The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Montour County

July 4, 2014

Bevy of bands to perform during festival

— DANVILLE — Canal Park will come alive with music throughout the day on July 19 during Danville’s Iron Heritage Festival.

Performances are scheduled by The Jolly Tars, at 10 a.m. and at 2 p.m.; by the Excelsior Cornet Band, at 11 a.m.; Jim Haney the banjo man, at noon; the Union Volunteers Fife & Drum Corps, at 1 p.m.; Van Wagner, at 3 p.m.; Suzanne Walzer, at 4 p.m.; and Echoing Heart. at 5 p.m.

Ken Purcell and Jake Laubach make up The Jolly Tars who have known each other for 15 years.

“This will be my fourth time in Danville. The first time I was with one of my sons and the second was with another son. Last year, I was with Jake and this year I will be with Jake,” Purcell said.

Purcell is from White Hall and Laubach lives in Emmaus, both in Lehigh County.

Their venues have ranged from Mystic, Conn., to Newport News, Va.

Purcell and Laubach played together as a pick-up band with other musicians for Civil War roundtables and re-enactment groups.

In Danville in keeping with the festival theme of after Gettysburg, they will be playing mostly Civil War tunes and some nautical numbers.

Laubach plays the five-string banjo in hammer-claw style, harmonica and Irish whistle. Purcell strums guitar. Purcell is a pianist. Both are concertina players.

While Purcell is retired after 35 years in recreation therapy at a psychiatric hospital, Laubach works in retail sales.

“I look forward to returning to Danville. It’s a marvelous festival where you see things you haven’t before,” Purcell said such as rope making. “I like the food served there,” he said.

They also enjoyed Old Forge Brewing Co. in between sets as a way of cooling down last year in their wool sailor suits.

They are branching into another area Purcell believes may be their most popular niche which will result in more travel for the two. They plan to do songs from the American industrial revolution “which has been getting on people’s radar for history events of coal mining, canals, railroads and silk mills,” he said.

Also performing will be the Excelsior Cornet Band — New York state’s only authentic Civil War brass band. The group was founded in 2001 and is made up of upstate New York musicians performing original Civil War music on actual antique brass band instruments from the 1860s.

In 13 years of performing, they have appeared in concert, at educational programs and during living history events.

Their musical arrangements are from band books of Civil War-era bands or arranged from original Civil War-era sheet music.

Wearing uniforms typical of an early war New York State Militia Band, they are professional performers with years of experience.

The Union Volunteers Fife and Drum Corps, of Buffalo, N.Y., is an historically authentic musical group which specializes in the martial field music of the Civil War.

They wear uniforms of northern Union musicians and perform with replica-period instruments during parades, civic and patriotic events, memorials, funerals and ceremonies along with school and community organization programs.

They have also played for the National Park Service.

Haney has performed at many locations throughout Pennsylvania.

Wagner, a musician, songwriter, historian and teacher from the Danville area and Danville native, will return to the Canal Park stage along Mill Street.

Walzer, who formed Zing Productions with John Brady, teaches children music in downtown Danville and has been a performer for some time. She is also from Danville.

Echoing Heart features the fiddle, banjo, mandolin and harmonica.

Email comments to

Text Only

Danville Photos