Bands play for Women’s Help Center
BY KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent
Last year, several local bands came together to raise money for Women’s Help Center.
The benefit show was so successful — organizers raised over $2,000 for the local non-profit — that Justin Giuffre and his friends have planned another show this spring.
“A Night of Music to Benefit the Women's Help Center” is to take place beginning at 6:15 p.m. April 13 at Bottle Works—Arts on Third Avenue in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood.
“(Last year’s) turnout exceeded our expectations for sure,” said Giuffre, the percussionist for indie band The Ne'er Do Wells; Giuffre’s band is one of three that will perform at this event.
The other bands on the line-up are Essential Machine and Black Cat Moan.
“Last year, we decided we wanted to showcase bands that play and write a majority of original music,” Giuffre said. “There’s tons of 'original' talent out there that needs to be showcased. That said, last year and this year are 'original heavy' bands.”
Black Cat Moan plays “groove-rooted blues” music. Band members include T.K. Mundok on harp and vocals; “Saint” George Byich on guitar and resonator; Robert Bonsell on drums and Brad Jamison on bass. The band is influenced by artists such as Mississippi John Hurt, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Howling Wolf and more.
“Black Cat Moan absolutely kill what they do,” Giuffre said. “Between George's guitar playing and T.K.'s stage presence, they truly are second to none in this region. They've recently added a drummer and bass player, which makes them even better. I'm excited to play with these guys.”
The Ne’er Do Wells blends a variety of genres, including folk, bluegrass, punk rock and Americana, just to name a few. Members are vocalist Sonya Giuffre; lead guitarist Adam Milkovich; guitarist Mike Giuffre; bassist Leo Drager’s and Giuffre.
Speaking on behalf of The Ne’er Do Wells, Giuffre said: “We absolutely love playing in Johnstown, and being an original band, there's not too many venues that cater to that. We're also proud to be part of such a great fundraiser due to the sheer fact that it's helping the Women's Help Center. Lastly, any time we can share a stage with such talent as Black Cat Moan and The Essential Machine, we'll take it.”
Essential Machine, of Greensburg, is a trio consisting of a husband, wife, and their son. Karen and R.J. Dietrich put out their first record in 2009, and, in 2014, their son Robert joined their band as keyboardist. The band’s latest record, “Wildfires,” comes out this month, and they’re scheduled to play AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival this summer.
“Essential Machine is on the Flood City Music Festival line-up and rightfully so,” Giuffre said. “The last time I saw these folks, I said, ‘They will be headlining big stages in the next five years,’ and I stand by that. I've never heard a three-piece band sound as full and powerful as Essential Machine. As with Black Cat Moan, I feel honored to share a stage with them. It's going to be a great night of music. Three amazing bands under one roof.”
Giuffre is being assisted with planning this show by employees from The Women’s Help Center, as well as family members and friends.
“Many friends and family members are doing a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ prepping so we can concentrate on the music the day of the event,” he said.
The benefit concert is BYOB with a valid ID. Snacks are to be provided. Doors are to open at 6:15 p.m. Black Cat Moan is to take the stage at 7 p.m., followed by The Ne'er Do Wells and Essential Machine. Each band is to play approximately 45 minutes, and the show is scheduled to conclude at 11 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at the door. Attendees can opt to purchase a full-price ticket, or receive a discount on their tickets by bringing a donation of towels, paper towels, sheets, toiletries, canned goods and other similar items.
“The Women's Help Center does amazing things for both women and children in need, so any way we can support their effort, we will,” Giuffre said, adding that while there is no set monetary goal for this year’s event, any and all money raised will be happily accepted by The Women’s Help Center to help end domestic violence and to provide services to women, including emergency shelter and legal advocacy.
“Anything raised is great,” Giuffre said. “Our realistic goal is just to have a good turnout and have everyone there have a great time and leave with a smile on their face knowing that they helped out how they could.”