Not long ago, the Jim Thorpe Earth Day Celebration (details here) was a decidedly local affair with vendors and activities in the downtown park. While the affair continues in its 23rd year connected to its local roots, it has begun to embrace a larger set of activities of interest to a broader set of people.
“We celebrated Earth Day long before it became hip again to do it,” says local shopkeeper and proprietor Shelly Holland of Horizons, a Grateful Dead store with everything from clothes and music to hula hoops.
Moya Restaurant owner Stephanie Verme noticed 3 years ago that business had taken a much larger turn for the better, with more adults in town and more cars in the county parking lot, to complement the earthier locals and visitors with whom the weekend has long been popular.
At the Opera House, located just up Broadway from the park, the festivities begin that Friday night, April 20 with a 2-band offering of world music, heretofore perhaps a bit unusual in these parts.
Mighty Mystic, a Reggae group whose leader was originally from Jamaica and is touring on the strength of their new album “Wake the World,” promises to offer something satisfying to all, while reinforcing an appropriate message for Earth Day.
“When I moved to Boston, I realized the North East region was very influenced by the hip hop scene of the early 90′s, and it also had a bubbling reggae market,” bandleader Mighty Mystic (formerly Kevin Holness) observed. “I wanted to hold on tight to my Jamaican reggae influences, even while living abroad. A huge part of my inspiration is directly linked to the teachings that my family instilled in me. They were beloved in our Jamaican community, for all their hard work, devotion and overall help onto others.”
But it’s only half the story that night. Co-billing is Funk Ark, another world music outfit from Washington, DC. Adulation for their sound has been considerable: “Mixing up a rocket fuel of Afrobeat and funk, this is a killer, uncut dose of pure bomb,” says Midwest Record, while Inside World Music raves, “Funky swagger and soul that is as unforgettable as it is unique.”
The Funk Ark is the creation of Will Rast, band pianist and spokesperson. “I turned my life over to The Funk in high school,” he says, and has been walking that walk ever since. “To me The Funk is linking all music – people like James Brown and the JBs, The Meters, Santana” and many others. Along with Mighty Mystic, it promises to be quite a night, and a remarkable way to begin the weekend.
It’s only $15 and half off for students!
Activities and vendors will crowd the Josiah White downtown park with free music, arts and crafts and food offerings. There will considerable live free music dispersed throughout town.
All the details can be found here.
The Earth Day theme is admirably continued that Saturday evening, 4/21, with Splintered Sunlight, a Grateful Dead tribute band from Philadelphia that has been working the East Coast for over 20 years. Lead by guitarist Butchy Kochorow, Splintered brings 6 pieces to the stage, including the two-drum sound the Dead were known for. The sets vary considerably, but the main thing is their attention to detail, especially with the Dead classics.
Jim Thorpe in general is the sort of town that appeals to the curious visitor with unusual shops, and plenty of outdoor activities. Earth Day is one of the feature events of spring!