Ever-evolving Erie All Stars kick off 8 Great Tuesdays on July 5. Here's what to expect

·6 min read

With two dozen musicians ready to take the Highmark Amphitheater stage, the Erie All Stars are preparing to thrill the crowd July 5 at the first ErieBank 8 Great Tuesdays show of the year at Liberty Park on the bayfront.

Fans can expect a mix of musical genres from the All Stars, who will play at least a 3-hour set, according to Ron Yarosz, creative director for the performance.

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"The theme this year is Erie All Stars' greatest hits," Yarosz said. "We're rehashing a few of the ones we've done and we're doing quite a few genres. We're doing a little bit of country, we've got a lot of blues and we have some reggae in the set. We're doing stuff you'd hear The Groove do normally, too. We have some rock songs, AC/DC, Steve Miller, some (Eric) Clapton. We're doing a Frank Zappa song ... so it will be all over the place. Something for everyone, that's for sure."

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The All Stars, a rotating band of the area's top musicians with a handful of regulars at the core, will open the 22nd season of free 8 Great Tuesdays concerts at 828 West Bayfront Parkway. The only year the whole series was canceled was in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority organizes the weekly series that runs for eight consecutive Tuesdays from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

People listen to the Breeze Band perform during ErieBank 8 Great Tuesdays on July 20, 2021, at the Highmark Amphitheater in Erie. The Erie All Stars are scheduled to perform July 5 to open the 2022 series of 8 Great Tuesdays.
People listen to the Breeze Band perform during ErieBank 8 Great Tuesdays on July 20, 2021, at the Highmark Amphitheater in Erie. The Erie All Stars are scheduled to perform July 5 to open the 2022 series of 8 Great Tuesdays.

"The concerts continue to offer a very balanced lineup ... We haven't tinkered with its success," said Brenda Sandberg, the Port Authority's executive director. "The authority has discussions and sets parameters both for music type and age diversity (with the promoter). This year we have a country night, '80s rock night, Latin fusion night, jazz and blues night. We strive to have some form of entertainment for everyone."

Ron Esser, the 8 Great Tuesdays promoter who books acts on behalf of the Port Authority, also had a hand in the creation of the Erie All Stars.

"(Esser) was the one who wanted the concept to do Erie All Stars," Yarosz said. "He approached (guitarist Eric) Brewer about it nine years ago or so. The first one they did was the Tribute to Woodstock (in 2013)."

Sandberg said the Authority is also pleased with Esser in his role as the series' booker and promoter.

"Our music budget is $50,000. Our promoter does a fantastic job of getting us quality entertainment for that amount of funding for eight nights," she said.

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Opening show for 2022

The All Stars, as always, will bring a unique lineup and setlist in for the 8 Great opening night. Yarosz, known for his talents on the harmonica, Hammond B3 organ and soulful vocals with Ron Yarosz and the Vehicle, was the key decision-maker on picking which musicians would join in this time around. Brewer and bassist Doug Phillips have been creative directors for past All Stars shows as members of the core band that also include Ron Sutton on drums, Craig Stevens on keyboards and guitarist Rich Grisier.

"The core band gets together, and we pool each other on what we think would work for this year. It's kind of a pretty democratic thing, though," Yarosz said. "In years past, for CelebrateErie when they did the theme shows, those were a lot more involved, but the budget was way larger at the same time. Ralph Reitinger helped me organize this with a substantial amount of help."

In previous versions, the Erie All Stars have done tribute shows to Queen (at CelebrateErie in 2019), Tom Petty, The Beatles, various guitar legends, hit songs recorded at Sound City, and more, just to name a few.

Rehearsals began early this week for the All Stars, starting with the core band before others get time in to run through songs "with the horns and to iron out all the wrinkles," Yarosz said.

"This will be pretty cool for us because this might be the only time we play this year," Yarosz said. "It's always an adventure to put the set together, but everyone involved is a professional. Everybody is looking forward to playing. Everybody loves 8 Great Tuesdays, of course."

The All Stars won't be among the acts playing at CelebrateErie this year, according to Jason Loncki, the city of Erie's marketing strategist and CelebrateErie executive director.

"Every time they play, the Erie All Stars put together a fantastic performance," Loncki said in an email. "Our team decided to book national headliners on the mainstage for all three nights this year, but we hope to have the All Stars back in the future."

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But fans of some of Erie's top music artists can first catch the All Stars' show July 5.

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All Stars performers for 8 Great Tuesdays

The members of Erie All Stars for the July 5 show, according to Yarosz, include the following:

  • Harmonica/organ: Ron Yarosz

  • Keyboards: Craig Stevens, Kennedy Thompson

  • Guitars: Rich Grisier, Eric Brewer, Barry Sherman, Tony Ferrara

  • Bass: Ralph Reitinger, Jassen Wilber, Doug Phillips

  • Drums: Ron Sutton, Mike Russell, Steve Barrone, Joe Travers (special appearance on a few songs)

  • Vocalists: Elly Vahey, Brittany Morton, Roy Hollis, Jeffrey Crock, Dan Baney, Matt Boland, Preach Freedom, Yarosz, Sherman, Phillips

  • Horns: Brian Hannah, Allen Zurcher, Kent Tucker

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8 Great Tuesdays show lineup

  • July 5: Erie All Stars

  • July 12: Zac Brown Tribute Band. Opening: Reignmaker

  • July 19: "King" Solomon Hicks. Opening: The Pierce Dipner Band

  • July 26: Concrete Castles. Opening: The Polkamaniacs, Patrick Lah

  • Aug. 2: The Town Pants. Opening: The Probables

  • Aug. 9: Latin Fusion

  • Aug. 16: Buffalo Rose. Opening: The Ron Yarosz Power Organ Trio

  • Aug. 23: Bruce in the USA. Opening: Jack Stevenson & The Buried Treasure Band

Numerous local vendors will be at the 8 Great events. Check restrictions on what patrons are allowed to carry in to the venue at porterie.org or by calling 814-455-7557.

Contact Tony Battaglia at tbattaglia@timesnews.com. Follow the GoErie.com Instagram page at instagram.com/goeriecom.

This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Ever-evolving Erie All Stars kick off free 8 Great Tuesdays on July 5