WILLIAMSPORT — Uptown Music Collective, a non-profit school of music, will present a fundraising tribute to the Eagles this weekend at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St., in Williamsport.
The performance is their annual “people’s choice” concert. According to Uptown’s founder and executive director Dave Brumbaugh, the tradition has continued each year since the first one in 2006, in which voters chose a country music theme of “Outlaw Country.” Last year, their people’s choice concert “Captain Fantastic and the Piano Man: Tribute to Elton John and Billy Joel” was their “first-ever sellout of the Community Arts Center.”
This year, after several rounds of online voting, fans chose the music of the Eagles. “The Long Run: Music of the Eagles” will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
“We generate a lot of enthusiasm from our loyal supporters each year,” Brumbaugh said. The voting process begins with them presenting ideas for the concert, then in a second round those ideas are offered for voting. In the third round, the top ideas from round two are presented for a final vote. The concert idea with the most votes wins.
The Eagles concert will feature Uptown students performing some of the band’s most well-known songs, including “Hotel California,” “Already Gone,” “Life in the Fast Lane,” “Desperado,” “New Kid in Town,” “Heartache Tonight” and more.
“Our students have designed a show that covers the Eagles’ music from their earliest work to their last album,” Brumbaugh said, adding that the performance also incorporates several of the band members’ solo hits. “The show will be exciting from start to finish, with wall-to-wall hits and a great stage presentation from some very energetic and talented young folks.”
Students take crucial roles
Uptown’s Special Performance Group 1 is in charge of designing, directing and producing the show. Brumbaugh explains that “Students must pass a competitive audition each year to be a part of that group.” This year’s show includes students ages 13 to 19.
“This year, we will be graduating a large class of students, many of whom have been part of the group for eight or more years,” said Brumbaugh
A lot of time and effort goes into this “work-intensive program,” Brumbaugh said. Over the last weekend, students rehearsed for 15 hours over two days. They also meet in smaller groups throughout the week, while leadership committee and directors meet regularly.
The students are looking forward to presenting the show.
“The Eagles have always had a big impact on me musically throughout my entire life,” said show director, Andrew Head, 17, of Montoursville Area High School. “Listening to them growing up really gave me a sense of comfort in music, and a sense of happiness. Being able to direct this show is a dream come true, and I am truly excited to be able to bring this amazing band’s music to life on the CAC’s stage!”
Billy Bellino, 17, a student at Danville Area High School, said he grew up listening to The Eagles — and still does to this day. He knew learning and songs and memorizing the lyrics would be a challenge.
“However,” he said, “I feel as though this show will be one of my favorites. I’m looking forward to hitting those signature Eagles harmonies with my friends and learning the subtle but important components that go into their music.”
Also directing the show is Maren Snow, a student at Lewisburg Area High School. The show’s leadership committee consists of Leah Batman, Izzy Brumbaugh, Molly Chapman, Isabella Cole, Dominic Fredin, Gabreon Godin, Emma Luke, Cassidy Lutz, Tyler Noaker and Gavin Paulhamus.
Event takes on more importance amid COVID
Brumbaugh said this show is an important fundraiser for Uptown each year — “this year more than most.” He said COVID last year forced them to stop all in-person instruction for a time and go to 100 percent virtual. They reopened in September and after that slowly began to schedule performances. But the shutdowns resulted in a 40 percent loss in their student population. They are starting to bring in more students.
“Everyone is suffering during this difficult time, and we know that we are among the lucky ones who have been able to continue doing our work and to keep our staff together,” Brumbaugh said. “We are thankful for what we have.”
A large portion of the proceeds from this people’s choice fundraiser show goes toward scholarship and financial aid funds, while the rest helps the school keep its regular programs running. Brumbaugh said their goal is also to “keep our overall tuition prices as low as we can while maintaining our staff and facilities.”
According to Brumbaugh, this weekend’s performance will be their second major one since COVID struck, and the first before a live audience — other than a small group of parents who watched the students’ last concert in-person.
“We are grateful to the CAC for being our partner in these performances,” said Jared Mondell, assistant executive director of Uptown. “Their enthusiasm for our work, our students, and these performances is incredible, and we are so thankful to their organization and Pennsylvania College of Technology for making our students’ rock and roll dreams come true.”
All CDC and state health recommendations and procedures will be adhered to for this event.
This show is sponsored in part through a partnership with Hudock Capital Group.
Additional partners and sponsors for this performance include Pennsylvania College of Technology, UPMC Susquehanna, Blaise Alexander Family Dealerships, Lycoming College, The Williamsport Sun-Gazette, Woodlands Bank, and Marco Technologies. Media sponsors include 99.3 FM WZXR, and all of Backyard Broadcasting, Lamar Advertising, 92.1 WSQV, NorthCentralPa.com, The Graphic Hive, and Engage Media.
Tickets for the performance are $20 in advance and $25 at the door on performance nights. Tickets for the Saturday night live stream are $15. Advance and streaming tickets are only available through the Community Arts Center (box office and website). For details about the show visit uptownmusic.org or call 570-329-0888. Also, check out Collective’s official Facebook page, as well as other Collective social media outlets for teasers, previews, behind the scenes info, and more from the performance.