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‘Concert for Anna’ continues to pay it forward |

‘Concert for Anna’ continues to pay it forward

Rex Rutkoski
Captain Doobie and Big Bambu
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Neutral Loss of Irwin
Neutral Loss of Irwin
Shawn Maudhuit of Ferris Bueller’s Revenge
Safety Last
Safety Last, the North Huntingdon-based teen rockers, return to New Kensington.
The late Anna Piroch of West Deer is the inspiration for “Concert for Anna.”
The new trio Folk You offers a mix of bluegrass, rock and blues.

Scott Piroch has learned a lot about humanity sitting at the door for the past 10 years at the Labor Day weekend benefit honoring the memory of his sister Anna.

“I have seen and met some amazing people,” the New Kensington resident says. “Like the guy that has been to every show every night and refuses to be let in free. He always pays the cover.” Then there is the woman who hands him a $100 bill every year and refuses to take change.

“And we can talk even about the band members (who donate their time) that are allowed in free but always pay for themselves and the (person they are with),” Piroch says. “I would love to talk about our fans, they make the shows.”

3 days of fun

And he is confident they will be counted on to come through again at the 11 th Concert for Anna Aug 31 through Sept. 2 at the Quality Inn, New Kensington.

The three-day celebration will present 15 bands representing a variety of genres raising funds for the family of the late Shannon Ploskunak who lost her battle against cancer Aug. 25. The 41-year-old had lived in Brackenridge.

It also will mark the launch of the Nathan Bittel Scholarship.

“Nate was a bright, enthusiastic Shaler High School senior with autism whose life ended suddenly just a few months ago,” says musician Mike Piroch, brother of Scott Piroch. “The scholarship will help ease the tuition burden for a young person with autism/special needs as they look to continue their education beyond high school.”

Display of love

“We do this to help people in need in our sister’s honor,” he adds.

When 28-year-old grocery clerk Anna Piroch of West Deer, an avid supporter of Alle-Kiski Valley bands, died after a battle with cancer Aug. 4, 2008, without life insurance, musicians rose to the occasion with the first “A Concert for Anna” to cover expenses. Overwhelmed with this display of love and support, the Pirochs and friends decided to “pay it forward” in Anna’s memory.

Youthful appreciation

Tommy McLaughlin of the North Huntingdon-based teen rock band Safety Last, making its Concert for Anna debut at 7:15 p.m. Sept. 1, could be speaking for all of the other groups when he says, “It makes us happy to help people.”

He and band members Cadin Anlauf and Caleb Andrykovitch are sophomores at Norwin, and Jake Devlin is a sophomore at Penn-Trafford.

The group also was part of the Brian Shaw Memorial Scholarship concert at the Quality Inn in June.

“It’s important to help raise awareness for local causes and be a part of big group efforts to help local people in need,” Andrykovitch says. McLaughlin recalls the band meeting fallen New Kensington police officer Shaw’s dad after the show.

“He thanked us for being a part of the event. It felt good to know it meant a lot to him and that our music can make a difference,” McLaughlin said.

Bluegrass and more

Also new to Concert for Anna is 6-month-old Folk You, a trio from Apollo and Ford City, playing traditional bluegrass, high-bred style, mixed with rock and blues and billing themselves as “Armstrong County’s most mesmerizing folk artists.”

The Irwin-based rockers Neutral Loss return this year, as does The Holy Gift, a Tool tribute band from Johnstown.

The full band lineup and schedule can be seen on the concert Facebook page.

Rex Rutkoski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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