JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Each year, some up-and-coming musicians perform at the AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival, which organizers and fans say could quickly grow to national prominence, playing for bigger crowds and get higher festival bills.
Shelley Johansson, director of marketing and communications for the Johnstown Area Heritage Association, names Grace Potter, Andy Frasco & The UN, Snarky Puppy, Anders Osborne, Trombone Shorty and The Commonheart as acts that have followed this trajectory.
The same buzz precedes some performers heading to the 2022 event taking place Friday and Saturday at Peoples Natural Gas Park in downtown Johnstown.
Johansson singled out Karina Rykman, a self-proclaimed “musical chameleon” who performed on the show “Today,” soundchecked with Phish at Madison Square Garden, and toured Japan and the UK.
“We try to pick the acts that are like on the way, the acts that are going to blow up, the acts that we can’t afford next year,” Johansson said. “And, this year, by the way, it’s Karina Rykman, without a doubt. His career has gone stratospheric since we made that booking. This is one of those reservations that is going to make us feel like we really know what we’re doing.
Ron Carnevali, chairman of the festival, said he had “always believed that an important mission of the festival was to introduce people to new music that they had never seen before”.
“I think over the years we’ve established some credibility with regional music lovers that whether they’ve heard of the bands or not, they’re likely to see a good show,” Carnevali said. .
Carnevali mentioned Big Something as a rising band in this year’s lineup.
The group, which combines rock, funk, pop and improvisation, has performed at top events including the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, Peach Music Festival and Lockn’ Festival.
“When these big festivals that have a hundred bands do these festival posters, they put their headliners in big letters at the top and then they kind of work down the list and the size of the guy gets smaller as you go down the list,” says Carnevali. “Big Something’s character size has grown year on year on these big posters, and they’re playing a lot of big festivals in leading roles. I think they’re going to be a really cool band for us and somebody. ‘one who could break out, turn out to be the kind of headliner, big festival headliner that we can’t afford anymore.
Big Something is due to happen at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Rykman, bassist and vocalist, will close the festival with a two-hour show that begins at 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
She told fans to expect “a good rootin’-tootin’ time out there in Johnstown, PA”
Rykman played at Flood City with Marco Benevento in 2021.
“I’m thrilled to be back and leading my own band this time around,” Rykman said. “I can’t wait to be back.”
His influences range from jam bands, such as Phish, The Allman Brothers Band and the Grateful Dead, all of which provide “much of the fabric of who I am”, to jazz, punk, heavy metal, indie sounds from the early 2000s and the “big thick rock grooves” of Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, the James Gang, ZZ Top and Cream.
Rykman’s musical tastes have been “wildly eclectic” since childhood.
“Music, from the start, was the only thing that interested me from a young age,” Rykman said. “Then once I started playing, when I was about 12, I just had complete tunnel vision to play guitar, play bass. Then I started playing in very quickly thereafter. It’s all I wanted to do and all that made sense to me. … It became my path because of an insatiable desire for it to be the thing I do.
Rykman is one of 14 acts on the program.
Friday’s lineup consists of Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, Vanessa Collier, The Fritz, Rusty Shackles, Shelf Life String Band and Silver Screen, with Railroad Earth headlining at 8:30 p.m. Spin Doctors headline Saturday’s program which also includes Rykman, Big Something, Buffalo Rose, Ally Venable Band, Kevin Dale and Habatat.