Country store becomes center for ‘open pick’ nights
UNITYVILLE – “Improvise freely!” That defines ‘jam’ and the Unityville Country Store Jam Band embraces the definition with enthusiasm and a love for making music that has musicians and fans coming back for more. The band boasts as many as fourteen performers on some nights, playing and singing on the first Tuesday of the month throughout the year at the store located at the corner of Unityville and Waller Road.
Matt Eyer, a native of Unityville and a singer with the regional band , “Covert Action,” bought the empty building two years ago. The store was reopened and the jam started a year later with “open pick” nights inviting, bluegrass, folk, country, rock and pop musicians.
Regular Ray Steinruck of Town Hill, playing banjo and guitar with bands for more than 50-years, found his music schedule was stealing too much of his time. Ray said there was “always somewhere you had to be, something you had to do. Now, playing here is just plain fun.”
His stepson, Craig Johnson, a singer and guitar player, agrees and is now a fixture at the jam. You could call it ‘Talent Tuesday’ with the variety of instrumentalists featuring the piano, guitar and five-string banjo skills of Virginia Farr of Millville; the accordion playing of Stan Slodiskie of Sunbury; the guitar strumming and singing of Donna Julius of Jerseytown;
and the magic of the mandolin provided by Don Sitler of Berwick.
The smooth sounds continue through the evening as more music makers arrive to join the jam . As you arrive in Unityville and follow the music to the store, there is a pleasant distraction. The aroma of comfort food prepared by Matt Eyer and his staff and grandmother Sonia.
Much more than music, the store provides, milk, bread and subs seven days a week from 1O a.m to 8 p.m. The food wraps around the music, and the guests can’s get enough of both. Nina Houseknecht and Arla Woodling of Hughesville were at the jam for the second time, and say they will be back. Barbara Sewell of Philadephia, visiting, heard about the jam at a yard sale and loved the live bluegrass.
The feeling was unanimous. Everyone was having fun, happy to be there, listening to down home music in a small country store on a summer evening in Pennsylvania.