The Northern Appalachian Folk Festival, Inc. (NAFF) held its seventh annual celebration this weekend. 

People packed into the 500 block of Philadelphia Street to listen to the melodious sounds of The Clarks, who headlined the festival, Saturday night. People were watching from the nearby restaurants and apartments. 

Judy Holliday came up on stage to thank the sponsors of the festival before introducing The Clarks. 

Originating here at IUP around 1986, The Clarks have since released 11 studio albums over the course of more than 40 years. 

“We never thought we’d be playing the the middle of Philadelphia Street,” said lead singer Scott Blasey to the crowd. “Our first gig was in the basement of the Sigma Chi fraternity house.”

At the time, the band played covers, and that night they played for no money, but they did not care; they just wanted to play. The next year they wrote some original music and took second place in a band competition in Pittsburgh. These events solidified their decision to give the band a shot and make it a career.

The band consists of Scott Blasey, Rob James, Greg Joseph and Dave Minarik Jr., with the help of Gary Jacob, Skip Sanders and Noah Minarik while on tour. 

They describe their time together as spending time with one big extended family.

“Dave’s son Noah plays on this album and with us live, so saying that isn’t just a metaphor; it’s fact,” guitarist Rob James said on stage.

They played their biggest hits including “On Saturday,” “Penny On the Floor” and “Better Off Without You.” They also played “Trampoline,” a song from their new album “Between Now and Then Vol. 2” 

During their set, The Clarks brought drummer and Indiana native Dylan Murphy up on stage to perform a song with them with a special drum solo when the song ended. 

The performance marked the end of NAFF, always held the second weekend of September. The festival is “dedicated to preserving the past, promoting the present and securing the future of regional music, art, folkways, food-ways and other related forms of cultural expression through education, presentation and participation,” according to the NAFF website. 

The weekend is filled with music, food, street vendors, beer and Northern Appalachian history. 

There is also a “Walk of Fame” ceremony recognizing important contributions made by residents of the Northern Appalachian region. A full list of inductees can be found at naffinc.org

A full lists of the festival’s event and sponsors can be found on its website along with updates on events and news for next year’s festival.

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