Fundraiser helps send musicians to Memphis

KATELYN HIBBARD/Sun-Gazette Above, the Twin Sinners, made up by Stacia Abernatha, of Williamsport, and Allen Combs II, of Bloomsburg, kicked off the annual Fall Into the Blues fundraising event on Saturday. The Twin Sinners are one of three bands that will go to Memphis, Tennessee, in January to compete in the International Blues Challenge.

The Genetti Hotel was a-rockin’ Saturday night as Fall Into the Blues brought at least 200 blues music lovers together to support the Billtown Blues Association.

With five different acts, merchandise for sale, a silent auction and more, there were plenty of reasons to dance the night away. Three of the five performers are heading to Memphis, Tennessee, in January to compete in the International Blues Challenge — some of the

funds raised will help the musicians get there, said Bonnie Tallman, association secretary.

“This is an important fundraiser for people going to Memphis, and it’s turned out really well so far,” said Bill VanCampen, association president. “It looks like a big night.”

Duo Stacia Abernatha and Allan Combs II form The Twin Sinners, both talented vocalists who are skilled with multiple instruments. The pair have held several fundraising shows to help them get to Memphis and couldn’t be more excited about the trip.

“Everyone has been so generous and enthusiastic,” Abernatha said. “We’ve had great turnouts to our fundraisers.”

Abernatha said they are looking forward to meeting and playing alongside like-minded musicians in Memphis.

Jeff Fetterman Band is another group heading down south for the competition, which will include about 250 blues acts from around the world. Fronted by Jeff Fetterman, who sings and plays guitar, the band also features John McGuire on drums, bassist Ralph Reitinger III and guitarist Eric Brewer.

The band is excited to explore Memphis culture and network with other musicians. At this point, performing in front of other people is second nature, but the competition adds a nerve-wracking edge to things, Reitinger said.

“We just gotta go out and do what we can do,” Fetterman said.

The youngest group of the night, and possibly the youngest to compete in the challenge next year, was the 3rd Street Blues Band, formed by students from the Uptown Music Collective ranging from ages 14 through 17. With Izzy Brumbaugh on the keyboard, guitarists Justin Warrender and Cade Palmatier, vocalist Alexis Carnevale, vocalist and bassist Shayne Williams and Tate Berkey on the drums, the full band performs a variety of covers.

Williams said the band came together because each member had an interest in the blues. After a year and a half of performing together, she said she’s excited to keep going.

“Not a lot of kids play the blues,” she said. “I’m interested in all types of music … I want to broaden my horizons with my bass playing and my singing. I’ve learned a lot from the blues.”

Jared Mondell, assistant executive director of the music collective, said the band has been working hard to prepare for the competition and will continue to put together fundraisers and other events.

“To use a blues cliche, they’ve been paying their dues,” he said.