Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: Mountain Folk Opry variety show on main stage at Kutztown Folk Festival

A variety show modeled after the Grand Ole Opry, hosted by Berks County musician Dave Kline, is coming to the main stage of the 65th Kutztown Folk Festival. "The Mountain Folk Opry" is a two-hour, traditional variety show featuring live music and various entertainers who will be performing during the festival's nine-day run, beginning Saturday at the Kutztown Fairgrounds.

Aside from hosting the Mountain Folk Opry nightly from 6 to 8, Kline will be performing main stage at the popular hoe down with Lester Miller from noon to 5 p.m.

"The opry will be an assortment of talent that's already at the festival," Kline explained. "It will be fast-paced, high-energy entertainment, including a visit from the Belsnickel, an auctioneer, and the liars contest."

A longtime performer at the Kutztown Folk Festival, Kline sings as well as plays his custom handmade Martin D45 acoustic guitar as East Side Dave and the Mountain Folk Band. The singer-songwriter also is producer and host of the weekly "Mountain Folk Radio Show" on WEEU 830 AM. In 2010, the Berks Arts Council presented Kline with the Pagoda Award for Excellence in the Arts in the county.

Kline promises plenty of clapping, singing and yodeling under the Kutztown Folk Festival tent when he leads his Mountain Folk Yodeling University "class." Instead of the traditional diploma, graduates will receive a special T-shirt.

"Playing Kutztown is like a family reunion," Kline said. "There are families whose children are now grown and bringing their own families. It's just a time of great, wholesome family entertainment."

Members of the Mountain Folk Band include Bob Entler, mandolin and vocals; Travis Wetzel, fiddle and vocals; Mike Hertzog, five-string banjo and vocals, and Rich Freese, bass fiddle.

Once the Kutztown Folk Festival comes to a close, Kline and his band will be off to Germany to perform at the 600-plus-year-old Schwortag Festival in Reutlingen, one of Reading's sister cities. Then it's back to the states for a performance on Aug. 15 on the main stage of the annual Kutztown Fair. On Sept. 20, the Mountain Folk Band joins a daylong lineup of bluegrass entertainers for the second annual Victory BrewGrass Fest at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, also known as the Lehigh Valley Velodrome, in Breinigsville. The next day, Kline leads a group sing-along of Swing Low Sweet Chariot with The Roys and others at the 31st annual Lyons Fiddle Festival. Kline also added there'll be a new CD release, "My Pennsylvania Home," in the fall.

This year's Kutztown Folk Festival, recognized as the oldest folklife festival in the country and in the celebration of Pennsylvania Dutch culture, is different from all others of its past with newly expanded hours from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Half-price admission is being offered daily after 5 p.m. Closing will be at 5 p.m. on the final day, July 6.

The festival features a wide variety of Pennsylvania Dutch foods, more than 200 nationally recognized, juried folk artists and traditional American craftsmen, more than 2,500 locally hand-made quilts on display and for sale, antiques and collectibles, five stages of entertainment, music and dancing, and a wide range of children's activities.

Location of the Kutztown Fairgrounds is 225 N. Whiteoak St., Kutztown.

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Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra's Valley Vivaldi summer chamber music series continues with uplifting and intimate classical music by its principal musicians. Sunday's concert at 7:30 p.m. includes works by Vivaldi, J.S. Bach, Telemann, Handel and Leclair, with featured solos by Frances Duffy, harp; Robin Kani, flute, and Mary Ogletree, violin. The concert will be held at Christ Lutheran Church, 1245 W. Hamilton St., Allentown.

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Northampton Community College's Thomas Shillea has a photography exhibit at the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley beginning Wednesday and running through Sept. 28. "Platinum Visions: Photographs of Thomas John Shillea" captures a full range of human feeling, from the poetic and spiritual to the dramatic and sensual, but always with consistency of vision. Shillea, NCC's director of art programs, revived the 19th century printing process called the Platinotype that was popular with pictorial photographers such as Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen.

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Take advantage of the arts played against the backdrop of the great outdoors in our community parks this summer. Whether it be a band, movie or theater production, make it a point to be part of the action. And don't wait for the kids to get bored when the Lehigh Valley has such offers as: Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival's "Shakespeare for Kids" (July 23-Aug. 2) on the campus of DeSales University in Center Valley ; Doppelskope's "Gruff!" (through July 26) based on "Three Billy Goats Gruff" at Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre in Allentown, and Allentown Public Theatre's "The Jungle Book" (Aug. 8-17) at St. Luke's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Allentown.

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