The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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June 11, 2014

Promoter staging a coup

Norry resident wants OK to book acts, fill amphitheater

— SUNBURY — A Valley entertainment promoter has top acts waiting to perform at the city’s new riverfront amphitheater, and is counting on Sunbury municipal and Sunbury Revitalization Inc. officials for the go-ahead.

Among those possibly interested in taking the stage in August: Brett Michaels, of Poison.

That’s if city officials work with Travis Fisher, who is interested in booking entertainment at the 500-seat amphitheater that overlooks a permanent 20-foot by 50-foot concrete-slab stage.

When the amphitheater first opened in 2012, city leaders promised big-name acts and events during the summer.

Sunbury Revitalization Inc., has promoted events, such as the spring Wake the Lake, the fall Lake Augusta Wine and Brew Festival, and the summertime Sunbury River Festival, which will provide musical acts, and the Lake Augusta Renaissance Festival.

The city also schedules entertainment in Cameron Park.

But as far as weekend “big bands,” there aren’t any scheduled.

Act now on acts

Fisher, of Fisher Promotions, Northumberland, said it’s not too late to draw large crowds to the amphitheater, with countless boats docking and enjoying a night of summer music.

“That place is one of the best settings I have ever seen,” Fisher said. “I have been here all my life and I get asked all the time to bring concerts to other areas, but I continue to say no because I want our residents to be able to enjoy a night out.”

Fisher, who has been promoting concerts for nearly 10 years, has worked with top bands such as Slaughter, Kix and Brett Michaels.

“I can have him (Brett Michaels) here in August,” Fisher said. “I need the support of the city and we need them to open those doors and have them get a group of people involved and we can make this place a place people want to go to.”

Fisher said he visited the amphitheater several times.

“There are some issues for big concerts, but we can iron all of those out,” Fisher said. “I mean the backdrop of the Susquehanna River of a concert is just an amazing setting.”

Fisher met with city and SRI officials, Councilman Jim Eister said, adding he doesn’t have a problem with Fisher wanting to use the amphitheater for events.

“We would love for him to bring in Brett Michaels,” Eister said. “We would be more than happy to listen to any proposals he has. The city would be more than willing to sit and talk with him again. Let’s get the dates and we look forward to bringing in a big-name band.”

SRI President Meghan Beck also agreed to work with Fisher.

“Absolutely,” she said.

About 60 miles northwest of Sunbury, Lock Haven — with its riverfront, amphitheater and a floating stage added in 1998 to accommodate summer musical acts — has accomplished what Sunbury planners had hoped.

Lock Haven turns from a ghost town on weekends into a popular destination, with concerts booked every weekend through the end of the summer. Lock Haven also has local media sponsors that help promote each event.

Lock Haven’s amphitheater holds about 2,500 people, plus more than 50 boats dock near the stage at any given time, Lock Haven city planner Leonora Hannagan said.

The summer concerts at Lock Haven didn’t begin initially and city officials had little money in the budget for advertising. Local media stepped in, as did nonprofit organizations, and the music started playing, Hannagan said.

“We started off slow, but we grew,” she said. “We also have an additional 13 concerts in our downtown area.”

Sunbury is also starting off slowly, but now in its sophomore year of operating the amphitheater, city officials need to get the ball moving, Fisher said.

“I have access to top bands,” he said. “If we get moving we can really do something down there. I think if we work together we can really make some great things happen down there.”

The riverfront project featured about a mile of paving work for a walking trail on the riverside of the floodwall, as well as a service road for maintenance. The trail has several dozen LED lights and is monitored by least three security cameras.

Several hundred yards of the wall were redone in precast concrete, and trees and gardens were placed throughout the reconstructed area, which stretches more than a mile.

The $2.4 million pedestrian trail, funded by the state Department of Transportation, has 68 lights and was built on the city side of the floodwall.

 

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