Musicians unite for public festival
Author Michele Jennae is credited with the quote, “Music is about more than connecting notes. It connects people.”
Her words seem to encapsulate the idea behind a growing tradition in Warren.
Warrenstock 2019 will be held on Tuesday, July 2, starting at 5 p.m. More than 30 local musicians will become members of the Allegheny River Monsters band for a day as they take turns on the stage performing 58 songs.
“Where else can you go see a five-hour rock show for free,” said the event’s mastermind, Warren-native Pat Hackett.
It turns out all you have to do is bring a lawn chair, maybe a cooler packed with a few beverages, and some money to buy food, and show up at Pellegrino’s Italian Market outside venue at 449 Conewango Ave., Warren.
This is the second year for Warrenstock to be held at the 10-acre venue along Conewango Creek.
“It’s about giving back to the community and coming home to Warren to make memories,” Hackett said.
“It’s all about love, friendship, family, enjoying each other, hometown camaraderie and just having a really good time reconnecting with old and new friends and playing awesome music,” said band member Joan Buck.
Warrenstock 2019 is connecting and reconnecting 30 musicians — many who grew up locally and some who have moved away. Hackett travels here each year from southern California. Other musicians are traveling back home from Maryland, New York, the Carolinas, and other states, according to Hackett.
The Allegheny River Monsters is made up of members of all ages. Hackett speculated the oldest band member might be sixty-something. The youngest members are in their teens, but started performing when they were still single digits.
Lilly Branthoover, of Warren, started performing with the band five years ago, according to Hackett. “She’s still singing with us,” he said. “She’s a teenager now.”
An assortment of band members brings an assortment of musical genres, especially when the performers select the songs they want to perform.
This year’s 30-member band is made up of 15 vocalists, eight guitarists, four percussionists and three people who rock the bass guitar, according to Hackett. Last fall, the band members started submitting song lists to Hackett.
“I ask everyone months in advance and take an inventory in the fall,” he said. “Then I boil those hundreds of songs down to about 50.” This year will be the longest performance yet with a total 58 songs performed. Those songs include a wide variety of genres.
Each musician practices the songs on their own until just prior to the Warrenstock event. The band members then get together for just two rehearsals before taking the stage. There were no rehearsals the first time Hackett joined some friends to play in Warren in 2011.
“I had to come back in 2011 to bury my dad,” he said. “While I was home I got the idea to play a few songs at a friend’s bar.” Within a couple weeks, Hackett had people asking to sit in with him.
The gathering got too big for a bar so some friends suggested they set up on Liberty Street and make it a street party. “We had 14 people that year,” he said. “Everybody loved it. We said ‘let’s do this again.'”
In 2012, the band grew to 22 people for the event, according to Hackett. “From 2013 to 2015 we held it at the former Holiday Inn,” he said. “We had 26 performers that year.”
After two years off, the event officially became Warrenstock last year. This is the second year Warrenstock will be held at Pellegrino’s venue.
“It’s the perfect venue,” Hackett said. “It’s built like a natural amphitheater.” The 10-acre property offers a stage next to the creek, ample yard space for seating and a covered pavilion.
Hackett estimated 600 or more people attended last year. He, and other band members, expect higher attendance this year.
“We plan to do big things,” he said.