The spirit of Nashville’s Bluebird Café is flying into Altoona. Yes, Altoona!
The Bluebird is a legendary music venue in the country music capital. It is a place where songwriters share the powerful stories behind their lyrics.
This “in-the-round” performance inspired JT Garber and Dana Snyder to launch a new company here in Blair County and bring the compelling entertainment to the historic Mishler Theatre.
The pair founded Round The Mountain Music several months ago. Their inaugural event – From Nashville: Songs & Stories – will be on February 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mishler. It will feature hit songwriters Travis Meadows, Erin Enderlin, and Levi Lowrey. These artists are the writers behind hit songs from musicians such as Zac Brown Band, Alan Jackson, Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, Lee Ann Womack and more.
Garber, who grew up in Bellwood, is an amateur musician. Snyder, whose hobby is songwriting, grew up in Iowa and spent time in Boston. Her love of country music drew her to Nashville, where she had the opportunity to meet many people in the country music business.
Those connections are instrumental as the duo get Round The Mountain Music off the ground.
“Nashville is very tight-knit,” remarked Snyder. “Everybody knows everybody. For this first show, I handpicked these people because of the quality show they would provide.”
Added Garber: “Make no mistake about it, this really started with Dana’s relationship with these writers.”
Both Garber and Snyder are excited to introduce in-the-round performance to what they see as a blossoming arts and business community.
As a native, Garber recalls a time not too long ago when downtown Altoona was less than bustling.
“I’m excited,” he added. “There’s a sense of community that’s growing. Now, small business owners are joining hands and bringing back the mom and pop mentality. Being a part of that is incredibly exciting to us. We want (our business) to be part of the arts movement. We want it to be part of the Altoona revival.”
New to the area, even Snyder senses the winds of change and is excited to partner with Garber for the venture. She lauded the entrepreneurs and artists who are setting the pace.
“Seeing what people have done to pave that path gave us the courage to do this,” she stressed. “We felt that energy and said, ‘we can add to that.’ If that wasn’t happening, I’m not sure we would have taken this step.”
Round The Mountain Music will sponsor regular shows with various artists. Plans are already underway for an April event.
But, first things first. Garber and Snyder are actively spreading the word for the February 22 event.
“We want folks to have a good time, and we want to prove this concept,” said Snyder.
In-the-round performance caters best to country music because of the stories behind the songs, but Garber stressed that those who attend do not have to be country music aficionados.
“You walk away feeling like you have connected to someone,” he noted. “It’s a totally unique kind of show.”