Pittston’s Border Bar to launch pop-up concert series with Killcode, more
A local concert promoter is launching a pop-up concert series in conjunction with a bar and live music venue in Pittston.
The first show of the season will begin at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Camp Rattler Beer Garden at Border Bar, formerly World of Brew, in Pittston. Internationally touring hard rock band Killcode will headline the evening of music, which also features special guests Idol Hands, Royal Hell and Kaleigh Baker with Matt Walker. Opening the bill will be Thomas the Red, the Viking comic.
James Callahan, a longtime talent booker and former proprietor of Pittston bar The Rattler, was on the road last year with progressive metal band Uncured when a health scare brought him home. Not long after his return, an evening out in Pittston got Callahan and then-World of Brew owner John Barchi talking about bringing music to the establishment.
“John … had recently lost a partner, and he said, ‘I have this idea. We’re moving some coolers around, and we’re going to build a stage,’” Callahan said.
A veteran in show organization and promotion, Callahan, of Kingston, began working with Barchi and bringing live acts to the bar.
“I started doing weekends there, and we were having fun,” Callahan said.
Among the acts he brought to World of Brew were local singer-songwriter Robb Brown, original West Wyoming duo John and Kate + Fate, regional solo musician Dan Avery and Candlebox guitarist and Pittston native Brian Quinn.
“John came to me and said, ‘How does this become more popular? Our regular customers who come for the craft beer are not here,’” Callahan said.
Suggesting they utilize an area of the lot outside the bar to draw warm-weather crowds, Callahan presented the idea of the pop-up concert series, and Barchi responded by offering him a role in the business.
“My end was to bring the Camp Rattler circus to Border Bar,” Callahan said, referring to the promotional group and arts community he’s fostered with friends and local artists. “We made a patio and bar area out of pallets. Everything is repurposed, except for the piece of the bar we got from the old East End in Wilkes-Barre. Even the umbrellas are made of old beer signs. It took weeks.
“It’s super simple. We put a fence around a piece of parking lot and made a spot where you can have bigger, national acts and a smaller crowd. Just enough for a great show.”
The rebranded Border Bar has already hosted Appalachian folk artist Sarah Holtz on its indoor stage and launched its Sunday Bloody Sunday series with locally-rooted songwriter Mike “MiZ” Mizwinski.
But the pop-up series will add another layer to the place’s entertainment value.
“We’re doing bluegrass, jazz, funk, reggae, everything,” Callahan said. “We’ll have lots of metal, a punk-rock barbecue; it’ll have something for everybody.”
The opening-night headliner starts things off heavy with Killcode, which features Exeter Township native Chas Banellis on lead guitar. The band has been described as a Southern-infused rock and metal outfit.
“They’re bad-ass,” Callahan said. “They’ve been on a world tour for two years. They’ve been the constant opening act for the final tour for Twisted Sister.”
Callahan likens Royal Hell, an Exeter-based band, to ’80s British rockers The Cult.
“Royal Hell is a soulful, more bluesy metal band,” he said.
And Callahan called Idol Hands his new favorite band from Scranton.
“Idol Hands will be the first full band to play the Camp Rattler Beer Garden stage,” he said. “They’re like a thrashy rock band.”
Idol Hands will follow Thomas the Red outdoors, and headliner Killcode will take the beer garden stage at 8 p.m. sharp. Royal Hell will bring the music inside at 9 p.m., and songstress Kaleigh Baker will perform from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.
“There couldn’t be a better night of music in NEPA this summer,” Callahan said.
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.
IF YOU GO
What: Camp Rattler Beer Garden at Border Bar presents Killcode with special guests Idol Hands, Royal Hell, Kaleigh Baker with Matt Walker and Thomas the Red, the Viking comic.
Where: Border Bar, 170 Laurel Plaza, South Township Blvd. (Pittston Bypass), Pittston
When: Doors open at 6 p.m. Thomas the Red performs at 6:30 p.m. outside, Idol Hands at 7 p.m. outside, Killcode at 8 p.m. outside, Royal Hell at 9 p.m. inside, and Kaleigh Baker with Matt Walker from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. inside.
Additional information: Cover charge is $7 and is payable at the door the evening of the event.