A Very Bridge + Tunnel Christmas: A Rocking Holiday Concert at Towngate

WHEELING — Members of The Bridge and Tunnel Collective and some very special guests will perform a holiday revue for all ages at 8 p.m. Saturday at Oglebay Institute’s Towngate Theare.

The concert will put audience members in a festive mood as multiple local musicians take the stage, performing their original takes on traditional holiday favorites in a variety of musical styles. Performers include Adrian Niles, Michael J. Iafrate and the Priesthood, Mr. Fancy Pants, Weird Lightning, Molly Ananga Manjari Martin, Matt Smith, Chad Burrall, The Pussyfooters, Zoe Buccella, Love & Data and Chelsy Keding.

The annual concert, organized by the Bridge and Tunnel Collective, serves as a fundraiser for a local community organization. This year the Collective is donating its proceeds to the Youth Services System Winter Freeze Shelter. This is the 10th year for the Winter Freeze Shelter, which provides warm, safe shelter to homeless individuals during the coldest months of the year.

“We chose YSS and specifically the Winter Freeze Shelter because it is a very worthy cause that provides a vital service at this time of year.” said Sean Decker, founding member of the Bridge + Tunnel Collective and frontman of Mr. Fancy Pants, who is anchoring the show.

Michael Iafrate, another founder of Bridge + Tunnel and a musician performing at the show, added, “We wanted to broaden the scope of our outreach to other charitable organizations throughout the area. Last year we worked with the Catholic Charities 18th Street Neighborhood Center and know both they and the Winter Freeze shelter can use all our help providing vital services throughout the winter months to our neighbors in need.”

“We at YSS are very excited for this partnership and absolutely appreciate the help it will provide for our Freeze Shelter guests this winter,” added Betsy Bethel-McFarland, Communications Manager, YSS. “We’re also very excited to see this great lineup of local bands and performers.”

Concertgoers have to option to donate additional funds through a donation basket and are encouraged to bring supplies to help the shelter. Needs include warm socks and gloves, ground coffee, sugar, creamer, powdered drink mixes, bottles of water, lip balm, razors, soap, hand sanitizer, deodorant, personal hygeine products, shampoo, lotion, zip-top plastic bags, canned food, twin sheets (fitted and flat), twin blankets, backpacks, flashlights and batteries, heavy socks, boots, gloves, hats, scarves, thermal underwear, peanut butter, cans of vienna sausages and other portable nourishing food items.

“I’m impressed with the giving spirit of these local musicians,” Youth Services System CEO John Moses said. “Not only are they raising awareness and collecting donations for the YSS Winter Freeze Shelter guests, but they’re going above and beyond by donating ticket proceeds to the shelter. The money will go directly to meeting the concrete needs of our guests. We couldn’t do what we do without the help of our generous community.”

“A Very Bridge + Tunnel Christmas” takes place at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets can be purchased at www.oionline.com or by calling 304-242-7700. Seating is limited.

Adult beverages will be available for purchase. An after party will follow the show.

In addition, Mario Muscar, member of Towngate’s own Left of Centre Improv Group and frequent player in OI and Towngate productions over the past 20 years, will act as emcee for the show for the second straight year.

“I’m excited to see another great list of performers bring their talents to the Harold G. O’leary stage for a great night of entertainment which benefits a great service in our community,” said Muscar.

Decker added, “This year’s showcase is incredible. Last year’s show reflected the energy inherent to a musician’s first gig. This year’s show is taking that experience and energy and harnessing it into a show that emphasizes spectacle and grandiosity. More acts, more musical diversity, more technical elements, more everything. It should be a really fun night and we hope to see you all there.”

The show is part of Towngate’s Second Season and is sponsored by Main Street Bank. Towngate’s Second Season programming enhances Wheeling’s arts landscape with literary programming, live music, spoken word performances, improvisation and more. Programs often feature works by emerging and/or local authors, musicians, songwriters, playwrights and poets.

For the second year in a row the show takes place at Towngate Theatre, and Bridge + Tunnel could not be happier about the venue’s continued outstanding support.

“Tim Thompson, P.D. Gregg, and all of the representatives of Towngate Theatre and Oglebay Institute have been incredibly generous with their time and resources. They supported us last year with our inaugural show, and have been even more proactive this year; which, is amazing considering all of the other responsibilities they bear throughout the holiday season,” said Matt Klempa, another founding member of the Bridge + Tunnel Collective. Klempa, Mr. Fancy Pants drummer, continued, “The two organizations share the same primary goals: put on an amazing show and provide for those in need.”

A church-turned-theater, Towngate is located in Wheeling’s historic Centre Market District. Towngate is a cornerstone of creative life in Wheeling and serves as an entertainment destination for residents of Wheeling, the Upper Ohio Valley and beyond. People of all ages and backgrounds gather here to create and experience art onstage. Dozens of theatrical performances, ballets, concerts, films, exhibits, classes and more take place year-round.

For more information, visit www.oionline.com or call 304-242-7700.

The Bridge & Tunnel Collective is a group of local musicians, bands and artists working together to build the infrastructure for a thriving music scene. The B+T Collective are the current curators of the well-known monthly 3rd Friday at Artworks concert series and Live Music Thursdays at Tacoholix (both in Wheeling, West Virginia) as well as other events like the Music Under the Dome series at the Ohio Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Bellaire.

The B+T Collective’s radio show, Digging Tunnels, is coming soon on WEJP-lp FM in Wheeling.

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