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There are a lot of reasons to come to Jim Thorpe, PA for New Year’s 2013-2014 festivities. Ranging from special dinners at local restaurants to a send-off to 2013 at the Opera House, we have plenty for you to do. We’ll keep updating this page so check back often!

The Inn at Jim Thorpe   24 Broadway   800-329-2599

Ring in the New Year at our charming, historic hotel and enjoy a scrumptious New Year’s Eve meal with Champagne and live music at our new Broadway Grille & Pub. Package includes:  2 night stay, special New Year’s Eve dinner at the Broadway Grille, live music by Steve Brosky & Jimmy Meyer in the pub, $7 voucher for breakfast each morning at the Broadway Grille, noon check-out and all taxes.  Prices start at just $259 per person, based on double occupancy.

Broadway Grille and Pub    24 Broadway   570.743.4343

Special New Year’s Eve Dinner – Includes appetizer, salad, choice of entrée, dessert and glass of Champagne. See web site for full menu.  $75 per person, plus tax & gratuity. Reservations strongly encouraged. Live music by Steve Brosky & Jimmy Meyer in the pub, 8-11 pm.

The Mauch Chunk Opera House     14 W Broadway   570-325-0249

Canada’s Tartan Terrors visit for what promises to be a terrific party. One of Jim Thorpe’s favorite Celtic musical/comedy acts, The Tartan Terrors always deliver a great time. Click here for more info.

Tartan Terrors in Jim Thorpe for New Year to bring in 2014

Rather than shopping at a big-box store this Saturday, November 29, 2014 – think about keeping it local or visiting Jim Thorpe to shop in a local business. You have the benefit of knowing that your money stays here in Jim Thorpe, and supports actual people that run businesses.

Check out JimThorpe.org’s business listings here. The following Small Business Saturday account is supplied by Wikipedia:

Small Business Saturday is an American shopping holiday held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving during one of the busiest shopping periods of the year. First observed on November 27, 2010, it is a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which feature big box retail and e-commerce stores respectively. By contrast, Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are small and local.

Small Business Saturday Jim ThorpeIn 2010 the holiday was conceived and promoted by American Express via a nationwide radio and television advertising campaign. That year Amex bought advertising inventory on Facebook, which it in turn gave to its small merchant account holders,[1] and also gave rebates to new customers to promote the event.[2][3]

American Express publicized the initiative using social media, advertising, and public relations. At least 41 [2] local politicians and many small business groups in the United States issued proclamations concerning the campaign,[4][5][6] which generated more than one million Facebook “like” registrations and nearly 30,000 tweets under the Twitter hashtags #smallbusinesssaturday (which had existed since early 2010) and #smallbizsaturday.[7]

The Twitter hashtag #SmallBusinessSaturday has existed since early 2010 and was used to promote small businesses on any Saturday (not solely that Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday). The hashtag is used in a manner similar to #FollowFriday to highlight favorite local businesses. Additionally, some small business owners have run marketing specials on the November Small Business Saturday to help capitalize on the boost in foot or online traffic, as most customers in this time period are actively shopping for the holidays.

The Coal Country Christmas Carol has grown into an annual tradition.

Several years ago, playwright Joe Hiatt and friends wanted to create a version of the classic Dickens’ story, “A Christmas Carol.” However, there were a few elements Mr. Hiatt wanted to use if he were going to write an adaptation. First, he wanted to make it specific to the coal region of Pennsylvania, a place Dickens himself visited when he came to America.

Coal Country Christmas Carol in Jim Thorpe

“There is so much history here that speaks directly to the Scrooge story,” Hiatt explains, “I wanted to bring it home and make it unique to Pennsylvania, which has no shortage of ghosts!”

He also uses the incredible talents of the artists and performers who live and work in the coal region. Home not only to actors and writers, but some of the finest musicians, dancers, circus performers and visual artists around, Carbon County is truly unusual. From this idea grew the Christmas Carol as a live, staged radio play where anything and everything can happen.

What do Scrooge’s ghosts look like? What are his memories? The first time Dani Davison flew out over the audience in an aerial ballet or the velvet box grew into Dan Becker’s towering Christmas tree we realized, in the world of the imagination, it could be anything.

This year, we’re going even further with more music; tradition and original songs by the Free Range Folk, Christie McGorry and more, we’ve added the amazing talents of Bill Lance, Maya Kowalcyk and the Eclectic Circus. Be ready for the march of the breaker boys, the dance of the silk mill girls and, of course, ghosts! It promises to be a Christmas Carol like you’ve never seen before.

“The Coal Country Christmas Carol” is a Jim Thorpe tradition that the entire family can enjoy. You can purchase tickets on the Mauch Chunk Opera House website or downtown at SoundCheck Records. Call 570-325-0249 for more information.

Many call them the original tribute band, having followed the developments in Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band for over 30 years.

Others just call them a tireless band from nearby Jersey that happens to do Springsteen, does it well, and totally rocks the house, no matter where they play.

Either way, The BStreet Band is always happy to oblige. They perform the Friday night right after Christmas, 12/27, at the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim Thorpe. Talk about a party, time to get out of the house!

BStreet Band Springsteen TributeOriginally known as Backstreets, the band was formed in Asbury Park, New Jersey in May of 1980 by musicians Will Forte and the late Bob Chipak. Since that time, the band has performed from Maine to the Bahamas for well over 3 million people.

Whether it’s opening for Bruce and the E-Street Band at the Philadelphia Spectrum Final Four Shows, entertaining Hard Rock Chairman/CEO James Allen and fans at both the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl,  rockin’ Duke University and the graduating classes of Harvard and Princeton, the list goes on and on.

BStreet Band Springsteen TributeOver the last 30 years, the band has been estimated to have played in over 800 different nightclubs and 200 colleges through 20 different states and is now considered to be the longest running tribute band in the world.

Whatever you may call them, the Opera House calls it a great time for the entire family. Hope to see you!

Reserve your seats online at the Mauch Chunk Opera House website or call SoundCheck Records at 570-325-4009.

Customer Appreciation Day in downtown Jim Thorpe, PA is Friday, November 14, 2013. Our downtown shops and eateries want to thank both our local and regular customers by having a sale! Without these special customers, our businesses would not be successful.

Thirteen years ago, this sale was started by Tom Lux of the Mauch Chunk 5 & 10. This year 14 shops – filled with unique gifts you won’t find anywhere else – are offering discounts of 10% – 20% off!

Jim Thorpe Customer Appreciation DayYou can find something in Jim Thorpe for everyone on your Christmas list! You will be greeted with a warm welcome and customer service is always offered with a smile. Most shops will be open until 8 PM.

Don’t forget to stop in Antonio’s which will offer you a discount – relax in the dining room in the back or take-out something for your family waiting for you to return from your shopping adventure.

For a listing of participating shops http://peggystreasureshop.com/JTHappenings.html

We hope to see you Friday, November 14 – browsers are always welcome! What better way to start your Christmas shopping than with a sale?

Mark your calendars on Sunday, September 29th, at 2:00 PM for a movie premier at the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. The film, Jim Thorpe: The Old Mauch Chunk History Tour, a new documentary will be shown, appropriately, in the town’s Victorian theater, followed by a reception.

Jim Thorpe History - Old Mauch ChunkThe film takes you on a walk among Victorian homes and into private historic gems such as the Asa Packer Mansion, the Molly Maguire courtroom, the Inn of Jim Thorpe, the Mauch Chunk Opera House, the Mauch Chunk Museum, and St. Mark’s Church. No other filmmaker has attempted to cover Jim Thorpe’s Historic District.

Jim Thorpe History - Old Mauch ChunkAt the premier the 90 minute DVD will be available for sale. Jim Thorpe: The Old Mauch Chunk History Tour is already on sale at the Mauch Chunk 5 & 10, Sound Check Records, and the Mauch Chunk Museum. Price $15. For the website, see JimThorpeHistoryTour.com.

The Musical Matrix

The Musical Matrix
A Q&A with Joe Louis Walker

By Geoff Gehman

At age 16 Joe Louis Walker played house guitar in a San Francisco club called the Matrix, where on any given night you could hear everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Thelonius Monk, Magic Sam to Pigpen. At age 63 Walker is a matrix all by himself. For nearly 30 years he’s been plugged into an electrifying grid of blues, rock, soul, R&B and gospel, tripping the circuits with the likes of Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt and Ron Wood.
On Aug. 9 Walker will turn the Mauch Chunk Opera House into a rollicking roadhouse church. He’ll sample his 2012 CD “Hellfire” (Alligator Records), a terrific collection of wicked rockers (“What It’s Worth”), sneaky soulful tributes (“Black Girls”) and sacred-secular showcases (“Soldier for Jesus,” featuring the Jordanaires, Elvis Presley’s favorite backup singers). Exploring the stretch between heaven and hell is natural for Walker, who sought refuge from his demons by joining the Spiritual Corinthians gospel group and who befriended Mike Bloomfield, the immensely talented electric guitarist who succumbed too soon to his demons.
A 2013 member of the Blues Hall of Fame, Walker recently singed the telephone lines with candid comments about inspiration, fame and the importance of letting the game come to you.

Joe Louis Walker - Blues at the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim THorpeQ: “Hellfire” was a deep, important record for you. What goals did you have making it? And what did you get out of making it?
A: I was trying to make a record that hopefully young people can enjoy, to get some newer people listening to the blues. And I was learning to trust my instincts in the studio. That’s a big deal for me.

Q: One of my favorite tracks on “Hellfire” is “Black Girls,” a tribute to the female singers who really give soul to rock and roll. I know you watched some of these ladies in action: the Ikettes, Margie Hendricks of the Raelettes, Merry “Gimme Shelter” Clayton—all of whom are featured in the new documentary “20 Feet from Stardom.” Have you ever considered cutting a record with some of these fabled backup vocalists?
A: I’d love to do something with those folks. But, then, I’ve done a lot of different vocal stuff with a lot of different people. B.B. King. Bonnie Raitt. The Jordanaires. The Gospel Hummingbirds. My old group, the Spiritual Corinthians. I’m open to pretty much anything and everything.

Q: Do you have a favorite moment, or moments, from your decade in the Spiritual Corinthians?
A: One of the most enjoyable experiences was a 50th-anniversary concert with the Soul Stirrers–the real Soul Stirrers. We had the Clark Sisters, the Truthettes, just a bunch of great people. We even had [Soul Stirrer patriarch] R.H. Harris. We didn’t have drums or a whole bunch of instruments because R.H. wouldn’t play with drums or electric guitars.

Joe Louis Walker - Blues at the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim THorpeQ: I envy folks who went to the Fillmores West and East like I envy folks who went to Ebbets Field to see the Brooklyn Dodgers play. After reading about your high-flying times at the Matrix, I wish I had been a fly on the wall there, too. Can you remember your first hair-raising, spine-tingling, earth-quaking time at the Matrix?
A: Well, there were a million clubs besides the Matrix back then. To be honest, there were better clubs, too. But when you look back, I don’t think there was any better club when it comes to making a cultural statement. The Matrix was a very special place because it booked the old groups and the new, the white with the black. It was a premier place to listen to older blues guys like Lightnin’ Hopkins and Magic Sam, up close. People like John Cipollina from Quicksilver Messenger Service or Pigpen from the [Grateful] Dead or Tommy Johnston from the Doobies got a chance to hang out with the old blues cats. You could see all the young hippie groups, too. It was all mixed up, and it was cool.

Q: Larry Coryell, who will be playing Mauch Chunk on Aug. 17, says that Miles Davis gave him a great piece of advice: “Never finish a phrase.” In other words, keep the phrase open so you remain open to something better. What’s the best wisdom you received from Mike Bloomfield, your old roommate and role model?
A: The one thing I really admired about Michael was his standing as a musician. He was so versatile. You could hear him playing on “Like a Rolling Stone” and Muddy Waters’ record “Fathers and Sons”; you could hear him playing with the Woody Herman Orchestra and Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. On certain nights he could be the greatest, just like on certain nights Elvin Bishop could be the greatest. The only person I could put in a category with Michael is Taj Mahal. Taj could do Robert Johnson and then turn around and do the country song “Six Days on the Road” and be just as viable.
Joe Louis Walker - Blues at the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim THorpeIt’s almost as if in that particular time [the ’60s and ’70s] people were open in the way that Miles told Larry to leave the phrase open. They were open with their music, their art, their movies, their actions. It was a time when whites and blacks could play together in groups like the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Booker T and the MGs, when everybody was searching for what they thought was right.
It’s that mixed-up element in America that’s inspirational. People from all over the world grab it and hold it close to them as a beacon, whether it’s music or politics or FM radio or sports. If you ask anyone what inspires them, it’s usually something against the grain. It could be Muhammad Ali. Or it could be Pete Seeger, one of the greatest Americans who ever lived. I’m glad they put these “American Masters” [programs] on TV so you can really see that what really makes us great, as a country and a people, is our collective soul.

Q: Did you gain a new understanding of America, a new appreciation for your country, when you lived in France for over two years?
A: France is a special place. You get up in the morning and you have croissants or a baguette and coffee at the bistro and you read papers and you talk about topics of the day. One time I came back home after a tour and my French friends said: “Joe, why are they letting New Orleans drown?” I didn’t really understand until I turned on the television and saw people on the roof [after Hurricane Katrina]. I remember Charlene Neville in her tribulation driving a bus over a bridge, running through a blockade, trying to get kids to safety.
A good friend of mine, who was born in Algeria but raised in France, turned to me and said: “You know, Joe, did you ever wonder why America has to always be in a war?” And I told him: “I’ll be honest, I don’t know, man.” Maybe it’s because people are just numb; maybe they think that war is a natural state because that’s the way the country was discovered. Things might be different if more people could see the effects of somebody getting shot in the head, if the picture had a human face.
That’s why I’m glad I’m a musician. I have a release for what I do. And my release is positive, whether I’m playing music for 200 people or 2,000. And I can give them a positive release, too.

Joe Louis Walker - Blues at the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim THorpeQ: You’ve said that your biggest fans were your mother and the late Lee Atwater, the former Republican Party chair who probably loved to play blues guitar more than he loved to lobby. What did Lee do for you besides getting you an invitation to play at the first George Bush’s presidential inauguration?
A: Go figure, right? That’s the dichotomy; that’s the power of music. Lee just liked the blues. By him liking the blues, he treated the blues guys—and the rock guys—he hired with respect. Because of Lee, I got to go to the White House on a couple of occasions, I got to give the first George Bush a guitar. I also got to play in this big inauguration concert. It was, believe me, a very, very strange thing.
I was the first act to come on and at the table of honor were Coretta Scott King, Barbara Bush, Martin Luther King III and old man Bush. The only one not there was George W. Bush; he was backstage with Lee Atwater, leading the fun parade [laughs].
I had my own segment and I played with the Willie Dixon Dream Band. There was Koko Taylor; Cash McCall, Willie’s guitar player, and [Rolling Stones guitarist] Ronnie Wood. And then I did a bunch of different combinations with Stevie Ray and Jimmy Vaughan, Albert Collins, Joe Cocker, the MGs without Booker T.
It was more like a rock concert I found out, way later, than I thought it was. Let’s just say it was very interesting to see how everybody enjoyed themselves; let’s just leave it at that [laughs]. Normally, at affairs like that, it’s divided according to political parties. Well, for that one night, it was just a party. Let me tell you, it wasn’t about to not be a party [laughs].

Q: Is there something that you recently discovered that’s made life easier for you as a professional musician, some hard-won epiphany?
A: I’d say that the last seven, eight, 10 years I’ve started enjoying my career a bit more. I enjoy my fans. I enjoy being around Taj Mahal or Ronnie Wood or Mick Taylor or Phil Neville or whoever. These are my kind of guys.
When you’re working all the time, it’s not easy. Musicians really don’t have a day off, unless you’re a really, really big musician; then you have a few days off from a tour. But even that’s not happening that much these days. Even the big acts are touring because the music industry is in such bad shape. The record companies are in dire straits and the clubs aren’t having it easy by any stretch of the imagination. And uniqueness and originality are being questioned.
When I was 17, 18, I was living in houses with people like Michael Bloomfield and seeing all sorts of folks coming through, with a lot of people dying—Jimi [Hendrix], Janis [Joplin]. I saw how they were just totally unprepared for what became the classic rock and roll industry, or, if you want to call it, the cash cow. It’s that classic situation where everybody’s struggling for that slice of pie, that success which is linked to stardom which is linked to “Oh god, when I get there I’m going to feel so much better and my life’s going to be so much better.”
It’s like that line from that Eagles song [“Hotel California”]: “They stab it with their steely knives but they just can’t kill the beast.” Well, that beast has grown so much it pretty much ate up the mother and father.
I guess my epiphany is that I’m glad I started when I did because people have been aware of me for a long time. They know that I like to play all styles of music, with blues being the most important. They know that I like experimenting, that I like to get out of my wheelhouse. They know that I’ve stayed true.

Q: So, Joe, what do you do on the road to keep yourself comfortable?
A: I like to warm up by singing gospel songs, like my grandmother used to do. It just loosens you up. It’s important to stay loose on stage. The tighter you get, the more it takes the fun part out of it.

Q: What projects do you have on the front burners? I’ve read that you’d like to cut a record with Johnny Winters, a fellow blues-rock guitarist and your soul brother, and that you’d like to write an autobiography.
A: I’d like to do both projects. A friend of mine told me that if you start writing so much about the past, you sort of start neglecting the future. I was one of those guys when I was young I always wanted to be older. Now that I’m older I sort of want to be younger. I’ve imbibed everything known to mankind, but I’m not too worried because my grandmother lived to 100 and I have great genes.
I feel great. I love playing with friends of mine. Now that we’re older it’s special that we can sit around and talk about stuff and laugh. I could laugh with Ronnie Wood about that inauguration concert and the fact that between the two of us we saw just about everything—and, man, I mean everything.

Joe Louis Walker: The Scoop

(1) The first song he couldn’t forget: The Drifters’ “I Count the Tears.”
(2) His father played blues piano and his mother played B.B. King records.
(3) He received degrees in music and English from San Francisco State University.
(4) He’s written songs (“Black Girls,” “Too Drunk to Drive Drunk”) with JoJo Russo, a car-shop owner and car renovator-designer in Pittsburg, Calif., where Walker once lived.
(5) On his 1997 CD “Great Guitars” he duets with the likes of Otis Rush, Bonnie Raitt and Little Charlie Baty.
(6) His song “Highview,” which appears on his 2008 record “Witness to the Blues,” honors his friend Peter Green, the original lead guitarist for Fleetwood Mac and a rare musician who has given B.B. King “the cold sweats.”

Geoff Gehman is a former arts writer for The Morning Call in Allentown. He can be reached at geoffgehman@verizon.net.

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