Toolcity Underground Festival Returns To The Academy Theatre

Experience Live Local Bands in this Beautiful Settling

The Academy Theatre is hosting the ToolCity Underground Festival on September 7 starting at 2:00pm.  Tickets are only $7.50 and are good all day.  So feel free to wander in and out, catching your favorite groups.  Tickets will be available at the door, which opens at 1:30pm, or by calling 814-337-8000 or online at

The ToolCity Underground is an ongoing series of events and albums showcasing the talent and variety of musical performers that can be discovered in northwestern Pennsylvania.  It began in 1997, when filmmaker and musician Paul Gorman organized an album featuring original material written and recorded by thirteen bands and singer/songwriters from the area on a single CD.  This album saw wide distribution and helped boost the profile of the local music scene and the artists featured.

In 1999, he turned the reins over to producer and musician Mike Litzinger, who organized the second album in the series.  This time with nineteen groups and a more robust promotional package, the disc captured a snapshot of a lively and healthy local original music scene.  As Litzinger said at the time in the album’s liner notes, “Tracks were recorded everywhere; in studios, hotel rooms, living rooms, basements, garages, barns, apartments, etc.  This was truly an underground effort.”

The first of several supporting concerts bearing the series name took place August 21, 1999 at the Academy Theatre in Meadville, PA, kicking off the release of the CD and bringing together over half the featured groups on a single stage for an all-day event.  Other concerts followed around the area, always with the desire to expose music fans to new original artists right in their backyard.

Now, the series returns home to the Academy Theatre for a festival celebrating a new cross-section of the scene, bringing together an eclectic blend of genres and styles sure to please a wide audience and expose them to new music.  Performing live on stage will be a few veterans of the previous ToolCity Underground albums and shows, along with a crop of new artists making their TCU debut.

Performing will be One if by Land, Behind the Nine Ball, Sean-Patrick and the Newgrass Revolution, The Riffriders, Frank Marzano, Ron Arnold and Junk Shop Failure.  Haven’t heard of some of them yet?  Read on to find out a little more about the bands and artists of ToolCity Underground:

ONE IF BY LAND is a four piece rock and roll band from Meadville, Pennsylvania.  The band is comprised of ex-members of Signal Home (Fred Oakman, Troy Messerall, Paul Dean) and their long-time friend Jim Stone on drums.  They released a full length album titled “In the Fire of My Youth” in July 2013.  Coming from such a successful run with their previous band, it has not taken ONE IF BY LAND much time to already garner some attention as it was recently announced that they will be featured on a 7″ vinyl record with punk rock legends ANTI-FLAG on a subscription series being released on A-F Records.

BEHIND THE NINE BALL is an alternative rock band that was formed in 1998 to encompass the musical output of Mike Litzinger, formerly of the northwestern PA band Yellow No. 5.  Over the years the lineup has varied, but currently the band consists of Litzinger (vocals/guitar), Steve Gramley (drums), Nathan Gramley (keyboards/guitar) and Jim Kipp (bass).  The band’s first full-length album, titled “Love In Stereo,” was released September 9, 2009.  A Nirvana tribute album “The Nevermind Sessions” was released on September 24, 2011, followed by the “Bold Crush EP” on December 12, 2012.  The band released their album “Live At The Blue Planet” in January of 2013 and is currently planning to release a new album “Pet Gods” in 2014.

Sean-Patrick started off bringing his unique sound to the masses with just his guitar, banjo and voice.  He was performing as a solo artist and found that limited, so the hunt began.  Ryan Mcall (formerly of OTiS) was recruited for his unique style and interpretation of contemporary beats.  Next, Paul Dolak was brought into the fold.  His bass style is heavily influenced by his extensive six-string background.  He brings a flavor to this band that would be difficult to replicate.  Lastly, but certainly not least, is Tony Kellogg.  Tony completely rounds out the band, bringing to the table some extremely versatile guitar skills.  Sometimes he is providing a solid backbone of intricate chords while other times he makes that thing just sing.  Let’s not forget the the lap steel guitar and backing vocals!  If you are looking for something soulful and real, something sad and true, or just something to help you enjoy your day then look no further.  Here is SEAN-PATRICK AND THE NEWGRASS REVOLUTION!

Lead by the irresistible, insatiable and, uncompromisable life lovin’ lyrical skills of Michael Wayne and his beautiful ukulele Mai’li, 3RDWORD is a powerhouse group of musicians composed of Andrew Em and Bryant Kuehner.  Together these three put the hippie in the hop and shake it up with some island grooves and out comes the mighty fun, mighty danceable, mighty hip, 3RDWORD!

THE RIFFRIDERS are a blues band that really knows how to rock it out.  Formed in April of 2011, the band hails from Erie, PA and includes five musicians with decades of experience performing in the local club scene.  Band members include Amy “Shally” Shallenberger (vocals & guitar),  Sean Seth (guitar), Otis James (harmonica), Tony LaPaglia (bass), Joe Caprara (drums & vocals).  THE RIFFRIDERS generate their energy and trademark sound by infusing blues standards with a modern style, which provides audiences classic tunes with a fresh groove.  Their set list features standards and deep cuts, and is also flavored by original songs that are born from a profound appreciation of the masters.

Originally from Chicago, songwriter/guitarist FRANK MARZANO has been entertaining audiences throughout the tri-state region since relocating to Edinboro in 1995.  His first CD, “But Enough About Me,” was declared by a Japanese music blog to be the #4 album of 2007, alongside major-label releases by The Smithereens and Queens of the Stone Age.  Another one of Frank’s songs, “Drink Her Goodbye,” was covered in 2009 by Canadian artist Jaimie Vernon.  In 2012, Frank released his second CD, “The Boy Who Always Got Picked Last.”  His live performances are known for their energy (and are usually punctuated by Frank’s wry sense of humor).  An ardent fan of local music, when not playing his own songs he can be regularly seen in the audience when other bands play.

RON ARNOLD is a local singer / songwriter who performs as a solo artist and is a founding member of the erstwhile local band, Navin.  Ron has been writing and performing music for well on 20 years.  He’s most recently involved with The Sofa King Cool band as lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist.

JUNK SHOP FAILURE recently formed in 2013 and hails from Erie, PA.  Born of several area groups, including Gone For Six, Black Rose Diary, Dirt McGurtt, Sound City Saints, and Paddy Whacked, members Josh Zimmer (vocals, mandolin, accordion), Zac Lucas (vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica), Jesse Guerrein (vocals, acoustic Guitar, banjo) and Kevin O’Neal (fiddle, tin whistle) bring their fresh take of indie, folk and bluegrass styles to the stage.

For more information about the ToolCity Underground Festival, please call 814-337-8000 or visit

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The Academy Theatre is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  Its purpose is to be a recognized center for the performing arts in Northwest Pennsylvania, and an integral part of the regional arts community; to develop artistic appreciation and serve the cultural, social and educational needs of an expanding audience; and to perform in a fully functioning, comfortable and historically faithful facility.