By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent
Seven local bands are joining forces to host a benefit concert and basket party to benefit Relay for Life, an annual American Cancer Society fundraiser that supports cancer research and provides services to patients and their families.
“Walk ‘N’Rollers Relay for Life” is scheduled to take place April 18 at Venue of Merging Arts in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood.
The planning committee is led by Mike Giuffre of Whiskey River Panhandlers, who recently lost his wife, Linda, to breast cancer.
“My wife supported me and the music that I play,” Giuffre said, “so I think that she would enjoy knowing that people are coming out to enjoy the music and supporting this good cause. I think it’s fantastic that a lot of people were interested in doing this. Everybody was on board, saying, ‘Yeah, we want to do this. We want to support Relay for Life.’”
The benefit concert and basket party will utilize both floors of the church-turned-arts-venue, giving those who attend an opportunity to see every other band perform on the opposite floor approximately every half hour.
“The reason we’re doing it that way is so there is continuous music,” Giuffre said. “Plus there’s no overlap, so you can see each band or musician individually.”
The entertainment lineup begins with Justin Giuffre and the Pilgrimage, who will play downstairs from 6 to 6:35 p.m. Laurel Harrison’s set will begin upstairs at 6:35 p.m., followed by One Lane Bridge from 7:10 to 7:45 p.m. Just Us will take the stage upstairs at 7:45 p.m. before TREE begins their set downstairs at 8:20 p.m. The final two acts are Jason DeWitt beginning at 8:55 p.m. and Whiskey River Panhandlers, who will end the evening downstairs with their set from 9:30 to 10 p.m.
“It’s a pretty stellar lineup,” said Giuffre, who is also a member of One Lane Bridge. “It encompasses a lot of musical genres, so there will be something for everybody.”
Those who attend can purchase basket raffle tickets throughout the evening. Baskets that will be raffled off contain goods from local sponsors, including American Eagle, Kongsberg Protech Systems, Flood City Café, Aeropostale, Matthew’s Party Tattoo and more. A few high-end baskets will be raffled off, and a 50/50 raffle is to take place as well.
Giuffre and his brother, Justin, who is also a member of Whiskey River Panhandlers, will be selling tickets for a hand-built electric guitar that they built together. The guitar, however, won’t be given away at the event; instead, it will be given away at this year’s Relay for Life of Cambria County, which is scheduled for June 13 at Central Cambria High School in Ebensburg.
Those who attend the show and are 21 or older may bring their own alcoholic beverages. Food will be available for sale, including homemade pulled pork sandwiches and hot dogs.
“For those who are willing to come out, I would like to thank them now and say that we appreciate the support,” he said. “The more money we raise, the more research and help we can get (for cancer patients and their families).”