Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: Country music's Swon Brothers ready for Great Allentown Fair

Brothers Zach and Colton Swon are pretty busy nowadays, touring the states and working alongside such country music artists as Hunter Hayes, Miranda Lambert and Thomas Rhett. But make no mistake, these siblings are creating perfect harmonies of their own and accumulating quite a fan base along the way since being finalists on Season 4 of NBC's "The Voice." They'll be stopping in the Lehigh Valley on Saturday, when they open at night for country singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Hunter Hayes at the 162nd Great Allentown Fair at the Allentown Fairgrounds.

The Swon (pronounced Swan) Brothers – Zach, 29, and Colton, 26 – who, by the way, are bachelors, were no strangers to the stage when they chose to perform "American Girl" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for their blind audition on "The Voice" in the spring of 2013. The vocal and instrumental duo with outstanding harmonies and personalities to match turned the chairs of judges Blake Shelton, Shakira, and Usher and joined Team Blake, where they remained for the rest of the season and finished in third place. They went further in the competition than any other duo in the show's history.

A recording contract for the Swon Brothers with Arista Nashville followed with the December release of their first single, "Later On," from their major-label debut album, produced by Mark Bright (Carrie Underwood, Sara Evans) and set for release later this year.

"We grew up on a tour bus singing southern gospel from church to church," explained Colton, who, together with Zach, made a conference call last week from West Palm Beach, Florida, for this interview. They were performing that evening in an outdoor concert at CityPlaza.

The Swon Brothers already made their Grand Ole Opry debut this past April when they performed "Later On" and their tribute song, "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes," to the late George Jones. They performed the tribute live on "The Voice" in May 2013, when they were in the top 12. They stuck to their country roots later that month when they sang Steve Young's "Seven Bridges Road" as a tribute to victims of the Oklahoma tornado.

"We had no choice, we were born into it," Colton chuckled as he described how his parents converted a coach bus into a tour bus so the foursome could leave their home base of Muskogee, Oklahoma, to perform around the state.

Asked how this recording duo, featured in PEOPLE Country's issue of "Country's Sexiest Guys," maintains perfect harmony while touring, he cited how the Everly Brothers succeeded and said, "There's something about family harmony that's special. It's cool."

So what can Allentown fans expect when the Swon Brothers roll into town?

"We'll be playing some new stuff and some that we performed on 'The Voice,'" Zach said. "We want to get the crowd involved. There'll be a lot of energy. We love entertaining. And we'll poke fun of each other, as well."

It's a fact that Colton was in the top 48 of season 7 of Fox-TV's "American Idol," though he called it "a fluke thing" when he auditioned at a Texas stadium sporting "a Bart Simpson hairdo." Auditioning for "The Voice" was a much smoother experience.

"We didn't know how we'd do as a duo," he recalled. "Our coach Blake wasn't even so sure how America would react to us."

As for having Blake Shelton as a coach, Colton said, "What you see is what you get. He's a genuine individual, a great friend who's in our corner."

How would the Swon Brothers like Lehigh Valley fans to leave Saturday's concert?

"We hope they enjoyed the show," Colton said. "We want them to walk away like they know us a little better. We want to know them and want them to realize how grateful we are for their support. Without them, we don't have a career."

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The Tony Award-winning comedy, "The 39 Steps," by Alfred Hitchcock opens Friday through Sept. 7 at the Genesius Theatre, 153 N. 10th St., Reading. The play, adapted by Patrick Barlow, is directed by L J Fecho, Genesius' artistic director. The production is based on an original concept by Simon Corbie and Nobby Dimon and on the book by John Buchan.

"The 39 Steps" is loaded with references to famous Hitchcock films, plus slapstick and a gripping spy plot when hapless hero Richard Hannay, who's led a pretty hum-drum existence, finds himself fleeing from the wrongful accusation of murder through a series of improbable adventures as he's pursued by the authorities.

The cast includes James Haggerty as Richard Hannay, Julie Elberfeld as Anabella Schmitt and Pamela, and Caleb Seip and Brandon Reimer, who portray more than 100 characters each. Sets are by John Bigos, costumes by Cathy Miller, and lighting by Spencer Moss Fecho.

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Bucks County painter Todd Stone kicks off the "Artists Among Us" residency program at SteelStacks in Bethlehem on Saturday as he showcases his works documenting the rebirth of the World Trade Center after 9/11. The internationally-renowned artist will present "Downtown Rising – Studies in Resilience," through Oct. 12 in the Alvin H. Butz Gallery on the second floor of the ArtsQuest Center, 101 Founders Way.

Stone's residency is the first in the residency series designed to showcase the acclaimed artists living and working in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding region. In addition to the exhibition, Stone will present a free gallery talk and two screenings of
"Witness Downtown Rising Renga," a documentary chronicling the experience of when a group of celebrated poets were invited to Stone's studio on the 48th floor of the new 7 World Trade Center on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attack to respond to the tragedy in verse.

Stone was living and working in New York City in 2001 when he saw first-hand the tragic events that unfolded. Following the initial shock and devastation, he returned to what he knew best, picking up his paintbrush and documenting on canvas the terrible changes and the massive hole in the New York City skyline. He since has followed and captured the rebuilding process in downtown Manhattan. In November 2012, he had his new studio on the 67th floor of the new 4 World Trade Center, made possible by the support of the developers, Silverstein Properties.

Upcoming artists for Artists Among Us include Marvel Comics and DC Comics illustrator Scott Hanna, renowned designer and past "Project Runway" participant Pamela Ptak, and first African-American to anchor a national network news program, Melba Tolliver.

"Witness Downtown Rising Renga" will be shown on Sept. 15 at 7 p.m., at the Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas at SteelStacks, when Stone will present an artist's talk. Reservations must be made in advance by contacting Lauren McAloon at

On Sept. 28 at 4 p.m., a ticketed screening of the documentary will feature a poetry reading and talk by Bowery Poetry Club poets, including founder Bob Holman, with Nikhil Melnechuk, Quincy Troupe, Margret Porter Troupe and Tahani Salah.

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The Ronald K. DeLong Gallery at Penn State Lehigh Valley in Center Valley presents the exhibit, "Greg Weaver: Urban American Folk Artist," beginning Tuesday through Dec. 12. A reception is slated for Oct. 2 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Weaver, of Allentown, graduated from Penn State with a degree in political science but followed his passion at Carnegie Mellon University, where he earned a degree in painting. His life was cut short at age 49, when he succumbed to complications from diabetes. Weaver had trained himself to paint by seeing with his hands. The exhibit will include a diverse body of his work, including geometric studies and popular cow portraits, many which have never been exhibited.

A special auction of Weaver's exhibited work will be held Dec. 12 at 6 p.m.

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