Local reunion concert blooms into fundraiser

Doug Thomas and Gary McCoy have been friends for 50 years.

They started their first band together – local favorite Holes in the Road – in Gary’s garage, played together in MF Rattlesnake in the ’70s and both moved to Atlanta to pursue music. McCoy stayed in Atlanta while Thomas eventually ended up in Knoxville, Tenn., before moving back to the Mahoning Valley a couple years ago.

These days they only get together a couple of times a year. But when they do, there’s going to be music involved.

”He’s bringing a grandbaby up to meet the Ohio connections,” Thomas said. ”As long as my old buddy was going to be in town, I decided to get some events together.”

McCoy, Thomas and drummer Gary Sloas will reunite for a Holes in the Road reunion today at Up a Creek Tavern in Howland. And McCoy and Thomas have organized a second concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Christ Episcopal Church in Warren that will serve as a fundraiser for Gregg’s Gardens, which is working to establish a garden district along Atlantic Street in Warren, planting wildflower gardens where abandoned houses once stood.

”We both knew (Gregg’s Gardens volunteer) Dennis Blank growing up and knew he was involved with community outreach,” Thomas said. ”He told us all about the Gregg’s Gardens operation, and we thought that would be a great thing … The proceeds will go to the beautification of Warren, which is something we feel strongly about and want to stay invested in.”

Saturday’s concert will be built around a concept that Thomas and McCoy first tried in Atlanta as part of a group of like-minded songwriters and musicians.

”The Power of Two” will feature some of the great rock duets of all time performed by Thomas and McCoy together or joined by some of their local musical friends, including Sloas, Dennis Csiszer, Liz Lewis, Rick Hartley, Jay Wonders, Rosalie Opalka and Tom and Cara Smeltzer.

”There are so many great duets,” Thomas said. ”There will be a lot Simon & Garfunkel, The Everly Brothers, Brewer & Shipley. We’re digging way back into the rock catalog, some things that aren’t necessarily duets but feature two singers, like The Beatles. There will be a lot of John and Paul stuff, the Bee Gees, a couple Sonny & Cher numbers.

Blank said he was surprised and pleased when he received the offer for the fundraiser and believes the show could bring in as much as $2,000 for the project. There is no admission fee, but donations will be collected at the door and refreshments will be sold in the parish hall at the church, 2627 Atlantic St. N.E.

”That place holds 300,” Blank said. ”If everyone drops $5 in the kitty and buys a couple sodas and a bag of potato chips, we could raise a couple thousand easily.”

For today’s show at Up a Creek, 4793 E. Market St., Holes members Thomas, McCoy and Sloas will be joined by Csiszer and Bob ”Rollo” Miller for a Holes in the Road set as part of a show by Thomas’ current band, The Main Street Lions, which also features Sloas, Csiszer, Miller and Lewis.

”It starts at 6 (p.m.) and will go until we run out of songs,” Thomas said.