Ambridge Museum shines a spotlight on Western Pennsylvania’s musical greats

AMBRIDGE – Skyliners, Vogues, Bobby Vinton, Perry Como.

Jaggerz, Granatis, Lou Christie, BE Taylor.

Les Marcel, Henry Mancini, Norm Nardini, Etta Cox, Donnie Iris … the list goes on.

If these musicians have written or performed songs you care about, consider a visit to the Performing Arts Legend Museum which opens July 2 in Ambridge.

Nestled in a historic 220-year-old brick house two blocks from Old Economy Village, the Performing Arts Legends Museum (PALM) is a treasure trove of musical artifacts from many of our region’s best-known and influential musical artists. .

From gold records and a banana yellow stage costume to an arsenal of little-used guitars, the walls and exhibition areas of PALM tell the tales of musicians from western Pennsylvania who thrilled us. , encouraged and made us stay outside. our bedtime. Located at the intersection of 15th and Merchant streets in the historic district of Ambridge, PALM is educational for visitors and a trip down memory lane.

A stage outfit worn by Turtle Creek's The Vogues joins Elvis Presley memorabilia and a collection of vintage drums in a room at the Performing Arts Legend Museum in Ambridge.

“They can see the impact that so many local artists have had on our personal lives and relive their glory days,” said Elbie Yaworsky, founder of PALM. “Nearly 300 artefacts, gold records, signed photos, 45s, vinyl records and CDs, framed and signed. You can feel the impact this region has had on the evolution of the performing arts.

Yaworsky says he and his wife, Denise, have invested more than $ 250,000 in the complex, which also includes second-floor artist-in-residence accommodation and an attached garage converted into a modern performance studio that also serves as a studio space. rehearsal for Yaworsky’s group, Hot Metal Horns. .

The Performing Arts Legends Museum occupies this 220-year-old building in historic Ambridge.

Yaworsky says he’s “super excited” about PALM’s debut, though final details remain, including the replacement of the main air conditioning unit which failed last week.

Yaworsky and his team spent months designing the museum’s rooms, which are themed for decades but offer versatility.

“We could rearrange each wall based on the receipt of new artifacts,” he said.

The 1950s Room features items like Elvis Presley’s Yearbook, Perry Como’s Gold Records for “Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom”) and “Round and Round”, and an authentic restaurant booth from the years 50, straight out of “Happy Days” from the jukebox television.

The 1950s room of the Performing Arts Legend Museum in Ambridge.

In the 1960s room are instruments, outfits, and autographed photos of Pittsburgh jazz and blues aces like Walt Harper, Harold Betters, Joe Negri and Chizmo Charles, as well as a stage jacket from The Vogues. (“5 O’Clock World”).

Drummer enthusiast Yaworsky presents a collection of drums that includes a 1950s set and a 1983 Black 9-ply Maple Pearl GLX 6-piece drum kit valued at over $ 20,000.

Most of the artifacts on the walls belong to Gene Rees of Center Township, the museum’s executive director. Rees was the architect of Nick’s Fat City on the South Side of Pittsburgh, a popular art deco-style nightclub that was the most popular showcase club for traditional Pittsburgh rock groups in the 1990s. Iris, The Clarks and other Pittsburgh musical luminaries adorned the walls of Nick’s, and Rees ended up buying a large chunk of the memorabilia.

“After all of the hard work we’ve put into The PALM, to say we’re excited to finally be ready to open would be a huge understatement,” Rees said. “One of the main things that never ceases to amaze me is discovering how much of a national impact local musicians have had. An impact that I bet very few local citizens are aware of.”

He cites examples like Mars Scarazzo from Ambridge, who played for Frank Sinatra in Vegas, and Papa John Creach, a native of Beaver Falls, who starred in Jefferson Airplane, “and many others including history, awards and the musical impact are finally exposed “.

Lou Christie from Crescent Township, famous for his success  "Love at first sight," is on display at the Performing Arts Legend Museum in Ambridge, where he has family.

While representing all of western Pennsylvania, the museum has a notable touch of Beaver Valley, seen in articles by bands like Madhouse, the 1980s rockers who filled local clubs and appeared on the debut compilation album. WDVE-FM. A framed copy of this album is displayed alongside a framed post about the band and stage jacket of Dave Cipriani of Madhouse, curator and chairman of The PALM’s advisory board.

A Madhouse jacket and signed guitars and drums are part of the Performing Arts Legend Museum's collection.

Collectibles from non-local music legends like Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix and Queen complement the museum’s exhibits.

The inauguration of the museum on July 2 is from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The PALM will follow the Old Economy Village hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“The exception is that on the first Friday of each month, we will be open until 8 am,” Yaworsky said. “We will be closed when the old economy is closed.”

Admission is $ 5 for adults; $ 4 for seniors and students aged 12 to 18; veterans and active military are free.

After:Donnie Iris to perform at Beaver Station with the Granati Brothers

More Tady ::Nashville’s Aimee Jane and her Beaver County band to rock Tequila Cowboy

Guitars, drums and more are part of the Performing Arts Legend Museum in Ambridge.

PALM Articles:

From Rees’ collection, the PALM will display:

  • Framed stage costumes by Chuck Blasko of The Vogues (“My Special Angel”), Mark Koch of The Marcels (“Blue Moon”) and Jimmy Beaumont of The Skyliners (“Since I Don’t Have You”).
  • Framed “Platinum” records of The Silhouettes (1958 Billboard No. 1 “Get A Job”), The Marcels, The Del-Vikings (“Come Go With Me”), Perry Como.
  • Harold Betters framed the autographed trombone and the album “Live At The Encore”.
  • Framed autographed photos of Darryl & Don Ellis, Johnny Angel & The Halos, Kenny Blake, Chismo Charles, Unwound, Ike McCoy Band, Roger Humphries, Walt Harper, Lucy Van Sickle and Phil Harris.
  • Beret autographed by Gary Baloma.
  • Autographed album covers of The Vogues, Eric Leeds, Novo Combo, The Parker Bros., East Coast Offering, Al Dowe & Etta Cox
  • Rock Band ATS 1980s Tour T-Shirt
  • Poster for the release of the Sleeping Giants CD.
  • Framed sticks autographed by Roger Humphries, Spider Rondinelli.
  • Autographed bass drum skins from Dharma Sons and Wade.
  • Signed saxophones from Glen Quarrie, Robbie Klein, Kenny Blake, Johnny “Smooth” Saber.
  • Dedicated accordion by Frankie Capri.
  • Acoustic guitars signed by Joe Negri, Dave & Shari, Billy Dean, DC Fitzgerald, Gypsy Wind and Anne Feeny.
  • Electric guitars signed by Mike Sallows (with Van Halen paint scheme), McKeg Lawson Band, Whiskey High, Buzz Poets, Tony Janflone, Norm Nardini, Shadoz, Force Field, Gas House and Room To Move.
Dave Cipriani, Elbie Yaworsky and Gene Rees (left to right) have designed a music museum in Ambridge.

Scott Tady is the local entertainment reporter for The Beaver County Times and Ellwood City Ledger. He is easy to reach at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @scottady

Corina C. Butler

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