Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: New Year's Eve will be rockin' with kid-friendly StarFish at SteelStacks

When Ray Leone wasn't satisfied with the rock band he brought his then eight-year-old daughter, Emma, to hear, he decided to take action and start his own. He approached friend Dave Hartkern, also a dad, and recruited three other fellow musicians from the Maplewood, Essex Co., N.J., area to form "a real authentic rock band that would be kid-friendly." That band would be known as StarFish.

Lehigh Valley kids and parents can experience the real rock music of StarFish at the New Year's Eve party on Tuesday at SteelStacks in Bethlehem, where StarFish will perform at 4 p.m., at the Levitt Pavilion. It's all part of the family entertainment lined up for the annual two-day PEEPSFEST that begins Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Following StarFish's Tuesday performance will be the PEEPS Chick Drop and a fireworks display at 5:15 p.m.

If StarFish strikes a familiar tune, that's because the group has been in Musikfest's lineup of children's entertainment and in ArtsQuest's Peas & Qs series. Leone said the group will be appearing at Musikfest 2014 on Aug. 3, performing its off-shoot, acoustic "Beatles and Bubblegum" show.

According to Leone, guitarist and lead vocalist, the New Year's Eve performance will feature original songs as well as "fun songs" and classic rock since its music influences include The Beatles, Tom Petty, and Phish. There also will be plenty of audience participation with singing, dancing and playing air guitar on stage.

"Parents get the opportunity to share a real rock concert experience with their kids," Leone explained. "For the kids, it's ‘Rock 101' as we teach them how to enjoy a rock concert and encourage them to scream (when we call out home towns)."

StarFish, whose tagline is "The Greatest Rock Band in the World…for Kids and Families," aims to help kids develop an early appreciation for real rock music as it also entertains parents. Kids even learn about what an encore is at the end of a concert. Leone added that feedback has been positive from parents.

Along with Leone, whose band nickname is "StingRay," members of StarFish include: Hartkern aka "Grateful Dave," drummer and vocalist; Tom Lucas aka "Tommy Three-Tone," lead guitarist and vocalist; Mark Asch aka "Dr. Yes," keyboard player and vocalist, and Ed Iglewski aka "Eddie Van Vetter," bass guitarist who, according to Leone, fell in love with and relocated to Bethlehem about a year ago.

"Bethlehem is like our home away from home," Leone said. ‘We love coming out here and playing. It's a great music community."

Off stage, the members of StarFish are involved in music. Leone is pursuing graduate studies in music therapy at Montclair (N.J.) State University, Hartkern is director of operations at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, N.J., Asch is a high school music teacher in Jersey City, N.J., and Lucas and Iglewski run Laughing Boys, a commercial recording studio in South Orange, N.J.

StarFish has two CD's influenced by classic rock and recorded on Whirl'd Records: "Rocks" and "Enter Sandbox." A third CD, "Master of Puppet Shows," is expected to be released in late January. The titles of the latter two were influenced by heavy metal band, Metallica, Leone added.

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A New Year's Eve celebration kicks off in Berks County on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., at the Santander Performing Arts Center as the Reading Symphony Orchestra takes on The Beatles, performing the 1967 classic album, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Joining the orchestra will be Jeans ‘n Classics, recognized as "expert rockologists."

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Easton-based Sing for America will present Victor Herbert's holiday classic, "Babes in Toyland" beginning tonight at 7 through Sunday at the Charles A. Brown Ice House, 56 River St., Bethlehem. It's a spin on the classic Christmas tale of the March of the Wooden Soldiers. Director of the family show is Taryn Gilbert, one of five siblings who formed Sing for America some years back. Costume design is by Teara Gilbert. Productions raise monies for Blue Star Mothers of the Lehigh Valley for military families. A basket raffle will be held at the performances.

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Twelve-Twenty Four, billed as "a resounding recreation of the great Trans-Siberian Orchestra," will perform tonight at 7:30, at the Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University in Bethlehem. According to its website, the group is now in its 12th season as "the Mid-Atlantic region's original and longest-running Trans-Siberian Orchestra-inspired rock orchestra." The performance includes a six-piece rock band, four-piece string section, six lead vocalists and an angel storyteller.

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Instructors and advanced students of the ArtsQuest Glass Studio have their fine glass art on exhibit through Monday at Santa Bannon/Fine Art at the Banana Factory, 25 W. 3rd St., Suite 93, Bethlehem. A variety of glass techniques in creating the work is displayed, including blown glass, slumping, fusing, flaming, cane work, murrine, hand-sculpting, and incalmo. Instructors are John Choi, Dennis Gardner, Dan Getz, Roy Gruver, Adem Sengal and Brian Toseland.

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Due to the recent snowstorm, Selkie Theatre has rescheduled its concert reading of Dylan Thomas' magical holiday tale, "A Child's Christmas in Wales," for Sunday at 3 p.m., at Anam Cara Farm, 2317 Minnich Road, South Whitehall Township. The intimate parlor performance to be held in the 1794 farmhouse is directed by George B. Miller. A dessert reception with the actors will follow.

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"Happy New Year!"


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