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Tour gives group a chance to reach out to more fans



Published: Thu, October 19, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The video for 'Mr. Right Now' continues its Top 5 run in the GAC fan poll.

By GUY D'ASTOLFO

VINDICATOR ENTERTAINMENT WRITER

For the PovertyNeck Hillbillies, playing on the same bill with Aaron Tippin is an opportunity to make inroads into markets they've yet to crack.

"It's nice to be on the same record label with Aaron," said Dave Cramer, PNH's keyboardist, calling from his apartment. "He's been in the business a long time and he has zero attitude. He's a real pro, and he wants to see us succeed."

The Pittsburgh-based Hillbillies will play the middle segment of an Oct. 26 concert at Youngstown's Chevrolet Centre, sandwiched between Shane Owen and Tippin.

It will be the first country concert at the Chevy Centre, and comes almost one year after the downtown arena opened. The arena's first event, a 3 Doors Down concert, was Oct. 29, 2005.

The Hillbillies have been sporadically serving as an opener for the platinum-selling Tippin, playing a 60- to 90-minute set. However, since Youngstown is a market they've already cracked, the band might extend its set at the Chev.

"Aaron won't mind if we play longer in Youngstown." said Cramer. "It's our backyard."

Adding fans

Youngstown may be a second hometown for PNH, but it wasn't always that way.

"It took us a long time to build this market," said Cramer. "We played at the Cellar [in Struthers] six or seven times before we could sell it out."

Nowadays, the bandwagon gets fuller with every pass. Recalling a show two weeks ago at Penn State Shenango in Sharon, Pa., Cramer said, "It seemed like half the people there came up to us and said 'this is the first time we've seen you play, but we're definitely going to go to the show at Chevy Centre.'"

The last time the Hillbillies came to town was a chilly evening in early June in an outdoor show at The Cellar.

That night, as the segment when the band introduces each member began, fiddle player Chris Higbee snuck up to the bar's rooftop. When his name was called, the spotlight swung upward, and the fiddler on the roof launched into a solo.

Cramer said it was all part of the game plan.

"We'll do just about anything to shock you," he said. "Whatever it takes to make sure you feel better. Our show is a 90-minute escape from reality."

'Mr. Right Now'

The hard-working Hillbillies are beginning to reap the fruits of their labor, gradually making the transition from a regional to a mainstream act.

The video for their single "Mr. Right Now" has been in the weekly Top 5 of the Great American Country fan poll for five weeks and counting. The block-party video features a cameo by Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

A half-hour, behind-the-scenes look at the making of that video will premiere at 7:30 p.m. Friday on WQED TV-13, Pittsburgh.

In addition, WQED, Rust Records and Cort Productions are also releasing a DVD that features the television program and the complete "Mr. Right Now" music video. The DVD contains 30 minutes of bonus features not seen in the show, including a live concert performance of "Mr. Right Now," interviews with the band and a tour of the PovertyNeck bus.

A segment from an Emmy-nominated documentary about the band that WQED produced last year is also included. The DVD is available for 14.98 plus shipping and handling and applicable sales tax. To order, go to www.wqed.org or call (800) 274-1307.

The band is also featured in People magazine's Country Special issue, on newsstands now.

"Mr. Right Now" is included in a section titled "Download This," which lists songs dubbed as future hits of Nashville's new wave. On Oct. 27, the song will be available for download at www.people.com/countrydownloads.

The country music issue will be available at newsstands all month.




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