Uptown Music Collective to raise funds with tribute to Chicago & Friends

At 7:30 p.m. Jan. 19, the Uptown Music Collective will take the stage at the Community Arts Center for one night only to pay tribute to the group ranked No. 9 on Billboards list of the 100 greatest artists of all time — the rock group Chicago.

The concert, titled “25 Or 6 To 4: The Music of Chicago & Friends” will bring together two generations of local musicians. The young musicians of the Uptown Music Collective, performing alongside UMC Alumni, Staff, and the powerful soulful sound of the horn section from regional legends Daddy-O and the Sax Maniax. Together, they will bring to life the classic rock and soul hits of Chicago, Blood Sweat and Tears, Earth Wind and Fire and more.

This will be the Collective’s annual fundraiser show which raises funds for Scholarships and Program Support for the nonprofit school of music.

There are very few traditional instruments that can compete side-by-side with the power of an electric guitar. The horn, however, which was originally used to convey orders over the din of the battlefield, easily holds its own on the rock stage. This natural pairing of horns and rock goes back to the genres earliest groups. Where horn sections were an important ingredient in many of the songs that helped the genre find widespread popularity. Ultimately leading to the incredible success of groups like Chicago, who during their 50-year career have sold 100 million records worldwide, scoring 20 top ten singles, and five consecutive number one albums.

Chicago was formed in 1967 in Chicago, Illinois. They originally called themselves the Chicago Transit Authority before shortening the name in 1969. The self-described “rock and roll band with horns” began writing politically charged rock music, and later moved to a softer sound, generating several hit ballads. The group, which continues to perform today, had a steady stream of hits throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Including the songs “25 or 6 to 4,” “Saturday in the Park,” “Color My World” and “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is.”

At around the same time, another group was forming in New York City that would come to be known as Blood Sweat and Tears. Intended as a fusion of Rock, Jazz and R&B, Blood Sweat and Tears would also go on to find widespread success with songs like the No. 1 hit “Spinning Wheel,” “You Make Me So Very Happy” and their cover of “God Bless the Child.” Alongside Chicago and Blood Sweat and Tears, the students of the Uptown Music Collective will also perform songs by R&B heavyweights Earth Wind and Fire, and the Tower of Power. Both of these groups are known for their funky grooves and hip horn arrangements. To round out the concert “25 or 6 to 4” will also feature a short tribute to the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin.

The horn section for “25 Or 6 To 4” will be comprised of Rob Byham (trumpet), Mike Pryor (saxophone), and Todd Hunter (trombone). The three have alongside one another for over twenty years as the horn section for the group Daddy-O and the Sax Maniax, known throughout Northeastern PA as “President Clinton’s favorite band.” As part of the band, they performed at many high profile events, including both of President Clinton’s inaugural celebrations, as well as opening for groups like Santana and the J. Giles Band.

“It’s such a great opportunity for our students to play this music with a professional horn section that has spent many years performing this music,” said Dave Brumbaugh, Uptown Music Collective founder and executive director. “An Uptown Music Collective education is all about experiences like this, the confidence that it embeds in our students, and the appreciation they develop for diverse styles of music. I grew up listening to this music and I am excited to see it all come together. The fact that we are also raising money to support our school’s scholarships and programs is just icing on the cake.”

“25 Or 6 To 4: The Music of Chicago & Friends” will feature Collective students who have been diligently preparing for this event for over two months. Along with the live music, there will be a professional grade light and sound show organized by the students themselves. As with all Uptown Music Collective performances, the students are not only the performers but also direct the show. There is also a group of younger students, called “Tech Monkeys” who will serve as stage technicians and spotlight operators. The cast for the show is drawn from the Uptown Music Collective’s much heralded Special Performance Group 1. The students have set a goal to get 1000 people to see this one-night-only performance.

This show is produced by UMC Alum, Alexis Best and is directed by Uptown Music Collective Senior, Tate Berkey (Danville Area H.S.) and Junior, Cade Palmatier (Jersey Shore H.S.), along with a leadership committee that includes UMC students Leah Batman, Izzy Brumbaugh (WAHS), Alexis Carnevale (WAHS), Molly Chapman (Montoursville Area H.S.), Andrew Head (Montoursville Area H.S.), Cece Lutz (WAHS), Kenni Powell (Jersey Shore H.S.), Julia Sauers and Eli Wilk (WAHS).

“Chicago, Earth Wind & Fire, and Blood Sweat and Tears are bands I have never closely listened to, but I instantly loved their music,” said Ashlyn Bird, 17, Williamsport Area High School. “The simple yet beautiful melodies, complex, thick chords, and the interesting lyrics drew me in. The parts I have been learning on the piano have allowed me to better train my ear when working out the many, many chords and rhythms. I am looking forward to working with the live horn players and interacting with the UMC Alumni during the performance.”