Even a seven-hour, nearly 400-mile car ride couldn’t keep Christine Hughes from seeing one of her favorite bands reunite.
Hughes, who lives outside of Boston, made a lengthy solo journey Friday afternoon to see Suddenly, Tammy! reunite at the Chameleon Club on the opening night of Lancaster Roots & Blues.
The sixth annual Lancaster Roots & Blues music festival will continue through Sunday, with more than 70 artists performing at eight venues over the three days.
Last year, Roots & Blues attracted 10,000 music fans to Lancaster city. In a previous interview with LNP, festival founder Rich Ruoff said he hopes to maintain or grow attendance in 2019.
Suddenly, Tammy! was among the most anticipated acts of this year’s festival. The piano-driven Lancaster rock trio made a name for itself both locally and nationally in the ’90s. It signed with Warner Brothers for a time and earned covetable gigs opening for The Cranberries and Jeff Buckley.
After the Warner Brothers deal went south, the band took a break. Suddenly, Tammy! didn’t perform again as a three-piece until Friday night, its first time in 23 years. Suddenly, Tammy! is pianist and vocalist Beth Sorrentino, her brother, drummer Jay Sorrentino, and their friend, bassist Ken Heitmueller.
The last time Hughes saw the band was when it opened for The Wolfgang Press in 1995. She follows Beth Sorrentino on social media, where she learned of the band’s reunion. As soon as the weather looked clear, she bought a ticket.
She was particularly excited to hear the band perform “Mt. Rushmore,” which Beth Sorrentino confirmed had made the reunion set list on her Facebook page. That further sealed the deal for Hughes.
“I was like, OK, I definitely have to come for that,” Hughes said.
Jack Byerly, of State College, was anticipating hearing his favorite Suddenly, Tammy! song, “Hard Lesson.” Byerly discovered the band about 10-12 years ago when he heard one of the band’s songs on a public radio show.
Like Hughes, Byerly also learned of the band’s reunion on Facebook.
“I bought a ticket that night,” Byerly said.
Byerly made the 2-hour drive with his girlfriend, Catie Simpson. Simpson has her own connection to the band.
“My dad was super into them when I was little,” Simpson said. “I grew up listening to them kind of subconsciously. Then he (Byerly) had me listen to them, and I was, like, this sounds kind of familiar.”
Also at the Chameleon Club were friends Ted Gallagher and BJ Feerrar, both of Lancaster. This year marks Gallagher’s third or fourth Roots & Blues, and Feerrar’s first time attending the festival. They were looking forward to seeing Lancaster musician Corty Byron.
Gallagher said the scope and quality of the festival keeps him coming back.
“Rich does an incredible job,” Gallagher said of Ruoff. “I can’t imagine, just looking at the list of bands and coordinating with all the venues, and then the talent. The bands they pull in are pretty phenomenal for Lancaster.”
One of the performers last night was Hubby Jenkins; we went live with his performance at the Elks Lodge. Keep up-to-date with our Facebook Lives as the weekend continues.