September 28, 2023

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – This year’s AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival will have top-notch acts rocking Johnstown.

The festival, which will be held Friday and July 30 at Peoples Natural Gas Park, 90 Johns St., downtown Johnstown, will feature 14 bands, including headliners the Spin Doctors and Railroad Earth.

“We’re pretty excited by the lineup, and we think it’s very diverse in terms of the kind of genres of music we’re presenting,” said Ron Carnevali, festival chairman.

“We have a lot of women-fronted bands and that’s a nice thing to have. It’s sometimes challenging to create that kind of diversity in the lineup, but this year, we are fortunate enough to do so.”

The festival offers a variety of genres, including blues, acoustic rock, funk and bluegrass.

“We look for bands that do great live shows, regardless of the genre,” Carnevali said.

“We’re also looking for variety, and there’s a little bit of something for everyone. It’s going to be a well-attended festival and there’s a lot of excitement in the community.”

Railroad Earth will headline Friday’s lineup.

Railroad Earth is a bluegrass-influenced Americana band formed in Stillwater, New Jersey, in 2001.

The band’s music combines elements of progressive bluegrass, folk, rock, country, jazz, Celtic and other Americana influences.

Recognized as “carrying on the tradition of improvisational, genre-spanning music laid forth by the Grateful Dead,” Railroad Earth is known for lyrical songwriting and live improvisation.

“They are attracting a lot of attention, and Friday’s single-day ticket sales are really strong and I think they are the reason why,” Carnevali said.

“They’re a jamgrass band and very popular on the festival circuit. They’re experienced and professional and they’ll be a real highlight.”

• On July 30, the Spin Doctors will be the headliner.

The Spin Doctors is a rock band from New York City, known for its early ’90s hits “Two Princes” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong,” which peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at No. 7 and No. 17, respectively.

The band’s debut studio album “Pocket Full of Kryptonite” was released in August 1991 and the group toured extensively, gaining grassroots fans.

In 2011, the Spin Doctors celebrated the 20-year anniversary of “Pocket Full of Kryptonite” with U.S. and United Kingdom tours.

In April 2013, the band released its sixth studio album.

“Even though it was some time ago that they had those big hits, they’ve stayed together and the lineup is pretty much intact and they’re still making music,” Carnevali said.

“They are wonderful people to work with and we’ve had a really good experience working with them and their team. I have a lot of optimism about how they are going to be received, and they’re going to be great.”

An additional 12 acts will perform during the two-day festival.

Big Something fuses elements of rock, pop, funk and improvisation to take listeners through a myriad of musical styles.

The band has released five full-length studio albums and another is expected this year.

“They are real up-and-comers, and I think we’ll be looking back a few years from now thinking how lucky we were to have had them here,” Carnevali said.

“A good variety of musical styles are represented in what they play. It’s a big sound and they have a lot of fun.”

Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, 18, earned his nickname for his guitar playing.

He debuted on national TV at age 10, landed a starring Broadway role at 12, and has since performed with many musicians, including veterans of the AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival such as Gregg Allman, Derek Trucks, Dr. John, George Porter Jr., Robert Randolph, Dumpstaphunk, Galactic and The Revivalists.

“He’s a child prodigy guitar player who came along as a young man and started getting attention from established musicians who became big fans of his guitar playing,” Carnevali said.

“He’s a show-offy guitar player and Johnstowners love that sort of thing. I think he’s going to put on a great show for us.”

Ally Venable Band is fronted by a Texas-born guitarist and singer who puts a fresh spin on blues-rock traditions.

Venable was 14 when she cut her debut EP, “Wise Man.”

She’s now touring in support of her fourth release “Heart of Fire.”

“She’s a great guitar player,” Carnevali said.

“Kenny Wayne Shepherd is her mentor and she plays a similar style as he does and it’s sort of a blues-rock sound. This is a show I’m really looking forward to and it’s a highlight.”

Karina Rykman played the 2021 festival with Marco Benevento. The bass player paired with Benevento and now plays with her own band, racking up festival appearances across the country.

“She just played The Peach Music Festival in Scranton and she got tremendous reviews from her performance,” Carnevali said.

“She will be the late-night show on July 30 and she’ll be a great closer for the festival.”

Vanessa Collier weaves funk, soul, rock and blues into every performance.

With soulful vocals, searing saxophone and witty songwriting, Collier is sure to impress.

“She’s a Berklee College of Music-trained saxophone player, and the style of blues she plays varies from song to song, from funk to soul,” Carnevali said.

“She’s been a dream to work with and we’re really looking forward to her show. She’s going to catch people by surprise.”

The Fritz is a soul-driven dance rock band from Asheville, North Carolina.

The group’s aggressive approach to funk, soul and rock creates a sound that is uniquely their own.

“They are real funky and soulful and they’re going to close down our July 29 show playing the late-night set,” Carnevali said. “They are a real party band and people will like that.”

Buffalo Rose is a charismatic six-piece modern folk/Americana band from Pittsburgh.

The band performs acoustic music.

“They are doing big things and just made a new record which is really good,” Carnevali said.

“We’ve had them play in Johnstown at the park before, so we know we’re going to get a great show. We’re pleased to have them on the bill and they’ll open things up for us on July 30.”

HABATAT last played the AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival in 2015. Established in early 2012, the funk-rock outfit has become veterans of the festival and live music circuit in Pittsburgh and the tri-state area.

HABATAT has shared stages with the Soul Rebels, Pink Talking Fish, Twiddle, the Heavy Pets, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong and Joe Lewis Walker.

“They are a regional band with lots of horns and they play upbeat music,” Carnevali said.

“They did a show for us last summer and we were really impressed by them. They do a great live show and they’ll be a lot of fun for people.”

Shelf Life String Band is an untraditional bluegrass five-piece with a solid repertoire of musical sounds. Based in Pittsburgh, the band last played the AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival in 2011.

“They are a great bluegrass band out of Pittsburgh with solid players,” Carnevali said.

“They’re a tremendous band who we’ve had here before, so we know they’ll do a great live show for us. They are the real thing.”

Silver Screen is a Johnstown-based alternative rock band molded in the living room of a house Ben Ressler and Austin Danel shared in 2016.

The band has two EP releases and frequently plays in the region.

“They have a tremendous local following, and we’ve been blown away by the extent of their social media followers and the excitement their fans have about the festival,” Carnevali said.

“They’re going to bring a lot of young folks out who maybe haven’t been to the festival before.”

Kevin Dale Band is a Johnstown-based act that has opened for national artists such as Josh Turner, Cam, Wynonna Judd and Poison’s Bret Michaels.

Dale has more than 30 years under his belt, performing in rooms of all sizes in six states.

“He is a country crooner and very popular in the area,” Carnevali said. “He plays a lot of shows around Johnstown that are well-attended, and he has a nice following. He plays traditional and some modern country music, so he adds variety to the lineup.”

The Rusty Shackles are newcomers to the Johnstown music scene, but are familiar faces to local music fans. Ed Locher IV, Adam Milkovich, Chris Verbano and Luke Harrison make up the core members of the Americana group, all of whom are both accomplished solo musicians and collaborators.

“They play old-time rock ’n’ roll and rockabilly, which is another great addition to the lineup of music we have this year,” Carnevali said.

“It’s a sound that’s not represented by any other of the bands. They are a cool little band.”

General admission tickets for the festival are $25 for Friday and $40 for July 30.

A two-day pass is available for $50. A two-day VIP pass is available for $75 and includes access to the VIP Lounge and the site’s full bar and indoor restrooms, as well as a tented viewing area at the main stage.

Tickets can be purchased online at Passes also are available at the Heritage Discovery Center.

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