The Poets Return to Funfest

By Jayne Ann Bugda |

Published 08/15 2014 01:13AM

Updated 08/15 2014 01:16AM

Northeast Pennsylvania’s most popular show band, The Poets, will return to Funfest for its eighth annual Kickoff Concert on Friday, September 5. The oldies and pop music show will be sponsored this year by Northeast Revenue Services LLC, and will once again be the official start to Funfest Weekend, which takes place in Downtown Hazleton September 6 and 7.  Advanced tickets are now available, and tickets will also be sold at the door. 
Concert chairman Joe Scarcella offered thanks to the sponsor. “We are grateful to Northeast Revenue Service for sponsoring the concert for a third consecutive year, and we appreciate their continued support.”
The Poets have been the featured attraction for the pre-festival concert for five years, and Scarcella said they are a favorite in Hazleton.  “Whether you are a Poets follower or a lover of good oldies music, this show will be a great night of entertainment. They are terrific showmen, and each year, the show features something new and different. It has become a tradition for many to attend.”
Based in Scranton, the Poets have been entertaining for 45 years, appearing with legends like the Righteous Brothers, the Four Seasons, and the Monkees. They play the best of the 50s and 60s, as well as Beatles, Disco, and newer songs. Dubbed the “deans of Northeastern Pennsylvania rock bands” by local media, the group has been the main act for Lackawanna County’s La Festa Italiana, and has also been featured at many other fairs and night spots throughout the region.  They were also asked to perform at the inaugural ball for Senator Rick Santorum in Washington D.C.
The Poets’ concert serves not only as the kickoff to Funfest Weekend, but also as a fundraiser for the event.  The organization spends tens of thousands of dollars to bring the festival to Downtown Hazleton, and Scarcella said program ads and ticket sales will help to support the Funfest Committee’s efforts. Scarcella said Northeast Revenue Services’ contribution will go a long way. “This concert has become an important fundraiser for our festival, and without our sponsors, we would be unable to put the show together. We are grateful not only to our title sponsor, but to the many local businesses who support us by placing ads in the program.”   Program ad sponsorships are still available.  In addition to the exposure received through ad placement, sponsors also receive tickets to the show. 
The Poets formed in 1963 as The Five Dimensions, and changed their name to the Poets “to sound more Beatle-esque,” according to band members.  After a brief split for military duty, the group re-formed in the 1970s, and became popular for their oldies and vaudeville style shows in the Poconos.  The group’s show now includes a set as “Frankie and the Corvettes,” and features greaser costumes and 1950s dance music.
The Poets feature Frank Gervasi (vocals, multiple instruments), Nick Luongo (bass, vocals), Pat Luongo (guitar, vocals), Toby Naro (drums, vocal), Alan Shields (guitar, keyboard and vocals), and John Hollenbaugh (keyboard, vocals).
The Friday Night Funfest Kickoff Concert will be the beginning of a Weekend that has become one of the largest attractions in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Funfest activities will stretch for five blocks of Broad Street in Downtown Hazleton, and will include a craft show, car show, and one of the biggest parades in the region, featuring highs school bands, locally created floats, and giant balloons. Outdoor activities begin at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, September 6, and at 11 a.m. Sunday.  Funfest’s theme for 2014 is “Down the Yellow Brick Road.”
Tickets for the concert can be purchased at Funfest Headquarters at the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce Office, 20 W. Broad Street (next to the Markle Building); or at Metallo’s Formal Wear, 310 W. Broad Street. Both are in Downtown Hazleton.  Tickets will also be available at the door. Information about concert tickets, and about advertising in the concert program, can be obtained by calling Funfest at 570-455-1509 or at
  (Information from Judiann McGrogan)

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