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Saturday, September 21, 2002

Rock rules at fair

Haley's '50s hits evoke memories

Staff Writer

GRATZ - They jumped, jived and wailed Friday at the Gratz Fair as Bill Haley's Comets featuring John "Bam Bam" Lane took the stage and cranked out the oldies.

The band, dressed in leopard print, reflective jackets, performed a set of 1950s rock 'n' roll hits that had the older members of the 500-person audience reminiscing about their teen-age years.

"It shows rock 'n' roll isn't dead," said Wilbur L. Reddinger, 62 of Shamokin.

Reddinger remembers the days growing up and listening to Bill Haley, who passed away in 1981, on a black-and-white television.

"It brings back a lot of good memories," he said.

Bill Haley's Comets knocked out hits originally written by Haley such as "Rock-A-Beatin' Boogie" and "Shake, Rattle, and Roll." They closed their 1-hour set with "Rock Around the Clock."

The band featured Mike Lampe on standup bass, Dimitri Callis on lead guitar, Lenny Longo on rhythm guitar, Sonny Edwards on sax and Lane, a former member of Bill Haley and the Comets, on drums.

Lane and company raced through Buddy Holly classics like "Peggy Sue" and "That'll be the Day," as well as other notable covers including "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry.

They injected jokes about growing older into their set, which the audience responded to with laughs as if they had been cued.

Sitting with his wife and two grandchildren, Lee A. Kiefer, 61, of Hegins, exposed Evan G. Maurer, 10, and his brother Chase W., 6, to the music of his youth.

"This brings back a lot of memories," Keifer said. "We used to come home from school and watch American Bandstand.'"

As the smell of funnel cakes seeped into the crowd, the band performed like it was 1950. Lampe stood on his bass while continuing to play.

Longo got into sax playing so much he dropped to his knees.

The four standing members played with each moving in a synchronized steps.

Dennis L. Eckler, 60, of Tower City, enjoyed the show.

"The older I get the more I appreciate it," he said. "I loved the music when I was young."

Earlier in the day, more than 400 members of high school bands performed.

The cavalcade of bands included Pine Grove Area, Williams Valley, Millersburg Area, Upper Dauphin Area, Line Mountain Area, Cardinal Brennan, Halifax and Tri-Valley Area high school bands.

"It's a demonstration. Most of them do their half-time shows for football games," said Charles E. Fultz Jr., fair emcee. "The thing I like is you get a chance to see area bands, with over 400 kids, performing together."

The event ended with a collaborative four-song finale.

As the afternoon grew into evening, about 300 people formed a semi-circle around the comical dog show.

Watching the canine antics of Johnny P. Peers and the Muttville Comix performance were Brittany L. Maurer, 15, Hegins and Kerry L. Ensinger, 15, of Valley View, who are both member of the Tri-Valley Area High School band.

Although they had only an hour before the night's football game, they enjoyed the high-wire antics of the pooches as they walked the tightrope.

Friday was one of the busiest days of the fair, with about 6,000 people in attendance.

The fair also held the prized livestock auction and a fireworks display dedicated to a century of 4-H.


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Thanks for visiting See You Soon.....Lenny

See You Soon At One Of Our Shows In Your Area,,,Lenny