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When you think of beer meccas, Italy isn’t first on the list. Conventional wisdom holds that you look to this country more for wine than suds.

Even so, don’t dismiss Peroni outright.

Billed as the top Italian beer import to America, this is a foamy and straw-colored brew with a floral aroma. There are similarities to another European brew, Beck’s, in the use of Saaz hops, or at least Saaz-like hops, in the creation process.

To be forthright and honest, it’s a pretty thin offering. There’s not a whole lot of substance to it.

Still, if you enjoy European-style pilsners — or light, summer-y easy drinkers — Peroni isn’t the worst route to take.


Symphony orchestra announces big plans for ‘17-’18

James Blachly, conductor for the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, tells an audience at the Johnstown Heritage Discovery Center about the upcoming season’s concerts on April 19. Staff photo by Cody McDevitt.


The Johnstown Symphony Orchestra has announced its upcoming concert season schedule. Conductor James Blachly said an emphasis will be placed on the connection between the city and the symphony as its theme throughout its 2017-18 season.

“We will be highlighting our history, our present and our future together,” Blachly said.

It will be called “My Johnstown Symphony.” Blachly and other symphony members held an event at the Johnstown Heritage Discovery Center that included food, cocktails and a presentation by their director and conductor April 19.

The season will kick off on Sept. 16 with “A Night in Venice,” which will feature Italian food and music connected to that city.
“Like Johnstown, Venice was founded because of its location near the water,” Blachly said. “We will be celebrating that unique city with a great party with costumes.”

On Oct. 20 they will have an open performance at the Cambria Iron Works, which keeps with the theme of the season, connecting Johnstown’s heritage with the symphony. It’s to be free and open to the public. They plan on inviting old steelworkers back for the performance.

On Oct. 21 they are to perform the “American Music Festival: Part I Past and Future,” which will showcase music by Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland among others.

On Nov. 11 they are to have the second part of the American music festival, and it’s to be a program commemorating Veterans Day. It is to also feature a performance of “Appalachian Spring,” by Copland.

“It’s an important composition in American history, and it tells what we think America can be,” Blachly said.

The symphony is to have its Christmas Choir Spectacular on Dec. 16. They are to have a “JSO Pops” concert Feb. 10 that includes eight decades of Broadway music, part of which will be from “West Side Story” and “South Pacific.”

The symphony is to perform the North American premiere of Ethel Smyth’s “The Prison” on April 7. On May 12 of next year they are to close out their season with “Symphonic Pictures,” which will blend various art forms to accompany the music.

Other special concerts include the traditional Mother’s Day performance in Somerset and a Fourth of July Fireworks concert at Point Stadium this summer. They also plan to have April young people’s concerts for fifth-grade students.

And perhaps the highlight of the upcoming season involves Josh Gallagher, a Cambria County native who rose to fame after his appearances on NBC’s “The Voice.”

Ebensburg art show scheduled


Works of art by two Ebensburg-area artists are to be raffled off during the 19th annual “Art in Bloom” spring art show, to be held April 29 and April 30 at the Cambria County Courthouse, 200 S. Center St. The art show is sponsored by the Ebensburg Main Street Partnership.

Brandon Hirt, an Ebensburg photographer, has donated a framed photo of the Lemon House taken with long exposure photography, and artist S. Scott Steberger of Lilly has donated a framed watercolor called “84 Trees.”

Raffle tickets are to be sold during the art show, scheduled from 12 to 6 p.m. April 29, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 30. The winning tickets are to be drawn at the conclusion of the show April 30.

Ticket holders do not have to be present at the drawing to win.

“We are so fortunate each year to have these amazing pieces donated for the show,” said Danea Koss, Ebensburg Borough’s community development director. “The generosity of our local community of artists is extraordinary, and the funds raised from the artwork raffle really help to keep this show going.”

Visit the partnership’s website at for more information about the spring art show.

The Vinyl Review: ‘Sledgehammer’

I saw Peter Gabriel was on the Lithium satellite radio station the other day. I was surprised to see one of his songs included in the 1990s grunge offering.

My only knowledge of Gabriel’s music is “Sledgehammer,” which was a hit decades ago. That wasn’t the song on Lithium. I didn’t recognize, and subsequently forgot, the song’s name.

The point here is that it reminded me of “Sledgehammer,” a song I thought was safely etched into plastic, stashed in my vinyl collection.

After digging through my records, however, it came up missing.

I have a new target the next time I go record hunting. I don’t want an entire Gabriel record, just that one song on a 45. I have a feeling the B-side is going to be marginal at best.

As a result, I ended up listening to Joe Diffie instead.

(Another YouTube suggestion: The video for “Sledgehammer.” Draw your own conclusions.)



‘Emperor of Sand’
11 songs, 51 minutes
Reprise Records (2017)

An old friend once joked that he expected the next Mastodon album to sound a lot like Nickelback.

The guy was taking a swipe at the decidedly un-metal direction this Atlanta-based group has taken on recent albums. And if you listen to “Show Yourself,” the second track on the new record, you can kind of see what he meant.

But despite some obvious pop overtures, “Emperor of Sand” really isn’t a bad album. The song “Steambreather” locks in a mean prog-rock groove that calls Rush to mind. “Roots Remain,” the following track, is just as solid.

This is Mastodon’s best offering since 2009’s “Crack the Skye.” As long as you don’t go into it expecting to hear songs in the vein of “March of the Fire Ants,” you should have no problem enjoying this one.


Circus slated at War Memorial arena


The Garden Bros. Circus is bringing its “all-new, fast-paced, totally exciting show” to Johnstown for two upcoming performances.

Tickets are available online at for the 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. shows May 1 at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena. The first 100 adult tickets purchased online are to be sold at a discounted rate.

Free admission tickets for children are being distributed at local elementary schools, preschools, day care centers, churches and select businesses in the area.

Tickets are also going to be available for purchase at the War Memorial box office on the day of the event.

The Garden Bros. Circus features motorcycle daredevils, Chinese acrobats, the Human Slingshot, aerialists, cirque artists and clowns, as well as performing elephants, camels, llamas, horses and buffalo.

The circus has performed in North America for more than 100 years, and is produced by the producers of the Ice Capades. More information on the circus and the Johnstown shows is available at the website.

The Wall: Events for the Week of April 26

Who: Johnstown RC Club
What: Mall show
Where: Johnstown Galleria
When: May 6 through May 8
Additional details: The Johnstown RC Club, which was founded in 1962, holds its annual mall show on the lower level across from the Bon-Ton. More than 50 planes and helicopters will be on display with demonstrations of small helicopters, drones and gliders taking place throughout the weekend. The club is to have several flight simulators in action on laptops. For more information, contact club president Sam Kaplitz at 814-288-6507 or newsletter editor Roger Luther at 814-266-2630 or

Who: Colebrook Road
What: Concert
Where: VOMA, 305 Chestnut St. in Cambria City
When: May 13 — doors open at 6:30 p.m. and music starts at 7:00 p.m.
Additional details: Award-winning Harrisburg-based bluegrass band Colebrook Road is to play this show with special guests Justin Giuffre and the Pilgrimage. All ages are welcome at the show. The event is BYOB for those 21 and older, with ID. Advance tickets are available via VOMA’s online ticketing, including a limited number of reserved seating tickets. Visit for more information.

Who: Community Arts Center of Cambria County
What: Kentucky Derby Tea Fundraising Event
Where: Community Arts Center of Cambria County
When: May 6 beginning at 11 a.m.
Additional details: The Community Arts Center of Cambria County is to hold its first annual Kentucky Derby Tea event. The luncheon catered Sunnehanna Country Club is to feature various vendors and tea provided by the Millhouse Café. During the event, there is to be a variety of entertainment, including but not limited to: games, 50/50 raffle, horse track raffle, free door prizes, miscellaneous performances and a chance to make a glass fusion jewelry pendant. As a specialty area, there is to be a Kentucky Derby “selfie station” for attendees to take pictures in front of. Tickets are available for purchase at the arts center. Pre-registration is required for all attendees. The arts center is still accepting jewelry vendors for this event. More information online tickets can be found at; or register by phone at 814-255-6515. The deadline for registration and payments is May 2. Proceeds from the event benefit the Community Arts Center of Cambria County.

Who: Cambria County Library
What: May classes
Where: Cambria County Library
When: All classes are to be offered on a Tuesday from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Additional details: The Cambria County Library has announced their free classes for the month of May. This month’s classes are genealogy related and will be offered on a Tuesday from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. on the first floor computer lab. Class size is limited, so registration is recommended as soon as possible. Register at the third floor Information desk, or call 814-536-5131, ext. 5, to register.


Flying Dog, even in its weakest offerings, always impresses aesthetically with its Steadman-style illustrated labels.

And thankfully, with Lucky SOB, this brewer strikes gold with what’s inside the bottle as well.

An Irish red ale with a hint of strawberry in the scent, this one pours a chestnut brown with a dark-cherry glossing. The floral hops add spice to a flavor that has fruit character without the sweetness.

Brewed with clovers for a subtle accent and, undoubtedly, a nice marketing hook, this is an intriguing beer that’s probably the best this reviewer has tried thus far in 2017.

Hats off, yet again, to the eminent brewers at Flying Dog.


VOMA to host bluegrass group Mountain Ride

Our Town Correspondent

Bluegrass band Mountain Ride will perform at Venue of Merging Arts, VOMA, on April 7 as part of the venue’s folk and bluegrass series.

Mountain Ride features Eric Avey on guitar and vocals, Scott Matlock on fiddle and vocals, Corey Woodcock on banjo, Chance Hurley on mandolin and Kate Avey on bass and vocals.

Together, these five friends and musicians have toured the country. Their closest stop to Johnstown came last fall when they performed at Windber’s Bluegrass in the Park festival.

Local musician and folk and bluegrass series organizer Micah Mood said he’s excited to welcome Mountain Ride back to the area for their first performance at VOMA.

“My band had the chance to play right before Mountain Ride at last year’s Windber Bluegrass in the Park festival, and they put on a great set,” said Mood, a member of Johnstown’s own Striped Maple Hollow. “They opened with an instrumental Bill Monroe song, ‘Jerusalem Ridge,’ which is a family favorite of ours, and it was a great chance to get to see them for the first time.”

Mood said he’d describe the band’s music as “up-tempo bluegrass with a great blend of traditional and progressive influences.”

“They’ve got a great repertoire of original songs, and they have the classic bluegrass instrumentation — guitar, fiddle, banjo, mandolin and bass. I enjoy string bands with all sorts of instrument configurations, but the classic five piece arrangement, including fiddle, is still my favorite,” he said.

Windber’s The Les Hunter Band will open the all-ages, BYOB show.

“The Les Hunter Band played on a bluegrass show last year, and I’m glad to have them back,” Mood said. “This three piece string band leans heavily into the outlaw-and-alt-country realms, and I think their songs and instrumentation will be a great counterpoint complement to Mountain Ride’s driving bluegrass.”

Mood added that this performance marks the second of three VOMA Bluegrass and Folk Series shows this spring.

“I think this spring series is a great showcase of the kind of great bluegrass coming out of Pennsylvania right now,” he said. “Mountain Ride play a ton, so I’m grateful we had the chance to get them in on our calendar for a show. And it’s not just me talking up this show — The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers, who just played to a full house at VOMA on March 11, implored the audience to come back out in April to see their friends Mountain Ride put on a great show.”

Tickets for this performance are on sale and can be purchased in advance by visiting online. Doors are scheduled to open at 6:30 p.m. that evening, with the music scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

“A bluegrass show at VOMA is a great chance to see a good band, oftentimes playing to a single microphone, in a small room with a warm, intimate atmosphere,” Mood said. “Bands tend to be loose and at ease, and it just makes for a great night of music.”

VOMA is located at 305 Chestnut St. in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood. For more information, including a list of upcoming events and performances, visit

Glassmaking studio opens in Westmont

Submitted photo
Angela Godin, executive director of the Community Arts Center of Cambria County, poses for a check-passing photo with Community Foundation for the Alleghenies Executive Director Mike Kane.

Our Town Correspondent

Staff members at Community Arts Center of Cambria County recently unveiled the nonprofit’s Glass Fusion Studio.

“We are the only studio in this area offering something like this,” said Angela Godin, executive director of the arts center. “It is very exciting and special to us as an organization to offer a fully functional Glass Fusion Studio. The closest one is located outside of Pittsburgh.”

The arts center’s former darkroom was converted into the new Glass Fusion Studio.

“It was the perfect scenario,” Godin said. “It created a space for the new glass fusion kiln, along with all of the materials. This permitted them to be kept separate from the other divisions of our glass department, such as the stained glass and mosaic items. 

“The room is a practical and functional space that was formerly used for storage.”

The arts center has already hosted a handful of glass fusion workshops, giving people who are interested in glassmaking opportunities to make items such as tiles, trivets, ornaments, bowls and jewelry.

“Our first round of workshops was completely full and even had waiting lists,” Godin said. “Individuals have called with interest when our next workshops will be offered. 

“It is very exciting to see all our hard work to make this dream become a reality come into being. We hope to continue offering more workshops and classes to accommodate everyone interested.”

Godin added that, when it comes to glass fusion, workshop opportunities seem endless.

“There is such a large realm of diversity that can be created in glass fusion,” she said. “We are only scratching the surface of what we will eventually be able to offer. Through the process of glass fusing, you can make great tiles, trivets, bowls, light shades, jewelry, ornaments, miscellaneous 3-D works of art and more.
“To start, we are focusing on tiles trivets, jewelry and ornament projects. The creative process allows for new opportunities and expansion on our curriculum constantly.”

Instructors for the arts center’s education department have been offering stained glass and mosaic classes for a number of years, and the addition of the Glass Fusion Studio allows for a permanent home for these already established areas, not to mention the creation of a complete Glass Studio Division.

“I am excited beyond words to be a part of this new endeavor,” said Lida Hood, education director for the arts center. “I truly believe this will take our class offerings to a new level.”

Hood is in the process of developing a multi-level curriculum of glass fusion techniques and skill building. Glass art is to be created during workshops or six-week length classes, while specialization on projects and techniques are to be centralized in one-day workshops. Children’s classes and camps are also be offered.

Godin said the studio wouldn’t be complete without the purchase of a new glass kiln and all of the necessary “start-up” supplies the arts center needed. The kiln and supplies were provided by the Robert Waters Economic Development Fund of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies as part of a 2016 fall grant.

The Community Foundation and its donors supported 63 organizations throughout Bedford, Cambria, Indiana, and Somerset counties through that grant, and Community Arts Center received $3,200.

“The Community Foundation for the Alleghenies is proud to support the Community Arts Center of Cambria County through this grant,” said Angie Berzonski, program and communications officer for Community Foundation for the Alleghenies. “In reviewing this project, our Distribution Committee appreciated their efforts to integrate new arts technology and was excited about the opportunities that the glass kiln will provide.”

Godin said she and her staff are thrilled with the possibilities that come with the opening of the new studio.

“We are privileged to be one of the 63 organizations to have received funds,” Godin said. “Our entire staff is excited about the new opportunities for our community and are thrilled to be able to host the first Glass Studio in our region. This new chapter in the community arts center’s history is very exciting.”

For more information about the Glass Fusion Studio, call an arts center staff member at 814-255-6515 or visit online.

The Community Arts Center of Cambria County is located in Westmont along Menoher Boulevard.

“Glass fusion is something that has been around for a long time, but not every organization or center can offer it,” Godin said. “We are truly blessed to have received a grant from the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies. This was able to give us the jump start to offer something new to our community and expand the ways we ‘keep the Arts Alive in Cambria County.’ No matter the age or experience level, we can offer something with glass fusion.

“Because of the unique way fusion works and the different types of ways items can be fused, you never know what your item will look like when it comes out of the kiln. The surprise and joy of this mystery makes very alluring. You could fuse a million pieces of glass and make thousands of different items and not one would ever be the same.”

Arts center readies for annual auction

Our Town Correspondent

The 28th Great American Auction will take place inside Community Arts Center of Cambria County’s Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Center gallery April 7.

The Great American Auction gives people an opportunity to win an array of items that will be part of the evening’s live auction. Angela Godin, executive director for the arts center, said that the list of items is as impressive as ever.

Some of the items up for bid include: autographed Arnold Palmer memorabilia, autographed Steelers gear, antique fabric quilts, golf outings, a Sabika necklace, Arcadia Theater tickets, Sight and Sound Theatre tickets and four one-day park hopper passes for Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Gift baskets, gift cards, collectibles and more, which have been donated by the arts center’s members and friends, are also to be auctioned off. Cambria County businesses have pitched in to help make the event a success, too, by donating nearly 100 gift cards and certificates.

A preview of all the items is scheduled at 4:30 p.m. that afternoon. At 5:30 p.m., Dale Mishler of Mishler Auction Services is to begin the bidding.

“Dale has been donating his time and services for pretty much the past 28 years,” Godin said. “He’s so generous, so thorough and so professional. We’re truly blessed to have him partner with us again this year.”

Local business Clark’s Corner Store is to offer food for purchase both before and during the auction.

As in years past, proceeds from the 28th Great American Auction will benefit the arts center.

“All the proceeds from this event go into our general operations fund so we can offer more exciting programming and events to our community,” Godin said. “The money we raise during this auction definitely helps to offset costs for many of the free events we host.”

Godin said she’s hoping that this year’s auction will be as successful as last year’s, which turned into a standing room only event.

“We actually had people backed up into the hallway of the arts center,” Godin said in regards to last year’s auction. “It was literally two and a half hours of non-stop bidding, and that was wonderful for the arts center.”

Last year, Godin said, she worked hard to make some positive changes to the auction that were well-received.

“Last year, we were able to get more high-ticket items,” she said. “Plus, we had such a variety of eclectic and antique items. I think that’s why it was so successful.

“Basically, our auction was packed with a variety of exciting merchandise. My objective is to continue offering the new attractions that prompted more individuals to attend and keep adding additional big ticket items. For example, once again this year I have four Disney passes.”

Godin said she’s proud of the variety of items that are part of this year’s auction, including those Disney passes.

A list of businesses that donated items, as well as pictures of items up for bid, is available on the community arts center’s website at The list and items will be updated regularly up until the event takes place.

The 28th Great American Auction is free to attend. For more information, call an arts staff member at 814-255-6515 or visit the organization’s official website at

The Community Arts Center of Cambria County is located in the Westmont along Menoher Boulevard.

“People are going to find some wonderful items that they could really use or just can’t live without and, at the same time, help a nonprofit that’s a staple in our community,” Godin said.