Countdown has begun for Hoodstock 2014

MINGO JUNCTION – Six-hundred ticketholders are ready to converge on the Mingo Knights of Columbus Hall for Sunday’s sold-out Hoodstock 2014 featuring Rob Parissi and the original Wild Cherry band reuniting for the first time in 36 years exclusively for the local appearance.

Mingo Junction’s own Parissi, founder of the group and author of the all-time 1970s hit “Play That Funky Music,” is getting ready himself and will be connecting in the days to come to rehearse with former band members Bryan Bassett, lead guitar with Foghat; Allen Wentz, who lives in the Hudson River Valley of New York and has worked with such stars as Cyndi Lauper and the late Luther Vandross; and Ron Beitle, who plays with a band and lives in Pittsburgh.

Parissi and his Wild Cherry colleagues will take to the stage at the K of C hall at 10 p.m., the final act of an all-evening, come-and-go concert that is scheduled to run from 5 p.m. to midnight and feature a smorgasbord of area talent, including U.S. Kids, Spinning Jenny, the Granati Brothers Band, Rock Academy, Joe Macre’s Swinging Johnson Brothers, Tongue ‘N Cheek and Roger Lewis who played with the Raspberries and will be there with his band.

Hoodstock 2014 tops off Mingo Community Days festivities, set for Friday and Saturday, where a special drawing will be held for one lucky person to win the only four Hoodstock concert tickets available.

A strip of tickets for the drawing is $5 at the Mingo Business Association’s booth. The drawing will be conducted there at 7 p.m. Saturday, and the winner must be present.

By mid-June, tickets were sold out for Hoodstock 2014 – a takeoff on the famous Woodstock outdoor concert of 1969 and so named because Parissi wanted to keep the event in his Mingo neighborhood.

“We warned everyone that there was limited space and to get the tickets fast,” said Francesca Carinci, who collaborated with Parissi to organize Hoodstock and who will serve as event master of ceremonies.

Ticket sales went “out the door,” according to Carinci.

“The Wild Cherry reunion is getting major buzz. I have been bombed with ticket requests from people who remember dancing to the original Wild Cherry at pool parties, local clubs, weddings and proms,” she said.

“We had an online auction of two tickets that were donated back by someone who could not go due to work commitments, and they were purchased for $175,” Carinci said. “We had the auction for two days. Frank and Theresa Porco won the auction. He used to work for Wild Cherry and was part of the road crew,” she said.

“The 600 tickets flew, and people are hounding me daily. We sold hundreds of T-shirts, and this has gone viral,” Carinci said, referring to special commemorative T-shirts available for $15 with “Wild Cherry” and the original logo Parissi created on the front and “I Rocked at Hoodstock” on the back.

They will be available at the concert; online through a Hoodstock 2014 Facebook event page; at Pesta’s Country Market, 300 Standard Ave., Mingo Junction; or by contacting Carinci’s office at (740) 284-8008.

The Hoodstock concert will be recorded and available on a DVD for $15. Orders will be taken at the concert and for those not attending, the DVD can be ordered by contacting Carinci.

“I also will have a Facebook page, and they will have phone and e-mail information. We will sell them on eBay with the T-shirts, too” she said.

Proceeds from the concert tickets and sales of T-shirts and DVDs will benefit the Robert Parissi Scholarship Endowment managed by Petrella Wealth Management and providing scholarships for college-bound music or art students at Indian Creek High School.

The first two $1,000 awards were made in May to Niki Wiggam and Shannon Kovach.

Carinci said the idea for a repeat visit by Parissi took root last August when the Florida resident returned to his hometown for honors bestowed as part of the Mingo Business Association’s Mingo 2013 Community Days celebration.

Parissi was lauded with resolutions and proclamations; McLister Avenue carrying the honorary name of Rob Parissi Boulevard; and a dinner at the Knights of Columbus Hall where the keynote speaker was Terry Stewart, who served as president and chief operating officer of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland from 1999 through 2012. Wild Cherry is honored in the museum for its hit song.

Parissi also performed, accompanied by current Mingo Junction rock musicians, including U.S. Kids and Spinning Jenny.

But the actual agreement for the band to reunite for Sunday’s concert came over the Memorial Day holiday after Parissi contacted them.

“Rob contacted them all, and this is the first time in 36 years that they’re all going to be on stage together,” she said.

In an initial Herald-Star article announcing Hoodstock 2014, Parissi had said, “Actually, I just decided that after all this time, it was time for us to reunite under circumstances that would be fun, being the scholarship endowment.” Parissi explained that Bassett had established scholarships in his hometown area of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., in memory of his 18-year-old daughter who had cystic fibrosis.

“I called all the guys, and they were elated to get back together again, especially for the cause,” Parissi continued, adding, “I couldn’t be happier about it, and we’re going to have so many great friends coming from out of town and donating their talent and time to make it a very special and fun event.”

Carinci elaborated on the selection of the Hoodstock name. “Hoodstock means it’s because of the neighborhood, because the Mingo Knights of Columbus is a half mile from where Rob used to live, and that’s the neighborhood where this all started, where they used to rehearse, and so he said we’re back in the hood (the Wild Cherry band) and that’s really why he called it Hoodstock,” she said.

“These guys have their hearts in Mingo,” Carinci said. “They are not taking a dime for it and think it’s wonderful doing this scholarship fund. All of these bands are doing this for nothing,” she added. “The bands really have just all said, ‘Yes I’m in – we want to do this.'”

The Robert Parissi Scholarship Endowment was established as an offshoot of Parissi’s visit to his hometown last summer. Parissi jumpstarted the endowment with a $5,000 donation.

“He decided to do something for the kids going to college with a career focus of music or the arts,” she said. Two annual $1,000 scholarships are to be awarded to Indian Creek High School students. Parissi is a 1968 graduate of Mingo High School.

“We would like to increase that amount, and that’s why we decided to do this concert,” Carinci said.

“Bobby Pizzoferrato, a longtime friend of Rob’s who played in one of the subsequent Wild Cherry configurations in the 1980s with Rob and performed professionally with him and is with the U.S. Kids, has worked really hard with the bands to coordinate everything,” Carinci said. “This is a tremendous undertaking equipment-wise,” she said.

Carinci said Spinning Jenny – sisters Julia, Talia and Angelina Balzano of Mingo – will perform on stage with Wild Cherry. “They’re going to be called the Wild Cherry Sisters. They’re going to be his backup singers,” Carinci said.

Also performing with the group will be Pizzoferrato, Robert “Chic” DiCiccio of Follansbee playing saxophone and Johnny DiCarlo of U.S. Kids.

While the performers will satisfy the music appetites of concertgoers, food and beverage needs will be covered, too, according to Carinci.

The Mingo Knights of Columbus Hall at 117 Legion Drive will operate a cash bar, and Mingo vendors will be set up in the parking lot for food, including the Indian Creek High School Boosters, for example, who will have ribs and chicken.

As for parking arrangements, Carinci said, “We are having the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department assist with parking, and there will be a shuttle available to spread the parking out in other areas. The Mingo First Presbyterian Church has given us permission to park, and there is the ball field as well.”

Parissi said the concert is “a labor of love” and that he’s “thankful and blessed to be at a point in life to be able to give something back for all the success I’ve been lucky to continue to enjoy.”

He also expressed appreciation to his wife, Ilona, “for being along side and behind me in what we’re doing here all the way with her support.”

“My old musician friends and band members immediately said ‘yes’ when I contacted them regarding doing Hoodstock,” Parissi communicated in an e-mail on Monday. “They’re all coming, along with the sound crew, light techs and videographers, and everyone participating is donating their amazing talent and time to help make it happen,” he said.

“I couldn’t be more fortunate to have the friends I do, and appreciate them, their time and talent to help make the show great,” Parissi added.

As for his thoughts on reuniting with Wild Cherry for the first time in so many years, Parissi reflected, “They, like I am, over time have realized that we were very much on the cutting edge of advancing what was known back then as disco, into a springboard for new bands to come along to transform that genre into future neo funk and acid funk afterward genres, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine, Faith No More, Living Colour, Jane’s Addiction and many others afterward and up until now and beyond.

“We’ve all been told by many of these artists over the years that we were influences and templates for what they did and paved the way,” Parissi said.