Bethlehem Press

Tuesday, August 21, 2018
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO“Jakopa’s Punch Bowl,” 7 p.m. Feb. 9, Charles A. Brown Ice House, Bethlehem. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO“Jakopa’s Punch Bowl,” 7 p.m. Feb. 9, Charles A. Brown Ice House, Bethlehem.

Touchstone ‘Punch’-raiser returns

Friday, February 9, 2018 by LUKE MUENCH Special to The Press in Focus

A little more than two years ago, Jakopa’s Punch formed to perform at a Lehigh Valley cancer benefit and play three songs in honor of David Bowie, who died Jan. 16, 2016.

Since then, the band has become something of a staple of Touchstone Theatre, appearing on multiple occasions at theater venues and events.

After the success of Touchstone’s “Jakopa’s Punch Processional” last summer, “Jakopa’s Punch Bowl,” a Mardi Gras-themed musical revel of a fundraiser, returns at 7 p.m. Feb. 9, Charles A. Brown Ice House, Sand Island, 56 River St., Bethlehem.

Changes have been brewing behind the scenes for the last few months in the band’s lineup.

“Since the last show, our lead guitar player, Dan Leathersich, moved to Nashville to pursue songwriting,” says Touchstone Theatre Artistic Director James P. “JP” Jordan, “Punch Bowl” director and leader of the band. “We’ve replaced him with Robert Newell. Additionally, we’ve included a new member just for this year. Chloe Madison, one of our apprentices, will be playing the clarinet.”

That’s not the only new content audience members will hear. Jakopa’s Punch will perform new songs, including some from Touchstone’s upcoming play “Dictators for Dummies.”

“I’d say the people who came last year will hear some of their favorites of that set, and we have added a couple songs from the ‘Jakopa’s Punch Processional,’” Jordan says.

Jakopa’s will welcome a guest performer for a couple of songs.

“Lori Roberts, the catalyst for Jakopa’s forming back in the day, she’ll be sitting in for a song and perform ‘Sledgehammer’ by Peter Gabriel.”

While Touchstone Theatre usually holds performances in its own south side Bethlehem theater, Jordan felt that the Ice House was a better venue for ‘Jakopa’s Punch Bowl.”

“It’s just a venue that’s conducive to people dancing. We want it to feel like a party. I prefer personally to perform at venues that are more open spaces, somewhere outdoors works, big halls, so on. It leads to a great venue for partying, and the food and drink available will help with that.

“The first time we did it, we happened to have the big space to perform in, and Mardi Gras happened to be happening a few days after the event, so we just kind of rolled with it. And this year, it happened to work out that way, too.” Mardi Gras is Feb. 13.

While there’s much to be excited about in regards to the event, Jordan finds himself drawn to a feeling of nostalgia as he thinks back.

“The thing that I think I’m most excited about is getting to play a song from the ‘Processional.’ I haven’t touched it since back in July, so to play that song again is pretty excited. I loved the music I wrote for that. I’m also looking forward to seeing how some of the new material we’ve been working on goes.”

Tickets: In advance or at the door. Admission includes beer, Wine, and light fare. Touchstone Theatre box office, 321 E. Fourth St., Bethlehem; touchstone.org; 610-867-1689.