Jay Smar and Van Wagner teaming up for show next week

ANSONIA — On Friday, Aug. 3 from 8 to 10 p.m., Jay Smar of Landingsville and Van Wagner of Danville, two award-winning Pennsylvania musicians, will be playing at the Burnin’ Barrel at the Ansonia Valley Inn, 5440 U.S. Route 6.

“Jay and I have been friends since 1996 when I first heard him play at a small folk music club,” said Wagner. “We both performed a set of songs that night. I was blown away by his authenticity and focus on heritage. Over the years, we’ve played at the same music festivals and heritage events but the Bunin’ Barrel will be the first time ever we will be playing an entire evening of live music in a sit-down tavern setting,” Wagner said.

“Jay is truly a music treasure. I’m looking forward to this,” said Wagner who teaches environmental science at Lewisburg High School. Outside the classroom, Wagner writes songs about Pennsylvania life and history and performs them on his guitar. He is well known in this area having presented programs and his music at Hills Creek State Park, Earth Day at the Mill Cove Environmental Area in April for the past two years and at Hickory Fest each August since it began.

“Jay has been playing live music in the coal region since the 1960s. I grew up in Montour County and started playing folk music in the 1990s,” Wagner said.

Smar, is a native of Coaldale comes from a family of coal miners. Armed with two guitars, a claw-hammer banjo and fiddle, this full-time musician serves his audiences an “acoustic buffet.” A baritone, he sings traditional American and original folk, old time mountain music, bluegrass and gospel tunes as well as coal mining songs of Northeast Pennsylvania. He also does flat-footing, a form of clog dancing. On Aug. 4, Smar will be entertaining those attending the Woodsmen Show at Cherry Springs State Park, near Galeton.

“I will be playing some of my songs like ‘Churches and Bars,’ ‘Crosscut Saw’ and ‘North of 80,'” said Wagner. “And, Jay will play some of his. On one of his great coal mining songs, ‘I am an Old Coal Miner,’ Jay plays fiddle. I’ve always wanted to back him up on guitar. I am hoping to get to do that,” Wagner said.