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FAC sponsors Drive-In Concert

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

The Fine Arts Center (FAC) for the New River Valley marked the (symbolic) beginning of summer by throwing a party in the form of a Drive-In Concert featuring The Groove Houndz band.

The Drive-In Concert, which was one of the first group events planned this year, was conceived when COVID related restrictions were in full effect. For this reason, those attending the performance were invited to view the concert from the comfort of their vehicles or from a lawn chair placed alongside their rides.

The Drive-In Concert took place in the Maple Shade Plaza parking lot in front of the Raymond F. Ratcliffe Memorial Transportation Museum. The Groove Houndz set up their own stage near the corner of Washington Ave and Commerce Drive. The concert area within the lot was marked off by bright orange traffic cones.

After a sound check, John Ross, President of the FAC, welcomed those who came to hear the music and support the Center. This concert was held as a benefit for the FAC and those attending were asked to give a $10 donation to hear the music. Bob Piscura and Steve Novak of the Groove Hounds did their part by playing the concert for free. They began to play their eclectic mix of tunes at about 6 p.m. that evening.

Several vehicles crowded into the parking lot to hear the Groove Houndz but more music lovers would have been welcome. Attendance was likely limited due to the weather. Skies were overcast, there was a stiff breeze and temperatures were in the lower 50s.

For this reason, many Drive-In Concert attendees chose to stay in the comfort of their vehicles to watch the show, although several set up lawn chairs, as well. As restrictions had been relaxed, concert goers mingled with volunteers from the FAC and the Ratcliffe Transportation Museum, who were gathering donations and moving traffic cones throughout the event.

About 25 minutes into the show, the Groove Houndz Bob Piscura, called called 13-year-old Tyler Simpkins on to the stage.

Tyler is a member of the Greater Pulaski Junior Appalachian Musicians (GRAPeJAM), which is part of the Junior Appalachian Musician (JAM) program. The JAM program teaches kids how to play traditional Appalachian music with traditional Appalachian instruments.

Tyler Simpkins decided that he wanted to learn how to play the banjo. GRAPeJAM supplied him with the banjo and lessons. After the program temporarily shut down due to COVID restrictions, Tyler kept taking private banjo lessons.

As a result of his dedication, Tyler was able to play a few banjo tunes for those gathered. The end of each song garnered much applause. Tyler’s debut was so successful that The Groove Houndz called him up to perform a second time before the concert ended.

Since this was a concert sponsored by the Fine Art Center for the NRV, a blank canvas was set up on an easel and concert goers were invited to add a few brush strokes to this collaborative artwork. Many of those attending added to this work of art and then strolled over to the Donna Surber’s Food Services for a snack.

The Drive-In Concert ended about 8 o’clock.

Macy Ann Herndon (Bob Piscura’s granddaughter) dances to the music of the Groove Houndz as Debbie Piscura (Bob’s wife) looks on.

The Groove Houndz were the featured act at the FAC’s Drive in Concert
From left: Bob Piscura and Steve Novak

Several of those is attendance at the Drive-In Concert added their artist input to this newly created work of art.

Young Tyler Simpkins played a few tunes on his banjo between Groove Houndz sets.

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