On the snowy night of February 17, most people probably stayed inside, warmed up next to a fire, or watched a movie, not wanting to risk driving on the slush-filled streets. However, there were still some who dared to venture out to The Fun House in South Bethlehem because they knew they could not miss the Trouble City All-Stars’ performance. And, boy, were they right to make the trip.
Meet the Band
As per their Facebook page, the Trouble City All-Stars are a four-piece roots, rock, and reggae band based in Bethlehem. The members include Todd Juknevic on drums and vocals; Seth Juknevic on bass; Chris McDermott on guitar; and Josh Kravette on the saxophone, keyboard, and electronic woodwind instrument. They formed the band in 2012 and are inspired by the likes of Bob Marley and The Clash, as well as “anything good with positive vibrations,” to create a unique sound that brings positive vibes to every hosting venue.
At The Fun House, the band’s unique sound was crafted through an intricate combination of common reggae melodies and with rock sounds interspersed. The reggae style was lead by the popular offbeat guitar riff coupled with a keyboard emulating a steel drum. Every so often, a psychedelic effect was added via the electronic woodwind instrument, which looks similar to a clarinet but sounds like an instrument from outer space. When the band wanted to add rock-inspired sounds, they turned to the guitar and saxophone for thicker, richer tones, as well as what sounded like a quicker tempo. Their unique sound created an uplifting atmosphere that had everyone in The Fun House feeling the music.
As the snow fell outside on the unusually quiet East 4th Street, The Fun House’s weekly Saturday “Rock-N-Roll Nite” was ablaze with the All-Stars’ foot-tapping rhythms and dance-inducing melodies. Laid-back reggae sounds with the vocals to match coaxed patrons across the bar to relax and enjoy their beers as if they were sitting on a Caribbean beach. Raspy guitar solos and hearty saxophone features had people out of their chairs and on the dance floor, some swaying to the rock-and-roll-like beats and others exerting a bit more effort to portray their appreciation of the sound to the band. This swing from moderate tranquility to excited euphoria would occur not only between songs but within songs themselves, creating a blissful feeling that had people smiling and enjoying themselves all night.
This atmosphere is present in all of the band’s Fun House shows. Lehigh University senior Jake Lohman, a native of Hellertown, has been to multiple All-Stars shows in recent months. Part of the reason he enjoys the band’s music is because “they connect well with the crowd by keeping it involved in the show.” In addition to the frequent reggae-rock contrast, the band often interacts with the crowd between songs to keep the energy flowing through the room. Also, during intermissions in the action, the band members would join the crowd and chat with the audience members, creating a connection that evoked a greater response to the music. At the end of that snowy night, the Trouble-City All-Stars brought positive vibes and fantastic music to South Bethlehem. “They bring everyone together. Different people all come together to talk about and listen to the music,” said Lohman. And that is exactly what happened.
The All-Stars typically perform at The Fun House once a month, so you may have the opportunity to hear them play soon. In the meantime, they have one more Lehigh Valley show scheduled in March on Friday, 3/30, 8:00 p.m. at One Centre Square in Easton.