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Music added to Parkersburg half marathon experience

July 25, 2019
Paul LaPann - Managing Editor ( , News and Sentinel Half Marathon

PARKERSBURG - Live music is expected to add to the experiences of runners and walkers participating in the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon and Two-Mile Race next month.

Those not participating in the races also are welcome to listen to the two bands set to perform on Friday, Aug. 16 in downtown Parkersburg.

Parkersburg City Councilman Jeff Fox has put together the "13.1 Friday Jam" featuring Willie Phoenix & The Soul Underground at 7:30 p.m. and The Sadie Johnson Band at 5:30 p.m. in the 600 block of Market Street.

Article Photos

Photo Provided The Sadie Johnson Band will perform Friday, Aug. 16, in downtown Parkersburg as part of the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon and Two-Mile race.

The stage will be set up near the St. Francis Xavier Parish Center at 609 Market St., where the runners and walkers will receive a pre-race pasta dinner from 4:30-9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16, Fox said. There is no charge to attend the concert.

The half marathon (13.1 miles) and two-mile race begin the next morning, Aug. 17, at Third and Juliana streets.

Photo Provided Willie Phoenix & The Soul?Underground will perform Friday, Aug. 16, in downtown Parkersburg as part of the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon and Two-Mile race.

Art Smith, logistical director for the News and Sentinel races, said the live music will be a good addition to the running event.

"We like any improvement in the experience for the participants," Smith said.

Fox, who has run in past News and Sentinel Half Marathons, believes the concert will enhance the race weekend experience for the runners. The family-friendly event also is designed to entertain fans, volunteers and citizens everyone, Fox said.

People can bring soft drinks, snacks and a camping chair or blanket for seating, Fox said.

Fox discussed the music event with race organizers and other local supporters of the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon.

Private donations are paying the cost of hiring the two bands, Fox said. The city is providing the stage and barricades.

Fox, who contacted the bands and will handle the sound and stage for the concert, provided the following information about the performers.

Sadie Johnson, a native of Bloomington, Ind., came to this area to attend Marietta College. "She is quickly becoming one of several younger noteworthy blues guitarists. Johnson has performed with Samantha Fish, Kate Moss, Blues Traveler and other established acts from the blues community. Her skills, coupled with a wonderful attitude and seemingly boundless energy," will start the evening off with a lot of enthusiasm, Fox said.

"Willie Phoenix (of Columbus) is no stranger to Parkersburg. He first performed in the early 1980s, just after his debut album was released on A&M records. Like many musicians, his love of music was handed down by his father, who played in the bands of Muddy Waters and Sonny Boy Williamson.

"Phoenix grew up being heavily influenced by his time watching the blues legends rehearse, but he also found inspiration from some likely and unlikely sources which a young man in the 1960s might stumble across. As for the likely, the Beatles, the Hollies, the Who, the Rolling Stones and other famous bands of the British Invasion caught his ear.

"As for the unlikely, a family record collection containing albums from Hank Williams, Buck Owens and Jerry Reed also added to Phoenix's writing style. Music fans will hear a little bit of all these influences throughout Phoenix's original tunes," Fox said.

As for Phoenix's high-energy performance, Fox said, it will leave listeners believing they just watched a guitar player expend a half marathon's worth of energy.



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