Renowned banjo player makes VOMA debut
BY KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent
The Gina Furtado Project, fronted by International Bluegrass Music Association's Banjo Player of the Year two-time nominee Gina Furtado, is coming to Venue of Merging Arts Nov. 23 as part of the venue’s annual Folk and Bluegrass Series.
“Gina played in the area a few years back at the Windber Bluegrass Festival, when she was a member of another band, but this will be her first appearance at VOMA,” said Folk and Bluegrass Series organizer Micah Mood. “I didn't realize just how serious Gina's reputation is as a banjo player, but her recent nomination — her second — for IBMA Banjo Player of the Year, reminded me. A great banjo player I know said that playing a song live with Gina was one of the few times he had felt kind of awed or intimidated by sitting in with another banjo player.”
In addition to playing banjo, Furtado also sings and writes her own songs. She began her career touring up and down the East Coast with her siblings. Years later, she joined Chris Jones and the Night Drivers and toured with them before putting her focus on The Gina Furtado Project.
Furtado’s first album, “True Colors,” debuted at No. 13 on Bluegrass Billboard Charts. Her latest, "I Hope You Have a Good Life,” was released just two months ago, and it debuted at No. 6.
For this performance, Furtado will be joined onstage by Max Johnson on bass; Drew Matulich on guitar; and Malia Furtado on fiddle.
“I hope that she and the band have heard good things about VOMA and the bluegrass audience in Johnstown, so I hope that they're excited,” Mood said.
The show will be held inside Club VOMA, a venue known for its intimate atmosphere.
“Club VOMA is a great place for music,” Mood said, “and bands seem to always enjoy both the energy of the audience and the sound in the room. The volunteers set the room up nicely, with tablecloths and candles, and we have the lights dimmed for a nice intimate atmosphere during the shows.
“I've said before that while I enjoy seeing bands at festivals, or at bigger venues, particularly with bluegrass, it's just such a great back porch feeling to be sitting a few feet away as great players and singers perform. There really isn't a bad seat in the house.”
Doors for the all-ages, BYOB show are to open at 6:30 p.m. Special guests Les Hunter Band is to take the stage at 7 p.m.
“I've really enjoyed Les Hunter Band's sets, and I think that their style, being a bit more classic-and-outlaw country, will be a nice contrast with the Gina Furtado Project's sound,” Mood said.
Tickets for this concert are on sale now and can be purchased by visiting www.thevoma.com/tickets. Tickets will also be available at the door that evening.
For more information about The Gina Furtado project, visit the band’s official website at www.ginaclowesbanjo.com.
“I really hope folks will make it out for this one,” Mood said.