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Thursday, August 8th, 2013 at 12:57 AM

Professor Wig-Wag’s Ice Cream Social& Bluegrass Festival

Last year, PACA hosted Attack of the PACA, a series of music and theater events held over two days for the community to enjoy. Now, Artistic Director Mark Tanenbaum is ready to host another two-day fun fest, although he’s including a different demographic.

“I thought [Attack of the PACA] was fabulous, but at the same time I thought that it was lacking a children’s component,” Tanenbaum says. With the younger generation in mind, Tanenbaum has a new community event for this summer: Professor Wig-Wag’s Ice Cream Social & Bluegrass Festival.

 To make it even easier for people to bring their progeny down to PACA, Tanenbaum made sure that the two-day festival was quite affordable at the low, low cost of nothing. That’s right: entrance to Professor Wig-Wag’s is free of charge, welcoming parents and children to come down to the festivities at 1505 State St. to revel in the joys of bluegrass.

“Children don’t get a chance to see live music, and I believe that if somebody doesn’t see something, they can never aspire to it,” Tanenbaum says.“If you have a child sitting on the sidelines and watches someone play the fiddle or the banjo or the stand-up bass or the guitar, they can say to themselves ‘Golly, I’d like to do that too.’”

On Saturday, Aug. 10 and Sunday, Aug. 11, PACA will host 16 hours of live music (from 2 to 11 p.m Saturday and 2 to 7 p.m. Sunday), with NPR-approved progressive bluegrass band The Barefoot Movement heading a list of musicians that include local stringsters Scarlet Ledbetter and Sean Patrick & the Newgrass Revolution.

Professor Wig-Wag’s Ice Cream Social & Bluegrass Festival holds more treats than just music, however. As one would be inclined to guess from the name of the event, there will be ice cream for sale, allowing Wig-Waggers to purchase frozen scoops of goodness to go with the bluegrass. Also, Tanenbaum has another activity available for parents and children alike.

“We’re creating games that do not require electricity or batteries so that children can have an actual tactile experience with the games that they play,” Tanenbaum says.

Now, if you’re thinking all of this sounds like a great time for the members of the community to come together and have a blast, then you should really thank Tanenbaum and all the folks behind PACA. Remember, Erie Gives Day falls just two days after Professor Wig-Wag ends, and a donation to PACA can show a lot of gratitude and help bring more community celebrations like Professor Wig-Wag to downtown.


Despite what Michael Bay might think, you don’t always need giant explosions, expensive special effects, quick edits, and even more explosions to entertain an audience. In fact, sometimes all it takes is a cast of two and the help of some great dialogue.

Of course, it certainly helps if that dialogue is written by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Mamet. All An Act Theater Productions will bring the American playwright’s two-person play, “Oleanna,” the story of a male college professor and a female student that don’t quite see eye-to-eye, to their stage for a three-weekend run starting Friday, Aug. 9.

“At its heart, what the play is very literally about are these casual abuses that we carry out on one another because of our inability to empathize with each other, understand each other, or see another point of view,” says Director Nick Kikola.

The show, a bit of a departure from the typically more humorous All An Act fare, puts Mamet’s hyper-realistic writing style, dubbed “Mamet speak,” on display, creating enough tension to fill the venue, even without giant robots and Shia LaBeouf.

“It is an intense 80 minutes,” Kikola says.“It’s really a lot of work on the actors and pretty intellectually challenging for the audience.”

Sound interesting? You can check out “Oleanna” on Fridays and Saturdays Aug 9-10, 16-17, and 23-24 at 7:30 p.m., as well as a 3 p.m. Sunday performance August 25 for the more matinee-minded folks that prefer their explosions be delivered through extremely well-written dialogue.

CelebrateErie Local Spotlight

As you might have heard, CelebrateErie is bringing bandana-bearing rocker Bret Michaels, country quartet Lonestar, and ‘50s-styled Greaser rock band Sha Na Na to town. Well, if that $117,000 lineup looks more like Bret Why-chaels, Groan-star, and Sha No No, don’t worry, there are plenty of Erie bands that you can check out during the multi-day street festival.

Kick off your musical celebration Friday, Aug. 16 with some blues brought to you by Ron Yarosz and the Vehicle from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Taste of Erie Gazebo Stage before heading off to check out up-and-coming hard rockers Kevlar at the 10th Street Community Stage from 5:45 to 6:45 p.m. Then finish off the night with Broke Boland at the 11th Street Sounds of Erie Stage from 9 to 10:30 p.m.

Saturday promises additional local treats, with the jazztastic Cat’s a Bear and the acoustic plucking of MJT taking the Gazebo stage from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. and 4 to 5 p.m., respectively. Then head down to the Main Stage for some tasty guitar licks with Jake’s Blues starting at 5:30 p.m. before making your way down to 11th Street to jam with Chasing Moira at 6:30 p.m.

If cover bands are more your thing, Sunday is your day to check out acts like Drunk in Memphis and Thirst ‘n Howl. Want some pop? Go see The Romantic Era at 4 p.m. at the 11th Street stage.

This city has plenty of musical talent, so if you’re more into loving rock than “Rock of Love,” check out the local scene this CelebrateErie.

Alex Bieler can be contacted at, and you can follow him on Twitter @Catch20Q.

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