching and evocative acoustic music to Lincoln Hall’s intimate acoustics for an evening of music making that will rock your soul and renew your spirit.

ARRIVE for the opening reception of the Exhibit of Photography by Butler-based Dennis Keyes and Hand made coiled baskets by Linda Thompson at the Red Brick Gallery from 5:00 – 7:00 PM on Saturday, April 28 – immediately before Shane Alexander’s concert.  Bring your friends – make new friends – and enjoy an evening in Foxburg you’ll long remember.  

Tickets are Adults $25, Students $5.  Call to reserve – 724-659-3153 – or buy online here.   Wine and Beer will be available by donation.

Shane Alexander

‘Music for the heart and soul – premier songwriting and pristine delivery, a winner in every respect. Essential’ – Power of Pop

‘One of the most beautiful albums of the year’ – WoNo Magazine ‘

‘Alexander’s sweet tenor, acoustic guitar work, and catchy well-hooked songs flow seamlessly into one another’ – The Morton Report

Since his debut The Middle Way in 2005, Shane Alexander has forged a singular style blending west coast folk, rock and psychedelia into a successful sound that has appeared in over 100 television shows and films.

Touring the US and 11 other countries both as a headliner, and supporting acts like Bon Iver, Jewel, John Hiatt, Suzanne Vega, Seal, Styx and Yes, the fiercely independent artist has developed a loyal international fanbase, further enhanced in recent months when ‘Skyway Drive-In’, a solo acoustic track from the album Ladera, crossed over 14 million streams on Spotify.

The new album – Alexander’s first self production, was the first record made at his new Buddhaland Studios facility in Southern California. Bliss is a timeless tribute to the artist’s classic rock influences, featuring Alexander’s crystalline tenor and deft acoustic guitar work at the heart of all the tracks.

For all of the heartache and lessons learned on the album, the closing title track leaves the listener on a sublime note of peace and forgiveness, one that is mirrored in the cover image, hand-drawn by veteran rock and roll artist Alan Forbes.

Since the release of Bliss, and tours in The United States and Europe, Shane produced Shelby Figueroa’s debut Highwire (which reached NUMBER ONE on Amazon’s Singer/Songwriter chart) and Sallstrom’s EP Strangers Like Us  – to be released in late spring.

Ken DoubleTheatre Organist

On Sunday, April 22nd at 2:00 PM, Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts welcomes back to the Lincoln Hall McKissick Mighty Wurlitzer one of the preeminent theatre organists and recording artists of the day – KEN DOUBLE. This internationally acclaimed, world traveled organist will perform a program of diverse theatre organ favorites from his ten CDs.  Theatre organ mavens will be spell bound by his dazzling arrangements that will show the McKissick Mighty Wurlitzer and its percussion instrument “toy shelf” to their full glory!

Tickets are Adults $25, Members $20 an Students $5.  at 2:00 PM in Lincoln Hall.  After the concert, ARCA $100 and above donors are invited to attend a reception at RiverStone Mansion.

During his concert career, Ken Double has performed all over the United States in addition to seven tours of Australia and New Zealand and two trips to Great Britain, including stops in Seattle, WA; Wilmington, DE; Tampa, FL; Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; the famous Casa Loma in Toronto. In addition to his hundreds of concerts, he has ten CD’s to his credit, including  The Music of Casa Loma, the first-ever recording on the Mighty Wurlitzer in the Great Hall of Toronto’s historic castle.  He also shares the great privilege of being one of the two organists who perform at the Atlanta Fox Theatre on famed Mighty Mo, the great Moller organ in Atlanta.   Ken is thrilled with the opportunity to return to scenic Foxburg, PA for another visit with the Mighty Wurlitzer.

Ken Double and Skip Stine at the University of Oklahoma, Sharp Hall

ARCA’s McKissick Mighty Wurlitzer Organ

McKissick Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ –

ARCA’s Wurlitzer contains seventeen ranks of pipes and is characterized by a balanced blend of unmistakeable Wurlitzer ‘sounds”.  Built in 1928 at the Wurlitzer Organ factory in North Tonawanda outside of Buffalo and numbered OPUS 1989, the organ originally was installed in Cleveland’s Uptown Theatre.  It was played for several years accompanying silent movies.  With the end of the silent film era it was subsequently purchased by Richard Wheeler, a Cleveland organist, and remained in his home until Wheeler passed.  Paul McKissick purchased it from the Haynes Company in North Canton, Ohio, where it had been in storage.

Named for Paul McKissick, who lovingly and painstakingly rebuilt the instrument over eleven years, in 1999 the restored Wulrtlizer was installed in McKissick’s garage at their home in Lake Latonka near Mercer, PA.  The organ became known as the Latona Pipes, and was played in annual benefits concerts to raise money for the DeBence Museum in Franklin.  Dr. Arthur and Patricia Steffee attended one of the concerts.  When Paul decided to downsize and was seeking a place for the Wurtlizer for the next generation, Dr. Arthur and Patricia Steffee, ARCA’s founders, purchased it to enhance the newly restored Lincoln Hall, on the second floor of the Foxburg Free Library.

Its seventeen ranks of pipes translate to 60 notes per voice or rank, more than 1200 pipes and 6,000 moving parts to make the Wurlitzer sound.  Only the relay and computer are not authentic or vintage parts on the organ.  The installation included one of Wurlitzer’s most unique features, the decorative ‘Toy Shelf’ of miniature instruments, which are displayed in a rear balcony in Lincoln Hall and are all powered by the organ. The marimba was added and all the associated drums, cymbals, bells and automatic piano produce a balanced blend of unmistakable Mighty Wurlitzer sounds.

ARCA audiences have enjoyed ten years of glorious music making on the McKissick Mighty Wurlitzer by some of the worlds greatest theatre organists – including David Wickerham, Martin Ellis, Walt Strony, Scott Foppiano, Donna Parker, Jelani Eddington and Ken Double.  Jason Wiles is ARCA’s organ technician, maintaining and tuning the organ for each concert.

In 2012, the McKissick Mighty Wurlitzer Legacy Fund was established in honor of Paul and Sally McKissick, to maintain the organ and insure the future of this extraordinary instrument for future audiences.  Anyone wishing to contribute to this fund may do so by contacting ARCA at

See more on the Paul McKissick Story and the McKissick Mighty Wurlitzer organ.

About the Artist

Ken Double has smoothly moved from two performing careers in his nearly 40-years on stage, on radio and on television. His broadcasting career included play-by-play work for the NBA Indiana Pacers, Purdue basketball, the Indy 500 and 17 years of NHL, IHL and AHL hockey.   After 33 years in broadcasting, he put the organ lessons of his youth along with his “gift of gab” to work in a new career.

A Chicago native who now calls Atlanta home, Ken began organ lessons at age 8; while in college in Indianapolis played the organ at Tommy Bartlett’s Water Show in Wisconsin Dells; for sporting events at Market Square Arena; has performed hundreds of concerts all over the world; and has 18 recordings to his credit, including his latest, Let’s Play Two, which features two private installations in North San Diego County, CA.

Ken takes pride in having performed the Grand Opening concerts on the restored theatre organs at the Long Center in Lafayette, IN; the Wurlitzer at Manual High School Indianapolis; the Page pipe organ at the Anderson, IN Paramount Theatre; and at the Indianapolis Warren Performing Arts Center Barton organ, all where for many years, Ken called home.

Ken has performed all over the country in addition to his seven tours of Australia and New Zealand, and two trips to Great Britain.

He operates Ken Double Entertainment; is the current president of the ATOS chapter in Atlanta; is President of the Long Center Theatre Organ Society in Lafayette, IN; and after leaving ATOS’ top post, he is now assisting the effort to restore the mammoth Midmer-Losh organ, “The largest musical instrument in the world,” at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City as the chief fund-raiser for the Historic Organ Restoration Committee.

He also shares the great privilege of being one of the two organists who perform at the Atlanta Fox Theatre on famed Mighty Mo, the great Moller organ in Atlanta.

Ken is thrilled with the opportunity to return to scenic Foxburg, PA for another visit with the Mighty Wurlitzer.

Sportscaster, musician, promoter, executive – Ken has worn many hats in his professional career with an aim at having fun and getting paid for it! Or, as the song goes, “Nice work if you can get it.”

Jin YangPipa
Mimi JongErhu
Mimi JongErhu
Jeff BermanDulcimer
Susan PowersBanjo and Vocal
James FerlaGuitar
John MarcinizynGuitar
Daphne AldersonContralto

From ancient to modern and criss-crossing the globe, the stirring heart sounds of string instruments spanning four millennia will fill Lincoln Hall on Sunday, April 8 in HeartStrings: East Meets West, as the Appalasia, String Bouquet and the Ferla-Marcinizyn Guitar Duo with contralto Daphne Alderson sound the music of our souls!

  • “What makes us feel drawn to music is that our whole being is music: our mind and body, the nature in which we live, the nature which has made us, all that is beneath and around us, it is all music.”   Hazrat Inyat Khan (Sufi Master) (1882-1927)

Luxuriate in an afternoon of glorious string music from ancient China to the Appalachian hillsides and from the classical courts of Europe to the recording studios of the twentieth century, as erhu and pipa join banjo and dulcimer and two guitars become a band and vocalists soar – all playing the strings of our hearts… a joyous cross-cultural musical celebration not to be missed!

Tickets are Adults $25, Members $20 and Students $5.  Call to  at 724-659-3153 or buy online here.

And before the concert, enjoy the opening of the Exhibit of Student Artists from the Allegheny-Clarion Valley High School (under the direction of art teacher Anita Allen) at the Red Brick Gallery from 1:00 to 3:00 PM, 17 Main Street, Foxburg.

As individual artists, Jin Yang and Mimi Jong have been dedicated to the study and performance of traditional Chinese music.  Since meeting in 2015, they have embarked on a musical journey together.  From concert halls to libraries, from universities to community centers, from museums to house concerts, String Bouquet is permeating the hearts of their audience.  Their versatile styles include Chinese traditional, global, western classical, jazz, pop and modern music.  Their multi-media projects include collaboration with dance and various performance arts.  String Bouquet continues to explore and expand the possibilities of their creativity, bringing exciting music presentations to their audience.

Yang Jin, pipa

Born in Datong, in northern China’s Shanxi province, Yang Jin began studying pipa at nine.

In 1995 she was admitted to the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and received her BA and MA degrees. Before relocating to the U.S., she served as a pipa instructor at the Wuhan Conservatory of Music in Wuhan, Hubei province, China.

Yang Jin has received many awards, including first prize in the TianHua Cup National Youth Traditional Music Competition in 1997, and the Silver Award of Chinese Golden Bell Award for music.

She has performed in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, France, the United States, Britain, Japan, and the Philippines. In 2010 she was the only mainland Chinese pipaperformer selected (by Wu Man) to participate in a workshop led by the Kronos Quartet and Wu Man at Carnegie Hall.

In October 2016, joined Yo-Yo Ma’s “Silk Road ensemble” together with the famous Mark Morris Dance Group and Well-known mugham singers Alim Qasimov in Great music epic “Layla and Majnun” world tour.

Yang Jin served as Visiting Scholar at Kent State University in 2013-14 lives with her family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she maintains a busy performing and teaching schedule.

Mimi Jong, erhu

Mimi Jong has a diverse musical background acquired from growing up in Indonesia, being educated in Germany, and immigrating to the United States. Since age eleven, she has been performing on the erhu, an ancient, Chinese, two-string, bowed instrument. By moving beyond tradition and embracing the erhu’s versatility, Mimi has performed with jazz, folk and classical musicians, conducted educational workshops, and performed at music festivals.

With the mission of nurturing cross-cultural connections through art, Mimi has co-founded multiple projects. Partnering with artists from China, Mimi was able to introduce traditional Chinese dance and music to schools in the Western Pennsylvania region. Along with Appalasia, she was a featured presenter and performer at the Festival of Woman Composers conference at Indiana University Pennsylvania. Mimi has also been a returning faculty member of Hundington County Art Council’s Folk College. With the group “Silk Sound,” Mimi has collaborated with various jazz musicians and tabla master Samir Chatterjee to develop a new voice from ancient and contemporary Asian melodies. Demonstrating her open mind and musical flexibility, Mimi collaborated with Persian santur master Dr. Dariush Saghafi and tombak master Mahmoud Tehrani, creating hauntingly beautiful music that transcends cultures and genres. Bringing erhu to modern movement, Mimi’s cross-disciplinary involvements include collaboration with the Mary Miller Dance Company and artist Jennifer Myers’  theatrical productions, creating ground-breaking cinematic performances.

Mimi was a recipient of 2014 “Master Artists and Tradition Bearers Award” from Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area. In addition, she serves as the music program director for “Silk Screen Arts and Cultural Organization” and is the board President and founding member of “HarmoniZing,” where her contributions include recruiting renowned artists for local concerts and residencies and providing a platform to encourage diversity in Pittsburgh’s music scene.

Appalasia was formed by Mimi Jong, Jeff Berman, and Sue Powers in Pittsburgh, PA. Together they have created an evocative and ambitious performance language for dulcimer, erhu, banjo, and vocals that combines the influence of their folk-roots with original composition and inspired improvisation.

The individual members of Appalasia each have extensive histories of collaboration, performing, and recording with artists including Andy Statman, Tony Trischka, Pasang Dolma, Alash, Susan Mckeown, Karen Han, Robert Een, Min Xiao Fen, Samir Chatterjee, Linda Thompson, Osei Koranke, Devilish Merry, Arthur Russell and Huang Xiang, to name just a few.

“Appalasia is one of the most innovative and musically exciting groups I have ever heard. The unusual combination of instruments creates such a joyous feeling and combines sophisticated composition with brilliant playing in a way that makes it all seem effortless. Those of us who sat and listened were all literally spell bound. Hearing the banjo played in new ways and the use of the traditional Chinese violin played with stunning virtuosity with Jeff Berman’s dulcimer was just what the world needs to hear This wasn’t cross-over or fusion. This was great music making that needs no label.”                                                David Amram, NERFA 2015

“This trio create, perform, and record music that is unique and beautiful with its evocative eloquence and multitude of sound images …Those of you familiar with the music of West Canadian groups Asza, Orchid Ensemble and Silk Road Music will find themselves in familiar territory because their approach is relatively similar to that of Appalasia in terms of instrumentation and overall sound, though it seems that Appalasia goes further in its melodic search and does not hesitate to give free rein to improvisation and emotional expression… Susan Powers singing often evokes that of the wonderful Gillian Welch … “                              Dan Behrman, Le Magazine Son et Image

Mimi Jong, erhu (see Yang Pipa Erhu Duo above)

“AppalAsia is a fantastic trio hailing from Pittsburgh PA… While CARGO is not a dulcimer album per se, Jeff Berman’s sensitive fingerstyle is evident throughout the recording… Jeff’s dulcimer and Susan’s clawhammer banjo seem to merge as one, and I often had trouble hearing the individual parts; the rhythmic flow and groove is really outstanding. Second, Susan has a voice you won’t forget, at once earthy and bluesy as it is mysterious and haunting. Two of her songs which have these qualities are “Up and Down The River” and “Halloween Waltz”. Third, Mimi’s expert erhu playing adds a wonderful, very expressive dimension to their overall sound, and to my ears, it doesn’t sound as exotic or Eastern as I expected. This is hard to explain, but the trio just sounds totally right- like they have been playing together for centuries. They said at the concert that they all had set out to write music specifically for this unique ensemble, and to me, they have succeeded brilliantly.”           Jerry Rockwell, Dulcimer Players News/ Winter 2016

Jeff Berman, dulcimer

Jeff is a multi-instrumentalist, improvising artist, and composer whose work reflects his global musical vision. A native of New York City who now lives in Pittsburgh, he has developed a genre-extending concept on mountain dulcimer, vibraphone, and percussion, that has allowed him to collaborate across stylistic boundaries with a diverse group of artists from across the globe. Josef Woodward has described his music as “a worldly folk-jazz”, and the Los Angeles Times wrote “Berman bends a chord or strums his Appalachian dulcimer…to stunning effect”.  Jazziz has written “…hypnotic vibes work…Berman not only plays vibes, he sounds like he created the instrument,” and music journalist Bill Milkowski has called Jeff’s writing “…hauntingly beautiful…”

Jeff has performed internationally both as a solo artist and as a member of various ensembles. Some of the artists he has performed, recorded, and toured with include Andy Statman, Tony Trischka, Robert Een, Susan Mckeown, Lindsey Horner, Osei Koranke, Paul Bley, Linda Thompson, and choreographers Yin Mei and Gia Cacalano to name just a few. He has three recordings on the Palmetto Records label featuring his own compositions, and his music has been used for performance, dance, theatre, and film —including the Academy Award nominated documentary In Our Water.

Jeff is rostered with the Pennsylvania State Council on the Arts as a Teaching Artist and has conducted residencies and professional development sessions across the Western Pennsylvania region. These experiences have ranged from creating world rhythm ensembles with elementary school students, Aesthetic Education workshops with middle school students, lecture/demonstrations on cross-cultural collaboration with college students, and workshops in improvisation for arts educators.

Susan Powers, banjo and vocal

Sue Powers grew up outside of Pittsburgh in a family with deep roots in the musical landscape of Western Pennsylvania. She has been singing and playing banjo since high school. Both of her parents were sacred singers, and both her grandfather and her great grandfather were fiddle players who performed for local square dances in the Appalachian “old time” tradition. Powers is a founding member of the group Devlish Merry, where she pioneered the use of the five-string banjo in Celtic music. The group has released three recordings featuring her playing, singing and song writing. Powers has adapted her unique ‘claw hammer’ style to blues, rock and pop music, and is acknowledged as a songwriter whose personal imagery evokes the Pennsylvania landscape. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has written “…the primary element that makes Devilish Merry unusual is the prominent banjo by Ms. Powers… her polyrhythmic…clawhammer style [explores] inside the rhythm… an Afro-blues style applied to Celtic music…”.  The Pittsburgh City Paper has written, “[her songs]… convey a sense of drama… her approach to the banjo – a bluesy variation on claw hammer plucking – makes her an original.”

Her music has been used in modern and traditional dance, performance, theater, and film, including the Smithsonian exhibit “Lewis and Clark: Clash of Empires”, Roger Sayers documentary about “outsider” folk-artist Howard Finster, and Jerry Starr’s stage play “Burried: The of the Sago Mine Disaster.”

Powers has extended her educational outreach to “Beyond Appalachia” – a workshop and
residency/performance experience that highlights the influence of Appalachian music, from it’s roots in the British Isles and Africa to it’s branches in Country, Bluegrass, Blues, Jazz, and Rock music. She conducts lectures and demonstrations in schools and universities on the aesthetics of cross-cultural collaboration and creativity, and she was a featured presenter and performer at the last Festival of Woman’s Composers conference at Indiana University Pennsylvania.

Pittsburgh Concert Society winners, the FERLA-MARCINIZYN GUITAR DUO have been heard frequently in Pittsburgh on concert series presented by Carnegie Mellon University, the INTERNATIONAL POETRY FORUM, and the DEAR FRIENDS Ensemble.

As soloists and ensemble players, Marcinizyn and Ferla have performed throughout the United States including programs at the Smithsonian, the University of Akron, Arizona State, the Chatauqua Institution, Oberlin College, Florida State University, New York University, and Notre Dame. The have been heard on NPR, Voice of America, USIA, Chukyo TV-Nagayo, Japan, and in Pittsburgh, on WQED-FM.

Their repertoire spans five centuries and includes music by traditional and contemporary composers as well as folk, jazz, and popular arrangements. Their four CDs celebrate the diversity of their rich repertoire and collaborations.

Andrew Druckenbrod, of the Post-Gazette, wrote that: “The Ferla-Marcinizyn Guitar Duo provided some education of its own with a survey of the repertoire of the guitar. . . including some animated lute transcriptions in which the duo expertly executed the imitation. . . . A Hindemith Rondo came across lively and punchy, and Brouwer’s variations on Frere Jacques was masterful. The best piece, and performance, of the afternoon was Andrew York’s Evening Dance, which created a fascinating mood using evocative harmonies and nimble runs.”

John Hayes of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that they “compile what is easily the most diverse set list in town.”

The Guitar Duo performs frequently for audiences of all ages in western Pennsylvania at schools, museums, historical societies, clubs, festivals, and on community and church concert series.

James Ferla, guitar

In addition to his concerts with the Ferla-Marcinizyn Guitar Duo, James Ferla, a two-time Pittsburgh Concert Society winner, has also performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Cuarteto Latinoamericano, the Renaissance City Winds, The Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, DEAR FRIENDS Ensemble and Cynthia Koleda DeAlmeida, principal oboe of the Pittsburgh Symphony, tenor Doug Ahlstedt and contralto Daphne Alderson.

James Ferla has given numerous solo and ensemble concerts throughout the United States including programs at the Smithsonian Institution, Arizona State University, Wolf Trap, the Chautauqua Institution, Florida State University, Oberlin College and Notre Dame. He has been heard on NPR, PBS, CBS, Voice of America, USIA, Chukyo TV-Nagayo in Japan, and, in Pittsburgh on WQED-FM. Mr. Ferla has published several articles on guitar repertoire in SoundBoard, the journal of the Guitar Foundation of America, and is heard on seven CDs.

James has published several articles on guitar repertoire in SoundBoard, the journal of the Guitar Foundation of America. With singer/actress Kate Young, James recorded Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Platero y Yo for Voice of America and is heard on the soundtrack of the PBS American Experience film, “Stephen Foster.” He teaches guitar at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. At Carnegie Mellon, Ferla also directs the Carnegie Mellon Guitar Ensemble.

James’ principal teachers were Richard Franklin, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, and Colin Sterne. James has an MFA in performance from Carnegie Mellon University and an MA in Musicology from the University of Pittsburgh.

John Marcinizyn, guitar

Pittsburgh based guitarist, composer, banjoist John Marcinizyn performs frequently as a soloist, with the Ferla-Marcinizyn Guitar Duo, contralto Daphne Alderson, flute and guitar duo, violin and guitar duo, and groups ranging from The Bach Choir of Pittsburgh to Billy Price. He is also a member of Acoustic Swing (jazz trio), and The Red Hot Ramblers (Dixieland jazz). His versatility as an acoustic and electric guitarist allows him to perform in many styles including classical, jazz, flamenco, rock, blues, and folk. John has also performed guitar and banjo for many theater companies including Quantum Theatre, where he wrote and performed a flamenco score for The Red Shoes and a Blues score for El Paso Blue.  His playing can be heard on eight CDs and one DVD.

A favorite of ARCA audiences, John has recently appeared in Foxburg with clarinetist Susanne Ortner both in a cabaret in Lincoln Hall and in the Allegheny-Clarion Valley Schools educational residency, “The Music That Makes Me Dance”, performing for students from grades K to 12.  With his wife, contralto Daphne Alderson, John recently performed in the Valentine’s cabaret, “Return to Love Cafe”, in Lincoln Hall.

John’s original music compositions have received numerous performances and include a guitar concerto, string quartet, orchestral music, music for theater, and pieces for solo guitar and guitar with mixed ensemble, as well as a number of jazz and rock pieces.  His Sonata for Guitar and Marimba received critical acclaim following its premiere at the Guitar Foundation of America International Festival and Competition held in Buffalo.  The Westmoreland Symphonic Winds commissioned Song for the Sparrows, in memory of Beth Ann Johnson and Elyse Jeanne Saraceni who were killed in the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am flight 103.  IonSound Project premiered his And All Manner of Thing Shall Be Well, for Contralto, Cello and Piano, based upon the writings of Julian of Norwich. John wrote and performed the theme music for Excela Health’s (hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and health facilities of Westmoreland County) television, radio and web commercials.

Recently he toured in South America and the Eastern Caribbean with contralto, Daphne Alderson in programs that varied from chamber music through cabaret.

John holds a Ph. D. in music composition and theory from the University of Pittsburgh, and is an Artist-Lecturer in guitar and composition at Carnegie Mellon University and Seton Hill University.  He also teaches a class on slide guitar techniques at the Duquesne University Guitar and Bass Summer Workshop.


Daphne Alderson, contralto

Daphne Alderson ’s diverse career as lyric contralto includes opera, cabaret, oratorio, and chamber music. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette calls her, “An artist of dignified passion,” (Handel’s MESSIAH) and an artist of “Beautifully rendered love songs, (Love Café).”

“Daphne’s voice gives me shivers…she’s really magical, and when she sings in French, you’ll want your sweetheart nearby,” quotes Ted Sohier (WQED fm, Pittsburgh).

Ms. Alderson’s recent return to opera was Mere Jeanne in Pittsburgh Opera’s acclaimed premiere of Poulenc’s DIALOGUES OF THE CARMELITES. Roles with Microscopic Opera followed: Agnes in FANTASTIC MR. FOX and Abby Borden in Thomas Albert’s LIZBETH. Most recently, she debuted the role of Helen Cooper in the World Premiere of Todd Goodman’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (Kelly Strayhorn Theater, Pittsburgh).

Her Madame Armfeldt in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music garnered: “Luscious, dark tones, an accomplished rendering.” (July, 2013, Pittsburgh Tribune Review and City Paper for Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh SummerFest).   Other recent credits include AINADAMAR with Quantum Theatre and Miss Baggott in Benjamin Britten’s THE LITTLE SWEEP.

A Piaf Songbook, her collection of iconic French ballads and folk songs of Leonard Cohen tours 2013-2014, commencing with guitarist John Marcinizyn in Central and South America. The Piaf concerts for the Pittsburgh Symphony’s Paris Festival were hailed…“Not to be missed…” (Mark Kanny, Pittsburgh Tribune Review).

Her Love Café concert series at Heinz Chapel are an annual event in Pittsburgh’s cabaret scene. Daphne is a roster artist at Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour.

Commissioned works include Songs That Oscar Taught Me, (Oscar Hammerstein), All Heart, All Judy, with Douglas Levine, musical director.

Her cabaret debut, An American in Paris, World War II toured the MidAtlantic Region.

Recent projects include appearances at the Club Café, Whittaker Center for the Performing Arts in Harrisburg, opera outreach educational tours with the Pittsburgh Opera, Bricolage Theatre, IonSound Project and Chamber music at Chatham College with members of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Her repertoire includes Bach, Vivaldi, the chamber works of Schumann, Brahms and Mahler, Handel’s MESSIAH, Mendelssohn’s ELIJAH, Pergolesi’s /Vivaldi’s STABAT MATER, Chamber Music at the Frick Museum with Steinway artist Yeeha Chiu and cellist Elisa Kohanski.

Daphne Alderson is an Associate Professor of Voice and Opera Workshop at Seton Hill University. She resides in Pittsburgh with husband, guitarist and composer John Marcinizyn and their beloved pets, T-Bone and Viola.



Brian LowryKeyboards, Accordion, Hammered Dulcimer
Kelly LowryVocals & Percussion
Caitlin Lowry ShegogVocals & Bodhran
Benjamin LowryBass, 6-String Guitar, Vocals
Joshua LowryFiddle, Mandolin, Banjo, Vocals
Roy AbbottFlute & Vocals
Daryl HartmanVocals, 12-String Guitar, Mandolin
Jonathan ShegogHighland pipes, small pipes, Vocals

Returning by popular demand, the superb Irish Band CARNIVAL OF SOULS will sound the call for the Irish on Friday night, March 16, 2016 at 7:30 PM at Lincoln Hall in Foxburg. 

Begin your St. Patrick’s Day Celebration with this joyous evening of superb Irish and Celtic Music with the very talented Lowry Family and Friends. Leprechaun magic will abound with the call of the highland bagpipes and all those lucky enough to be Irish – and all those hopefuls who wish they were Irish  – will tap their toes and kick up their heels celebrating St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Foxburg.

Led by Brian and Kelly Lowry the band features highland pipes, bodhrán drum, 12 string and bass guitar, mandolin, fiddle, accordion, and keyboard along with high spirited vocals.   Listen to their music from their CD No Scone Unburned – Forty-two Pound Checque/Wind that shakes the Barley on their website, Carnival of Souls.    More samples of No Scone Unburned  and their second CD, SconeHenge,  is available through their website and CD Baby.  CDs will be available for sale at the concert.

Tickets are $15 for Adults and $5 for students.  To reserve, call 724 659-3153 or you  can buy tickets online on this page.

CARNIVAL OF SOULS has been performing traditional and original Celtic music in Western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and West Virginia for nearly twenty years. The group uses a wide variety of traditional and non-traditional instruments to produce a rich range of music that would be at home in a pub in Dublin or a coffee shop in Shadyside.

Their first CD, “No Scone Unburned” was released in 1999 and has been acclaimed by Dirty Linen, the international magazine of folk music, and is in the Irish music archives in Dublin. They can be heard at a variety of venues in the tri-state area.

The band includes talented members of the extended Lowry family.  The band members are:

Roy Abbott – flute

Daryl Hartman – vocals, 12-string guitar, mandolin

Brian Lowry – keyboards, accordion, tin whistle, hammered dulcimer

Kelly Lowry – vocals, percussion

Jonathan Shegog – Highland pipes, small pipes

Caitlin Lowry – vocals, bodhran, keyboard

Benjamin Lowry – bass, six-string guitar, vocals

Joshua Lowry – fiddle, mandolin, banjo, vocals



And our heartfelt thanks to all of you for your generous financial support and concert attendance in 2017.

During the 2017 season of the Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts began its second decade of concerts and art exhibits – only possible because of YOU, our devoted audience members and donors.

The 2017 season was a banner year with more people than ever before attending concerts and viewing Red Brick Gallery Exhibits and with record funds raised from new and loyal donors and members.

The Board of Directors of Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts and The Red Brick Gallery Cooperative Artists extend their warmest thanks to you – our treasured donors and audience members – for your generous support of our vision to bring world class music and art to the beautiful Allegheny River valley.

We hope you had a joyous and blessed holiday season with your family and beloveds and that yours will be a healthy, fulfilling and Happy New Year.

 ARCA Concerts and Exhibits in 2018

ARCA’s 2018 season promises to bring more world class music and inspiring art to the beautiful Allegheny Valley.


The Winter season opens on Sunday, March 4 at 2 PM in Lincoln Hall with the Academy Chamber Ensemble with the Slippery Rock Chamber Singers performing the Schubert Mass in G and Croatian Folk Songs, and for string quintet Croatian Dances and works by Michael Haydn and Ignaz Pleyel.

On March 14,  ARCA continues its commitment to arts education bringing Beo String Quartet teaching artists to conduct a residency in the Allegheny-Clarion Valley Schools for students from K to 12 on “Finding the Melody”, with listening/perception engagement.

ARCA favorites Carnival of Souls will return on Friday, March 16 at 7:30 in Lincoln Hall for their joyous musical celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.


Friday to Sunday, April 6 – 15   Allegheny-Clarion Valley High School student art exhibit at the Red Brick Gallery

Sunday April 8, 2018   3 PM     HeartStrings:  East Meets West – with erhu and pipa musicians Mimi Jong and Yang Jin, fusion artists/vocalists in AppalAsia and the John Marcinizyn/Jim Ferla Guitar Duo with Daphne Alderson, contralto.  RBG opening student art exhibit reception from 1:30 to 3 PM.

Friday to Sunday, April 20 – May 27     ART EXHIBIT:  Dennis Keyes, Photographer, & Linda Thompson, Hand Coiled Baskets – Red Brick Gallery

Sunday, April 22, 2018  2 PM    Wurlitzer theatre organist KEN DOUBLE   Post concert wine and cheese reception at RiverStone Mansion for $100 and above ARCA Donors.

Saturday, April 28, 2018  7:30 PM   “Smalltown in our Bloodstreams”:  Shane Alexander, internationally renowned recording artist/singer/songwriter/guitarist.  RBG Opening Reception for Dennis Keyes and Linda Thompson’s exhibit from 5 – 7 PM.

Saturday, May 12  7:30 PM  International PBS television stars PURE GOLD –  celebrating their 40th season – perform “Spring Doo Wop“- just a month after their performance on PBS of “Doo Wop and the Next Generation”;

Friday to Sunday, June 1 to July 8   “The Making of a Book” Exhibit of art by James Stewart, hand tied books by Susan Frakes and poetry by Philip Terman with RBG Cooperative Artist Mark DeWalt 

 Saturday, June 16   7:30 PM  Audience favorite, recording artist Dane Vannatter returns for a night of sizzling cabaret in Lincoln Hall.

Friday to Sunday, July 13 to August 19   RBG Exhibit of Cheri Lee Anderton-Yarnell, Potter, and Jason Floyd Lewis, Painter

Sunday, July 15  2 PM  Keyboard artist Frederick Moyer on Sunday, July 15, playing both classical and jazz in a dazzling concert ending with transcriptions of the amazing jazz artist Oscar Peterson.  Post Concert opening reception of Anderton-Yarnell/Lewis exhibit in the Red Brick Gallery.

Saturday, July 28  7:30 PM   Back by popular demand – audience favorites, The Allegheny Drifters, give us a down home,  how down night in Lincoln Hall!


Check back soon for our detailed event listing for the Spring Concert Season and information about more Red Brick Gallery exhibits during the 2018 season.

ARCA’s new membership brochure also will be online soon.  You can sign up to receive newsletters and and information about ARCA’s new 2018 season and membership events on this site.

Heartiest wishes for a wonderful 2018 – joining us for Glorious Music and Art in the Beautiful Allegheny River Valley!




Billy PriceVocals
Steve Delach Guitar
Tom ValentineBass
Dave DoddDrummer
Jimmy BrittonKeyboards
Eric DeFadeSaxophone
SOULFUL FEMMEStevee Wellons & Cheryl Rinovato

 If you love rock ‘n’ roll and the blues, whatever you plan to do in the greater Allegheny River Valley Region this fall – DO NOT MISS the SOULFUL, WAILING CONCERT of world class RHYTHM & BLUES with the BILLY PRICE BAND opened by SOULFUL FEMME with Stevee Wellons and Cheryl Rinovato on Saturday, November 4 at 7 PM in Emlenton’s Crawford Center, 511 Hill Street.  You can get down and dance the night away, with lots of room in front of the band in the Crawford Center.

Soulful Femme
opens the concert from 7 – 8:00 PM and the Billy Price Band performs from 8:30 to 10:00 PM.  Tickets are Adults $20 and Students $5. This concert will SELL, so be sure to buy online here in advance or reserve at 724-659-3153.  Tickets also will be sold at the door as available, by cash or check only.

Make a day of it in the beautiful Allegheny River Valley! Discover quaint and scenic Foxburg and Emlenton, PA. In FOXBURG, tour the Red Brick Gallery exhibit of Pittsburgh plein air pastel artist Diane Grguras after a walk along the river, wine tasting at the Foxburg Wine Cellars, lunch or dinner at The Allegheny Grille, or at Foxburg Pizza, enjoy gourmet coffee and desserts at Divani Chocolatier and Barrista.  In EMLENTON, begin your afternoon shopping at Amy’s Closet, or biking along the Emlenton river trail, renting bikes from Segway of Western PA  with a pre-concert super at Little It Deli in Emlenton. And perhaps overnight at the Foxburg Inn or in Emlenton at the Barnard House. Photograph by

The Billy Price Band

Officially recognized as a Pittsburgh Rock ’n Roll Legend, BILLY PRICE has been known for decades as one of the finest soul men in the business. His national and international profile dates back to the early ‘70s when he formed the Rhythm Kings, toured as Roy Buchanan’s singer and later fronted the hugely popular Keystone Rhythm Band.

Billy’s album with recently deceased Chicago soul singer Otis Clay, This Time for Real,  received a 2016 Blues Music Award by the Blues Foundation of Memphis, Tennessee in the category of Best Soul Blues Album.  His band’s fifth CD, Alive and Strange, recorded LIVE and released in April 2017, has “put him on a higher plane” according to Scott Mervis of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Being a soul scholar as well as singer, Price shies away from standards and puts his stamp on deeper tracks like Carl Sims’ It Ain’t a Juke Joint Without the Blues, Percy Mayfield’s Nothing Stays the Same Forever and Bobby Byrd’s Never Get Enough.”  (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)  Billy Price has recorded and released a total of 15 albums, CDs, and DVDs.

Soulful Femme

AMAZING GREAT just got even HOTTER – as SOULFUL FEMME opens the concert with the wailing, soulful blues singing of STEVEE WELLONS and the blazing, virtuoso blues guitar playing of CHERYL RINOVATO.  

Having spent years playing blues, soul, jazz and rock music around the country, Stevee Wellons, Cheryl Rinovato and three other seasoned musicians formed the Stevee Wellons Band and they have been burning it up in the Pittsburgh area ever since. In 2016, the Band represented the region in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, which provided encouragement and inspiration for the group to bring their own mix of blues and soul music to the club and concert circuit in Pennsylvania and record their first full-length CD.

Performing “Blues and Rhythm & Blues for your soul”, Stevee and Cheryl have come together as SOULFUL FEMME with the distilled essence of the larger band.  Opening for Samantha Fish this spring in Pittsburgh, they were on fire, as in the Aretha Franklin tune, Since You’ve Been Gone. 

This is more than a Blues “appetizer” to open the concert… as in a “Tasting” where every course is the best of the best, you will be transported by one of the hottest new blues groups on the circuit – SOULFUL FEMME – and its pairing with the Billy Price Band – right here in the beautiful Allegheny River Valley!

Billy Price has been entertaining audiences in Pittsburgh, Pa., since the early 1970s. In April 2016, he was officially recognized and inducted as a Pittsburgh Rock ’n Roll Legend at an award ceremony sponsored by the Cancer Caring Center of Pittsburgh.

Members of the Billy Price Band are Steve Delach (guitar), Tom Valentine (bass), Dave Dodd (drums), Jimmy Britton (keyboards), and Eric DeFade (tenor sax).

Billy Price first attracted national attention during his three-year association with guitarist Roy Buchanan.  Price is the vocalist on two of Buchanan’s LPs, That’s What I’m Here For and Livestock. The pair toured the U.S. and Canada, playing Carnegie Hall in New York City, the Newport Jazz Festival, the Roxy and Troubadour in Los Angeles, and the Spectrum in Philadelphia.

After leaving Buchanan, Price formed the Keystone Rhythm Band in 1977, which recorded four critically acclaimed LPs, developed a reputation as one of the most exciting touring bands in the U.S., and toured the Eastern US on a circuit that stretched from Boston to Atlanta with large followings in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, DC and North Carolina.   Sustaining several personnel changes, the band performed until 1990. He then formed The Billy Price Band, which currently consists of Steve Delach (guitar), Tom Valentine (bass), Dave Dodd (drums), Jimmy Britton (keyboards), and Eric DeFade (tenor sax).

His album This Time for Real, with recently deceased Chicago soul singer Otis Clay, received a 2016 Blues Music Award by the Blues Foundation of Memphis, Tennessee in the category of Best Soul Blues Album. A live album by the Billy Price Band, Alive and Strange, was released by NolaBlue/Vizztone Label Group in April 2017.

With the Keystone Rhythm Band, the Billy Price Band, and solo projects, Billy Price has recorded and released a total of 15 albums, CDs, and DVDs.

Stevee Wellons and Cheryl Rinovato – seasoned musicians in the Stevee Wellons Band – have been performing together as the duo, SOULFUL FEMME, bringing “Blues and Rhythm & Blues for your Soul” to the club and concert circuit.


Stevee Wellons recalls her first performance as toddler in her crib! Stevee’s mother was a pianist and vocalist and taught her the fundamentals of singing. At age 14, Stevee began a singing group with some of her school friends, performing at a few talent shows and ‘dancehall socials’ in her neighborhood.

Stevee began her professional singing career at 21 years of age performing with her former husband in various bands.  She went out on her own performing in supper clubs in the Pittsburgh area and then sang with several popular bands in the city—Shaker, JumpStreet, The Real Deal and the Crusiers, to name a few. Over the years, Stevee has shared the stage with The Dazz Band, Cameo, Howard Hewitt, The Crystals, the Elmonics, The Marcels, the Vogues and many more.

Stevee is also a recording artist, singing lead and background vocals for various artists in Pittsburgh, New York City, Chicago and in DC. She currently sings in Pittsburgh as a freelance vocalist with the Stevee Wellons Band and Soulful Femme. Stevee is a vocal coach and instructor at the Afro-American Music Institute.


Guitarist, Cheryl Rinovato has an applied Music Degree with 2nd major in Arranging and Composition at the famed Berklee College of Music.  Cheryl began her musical career as a studio musician throughout New England.

Since moving to Pittsburgh, Cheryl has had a musical career as a professional musician with numerous area bands.  She also has done extensive studio recording work. Cheryl has been the recipient of the prestigious Jim Weber Award, given to blues guitarist of the year, three times:  In 2012, 2103 and 2015. She also worked with the great Duke Ellington at age 18.



Pittsburghers have known for decades that Billy Price is one of the finest soul men in the business, and that message was spread a little wider in 2015 when he hooked up with Chicago legend Otis Clay on “This Time for Real.”

In May, Price was in Memphis to pick up best soul blues album at the Blue Music Awards, sadly, a few months after Mr. Clay’s sudden death.

Price — whose career dates back to the early ‘70s when he formed the Rhythm Kings, who toured as Roy Buchanan’s singer and then fronted the hugely popular Keystone Rhythm Band — has had a national and international profile before, but “This Time for Real” put him on a higher plane.

Rather than going the studio route, for the follow-up Price went to the place where he’s shined the most, the live stage. Last September, the Billy Price Band — guitarist Steve Delach, bassist Tom Valentine, drummer Dave Dodd, keyboardist Jimmy Britton and saxophonist Eric DeFade — and a few guests emerged from Club Cafe with his fifth live album, “Alive and Strange,” which will be released on Friday.

Being a soul scholar as well as singer, Price shies away from standards and puts his stamp on deeper tracks like Carl Sims’ “It Ain’t a Juke Joint Without the Blues,” Percy Mayfield’s “Nothing Stays the Same Forever” and Bobby Byrd’s “Never Get Enough.”

So, this is the follow-up to the record with Otis. How did that factor into the idea of making a live album?

Winning the award and getting all the recognition I got from the album with Otis, I wanted to sort of build on that and I thought it was important to establish with the promoters and the people who book big festivals that I had a viable operation going, independently of Otis Clay. So, I wanted to really feature my band on this album, and the statement I’m trying to make is, um, I’ve got a really good band, and you should book us on festivals.

What kind of bump did you get from winning the Blues Music Award?

Well, that was the first album I really ever had good distribution on, through Vizztone. That record had just a lot more radio airplay and a lot more recognition from the blues industry, such as it is. The blues industry is pretty big, it’s a niche industry and you have to get on the circuit and one way to get on the circuit is get played on all the radio shows out there. We got a lot of play on Bluesville on Sirius XM. My name has gotten out there more than it ever has, so I wanted to jump on this and capitalize on that.

This is your fifth live album. How did you go about picking the songs?

I always have a list and I started to think about the songs in my repertoire that are recordable, and I’m not sure how I decide what’s recordable or not, but I guess: “Hasn’t been overdone,” “I’d never done it before,” “It would be something people would want to listen to more frequently,” that kind of thing.

So, let’s talk about a few of them…“Lifestyles of the Poor and Unknown” is a William Bell tune.

This is sort of before William Bell blew up. He has a lot of albums he did on the cheap, maybe five or six of them for his own label. I listen to this disc jockey on the internet a lot. Her name is Cassie Fox, she has a show called Soul of the Blues and she’s really great, she’s from South Carolina. I heard her play that song one day and I wrote to her. I said, “Cassie, what the hell was that? I love that song.” She told me it was a William Bell song, and I taught it to the band with the idea that we’re going to record that one day.

Is it almost unusual at this point for you to hear songs you haven’t heard before, in this genre?

Actually, no. Not at all. I’ll tell you about this other song, “It Ain’t A Juke Joint Without the Blues,” which is one of those things that sticks in your mind forever. This friend of mine, Mike Jaworek, is the booking manager at the Birchmere in Alexandria. He and I share a love for the soul/blues genre. It’s a kind of an obscure genre. It’s really under the radar and not many white people pay attention to it. But it’s sort of the old soul stuff from Stax and Muscle Shoals but a lot dirtier in most cases, a lot raunchier, and produced on the cheap with drum machines and fake horns. It’s a really big in a community in the South of mostly African Americans. Most musicians that I know don’t like it much, for various reasons, but I like it, so Mike told me, “You gotta do ‘It Ain’t A Juke Joint Without the Blues,’ by Carl Sims.” It stuck in my mind, great song, maybe I’ll do it, and I was listening to Cassie’s show and she played something from Carl Sims, so I downloaded a Carl Sims playlist to Spotify and on The Best of Carl Sims was “It Ain’t Juke Joint Without the Blues,” and I said, “OK, I’m going to learn this song. This song would kill.” It’s maybe my favorite on the whole album and it’s one we’re pushing for blues radio. I’ll think it will do well.

Are there others that are particularly special to you?

“Something Strange.” I helped Fred Chapellier write that song for his most recent album. I was encouraging him to think Was (Not Was) for the song but that wasn’t quite his thing. We took it into rehearsal and got a little closer to what I had hoped for for the song, and then started playing it live with an eye toward recording it for this album.

“One More Day” is one I got from Mike Schermer, who goes under the name Mighty Mike Schermer, and he plays guitar with Marcia Ball, but he’s also on Vizztone. He’s a terrific writer, so I met him in Memphis at the Blues Awards last year and I asked him to send me songs and that one jumped out.

Also, we added “Makin’ Plans,” as a bonus track. I wrote it back in the Keystone Rhythm Band days. It’s one of the original songs that didn’t make it onto “Free At Last,” which was the original last KRB album. I wrote it with Mike Karr, who played trumpet and keyboards, and it’s just been around for years and we recorded it for “Strong,” the Billy Price Band album, and again, it didn’t make the cut on that one. It’s always in the back of my mind, I liked it and wondered if we shouldn’t have recorded it then, so we remixed it and it was an opportunity to include it on this album.

I guess you could have gone into the studio and done this, but you wanted to catch the live energy.

Yeah, I did, I did. Actually, Bill Wax who used to program Bluesville on XM radio, I saw him a few months ago in DC and he was kind of wondering why we didn’t go into the studio with this. He said, “Gee, I’d like to hear the full studio treatment on some of these songs,” and he may be right, I’m not sure. I’m pretty sure my next album is going to be all original material, done in the studio.


Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts