Hot Club Sandwich featured in Johnstown Concert Series finale
BY KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent
The final concert of the 2018-2019 Johnstown Concert Series season will bring to town jazz string band Hot Club Sandwich.
The performance, scheduled to take place beginning at 7:30 p.m. May 18, is to take place inside First Presbyterian Church, located at 309 Lincoln Street in downtown Johnstown.
The Seattle-based band features Johnstown native Tim Wetmiller on violin; Ray Wood on guitar; Kevin Connor on guitar; Matt Sircely on mandolin; James Schneider on bass and Joseph Mascorella on drums.
“The band has quite a unique sound,” said Johnstown Concert Series board member Bill Brice. “The audience should enjoy hearing their favorite jazz tunes played with only strings.”
The core of the band — Wetmiller, Wood and Sirecly — will be making their way to Johnstown for this performance. They’ll be joined onstage by bassist John Bagnato of Pittsburgh.
Hot Club Sandwich was founded on a college campus in Olympia, Washington, two decades ago. The band members were all interested in playing music in the style of Django Reinhart, who founded Hot Club of France in 1934, said Jim Richey, Wetmiller’s stepfather.
“The music style was unique at that time,” Richey said. “It was a form of jazz/swing featuring all string instruments. Django wrote over 100 songs and influenced every jazz musician since the 1930s.”
This past February, Hot Club Sandwich released their fifth album, “No Pressure.” Recorded in old boarding house on the Olympic Peninsula, the band welcomed David Grisman (described by the band as a “master mandolinist”) as a special guest performer.
It has been quite a while since Hot Club Sandwich played in Johnstown; Richey said they appeared on the line-up on what is now known as AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival in 2002 and again in 2004.
Richey added that his stepson is looking forward to playing in Johnstown once again.
In addition to Hot Club Sandwich, Wetmiller also plays in the bluegrass bands Dysfunction Junction and the Neighborhood Boys, plus traditional Latin music with Los Flacos.
Tickets for Hot Club Sandwich’s performance may be purchased in advance online at www.johnstownmusic.org. Tickets can also be purchased at the door that evening.
Brice said this concert will be a great way to conclude what he described as another successful season of bringing high-quality chamber music to downtown.
“Each year, we try to provide our audience with a good evening of jazz music, and this year is no exception,” he said. “Our final concert by the Hot Club Sandwich string group will certainly offer an evening of wonderful music, and this music is quite different from anything we've had before. It should prove to be all the more interesting and enjoyable for that reason.”
As one season ends, Brice and his board members are already preparing for the next one to begin. Brice confirmed that the 2019-2020 season is nearing completion. Pittsburgh Concert Society Major Audition Winners, Altoona Brass Collective, Chatham University Chorale and Three Rivers Sax Group all appear on the 2019-2020 season schedule.
“It is shaping up to be another very memorable season of great music for our Johnstown area audience, all offered at a very reasonable price,” Brice said.