Friday, January 1, 2010

First Night in Oil City

We had a great time on First Night!

What is First Night? This from the First Night international website: A Community Celebration of the New Year through the Arts--First Night seeks to foster the public's appreciation of visual and performing arts through an innovative, diverse and high quality New Year's Eve program which provides a shared cultural experience, accessible and affordable to all.

Oil City does a great job with First Night. This is our second First Night and we weren't disappointed with the quality of the performers or the venues.

We started our New Year's Eve at 5pm on the Northside with Dinner at the Yellow Dog Lantern Restaurant with friends.. the Yellow Dog is a wonderful place to dine. The owner and wait staff are very friendly and the New Chef, Matt, does a great job with the old menu and with wonderful new specials...

After a wonderful dinner, we headed to the National Transit Building to join the Peoples Procession, but missed it...darn.

Since we hadn't been to the Derrick Deli to see the local artists work hung there, we headed over. Great Job and nice show. Looking forward to seeing more artists work next month!

From there we went to the Venango Museum ( to hear Scott Foppiano play the the Mighty Wurlitzer--a 1928 Wurlitzer Theater Organ. Wow! That was so much fun to watch the drums play and the bells jingle all from a keyboard 20 feet away! And Scott is a virtuoso on the Mighty Wurlitzer!

Next was the Trinity United Methodist Church where we had the pleasure of seeing Caranicas+2, a great threesome with Charlie Caranicas playing the trumpet with Jesse Gelber-piano & vocals and Kate Manning-vocals. Great Performance from this 3 piece band with a Vaudeville Jazz that was very entertaining!

At this point, we decided it was time to venture over the bridge to the Southside to see the Calypso Gypsies. The walk over the bridge was quick but chilly and as we passed by the front of the Carnegie Oil City Library, they had just started to build a very big bonfire in the square there.. once at the Grace United Methodist Church we realized that the Calypso Gypsies had packed the house to overflowing-we couldn't even get in the door to catch a glimpse! What we heard from the hallway steps sounded great, so hopefully we can catch them some other time.

So, off we headed to the Calvary United Methodist Church to see the The Reings. Fiddle, guitar, banjo, hammer dulcimer and clog dancing. This husband/wife team was very entertaining and we enjoyed the Appalachian music.

Next, we went to the Masonic Hall to see Neil Jacobs play the 12-string guitar....WOW!!! Neal is unbelievable in his style and choice of songs. We loved him and hated to have to leave and go to the next venue.

Our next musical treat was back across the bridge to the Northside to return to the Trinity United Methodist Church where we had the honor to be mesmerized by the Ortner-Roberts Duo. Suzanne Ortner plays the clarinet and her husband Tom Roberts, plays the Piano. This was a special treat! I purchased their CD entitled A Trip to America-A Yiddish/Creole Fusion. So, if you can imagine that, you will understand what I mean by a special treat!

On to the National Transit Bld, where we took in the last concert of 2009, Jim Haner on the Banjo. Great bluegrass music!

Our next stop was down to the Allegheny River and Justus Park for the countdown to midnite and the ensuing fireworks display. The fireworks are on a flatbed trailer up on the bridge and the display is quite wonderful, especially for a smaller town. We really enjoyed it.

Looking forward to the New Year in Oil City!