Survivor, the popular band from the ‘80s and ‘90s performed during a fundraising event for the Friends of Old Economy Village on a warm, summer Friday night.
Located in Ambridge, Old Economy Village is registered on the National Register of Historic Places and maintained by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission.
About 600 people gathered Friday for the concert, which drew older Survivor fans as well as some younger ones. They came to listen to the band play some old favorites, including perhaps their most famous song, Eye of the Tiger.
It was that very song that Lissa and Jim Weyand were waiting to hear.
“I remember that song from the movie ‘Rocky’ and loved it," Lissa Weyand said. "We were very excited, and this is just a nice venue.”
The Weyands from Beaver received their tickets as a gift from a friend. Jim said they had been to Old Economy for a wedding and were anxious to see how the concert would be set up.
“This is beautiful here, and to have a concert like this is amazing,” he said.
Fans came from around the Greater Pittsburgh area and other areas including Weirton, Youngstown and Virginia.
The doors opened early for the concert with the crowd starting to gather at 6 p.m. Guests like the Weyands brought blankets and chairs and purchased dinner while waiting for the local band, Bishop Clay from Sewickley, to perform at 7:30 p.m. Survivor appeared at 8:30 p.m.
According to Friends administrator Lynn Popovich, the programs of the village are run through the Friends of Old Economy, a nonprofit organization that helps to preserve the 6-acre, 17-building historic site.
The village was the home of the Harmony Society, a religious communal society that immigrated to the area from Germany. The Harmonists founded Economy in the early 1820s on the banks of the Ohio River and were known for their piety and industrial prosperity. According to Popovich, more than 14,000 visitors came through Old Economy in 2011 including over 4,500 school children.
Many nonprofits like the Friends are turning to more innovative ways to raise funds during difficult economic times. The concert came about when a group was brainstorming different fundraising ideas. As they researched available groups, “someone knew someone who knew someone” and the Friends were able to feature Survivor for their first concert.
“We thought it was perfect because we are trying to survive and here is the band Survivor,” said Popovich, who added that she, too, is a fan of the band.
“We thought it would be a unique opportunity for people to enjoy a beautiful evening sitting in the historic gardens with music transporting us back to the fun-filled days of our youth.”
Survivor also has a local connection to the area. The newest band member is Walter Tolentino, a graduate of Sewickley Academy and native of Shaler Township. Tolentino’s parents, Wilfrido and Aida, still live in Shaler and his sister, Adrienne Essey, lives in Dormont.
“This is the first time they will see me perform since I joined the group,” said Tolentino from his parent’s home.
Tolentino joined Survivor a year ago last June and now lives in Los Angeles. Getting to visit home while playing in the unique setting is great for the keyboard and guitar player.
“When I first heard where we were playing, it was a surprise to me—I thought it was an odd location,” he said, “But it is going to be nice to share my music with my family.”
Tolentino said the last year with the group has been “really, really fun.”
“I’m loving every second,” he said.
Early in the evening, he mingled with the crowd and posed for photos, clearly happy to back in his hometown with friends and family. During the concert, he was showcased a couple of times including a solo performance on the keyboards.
He also took the opportunity to wish his parents a happy 44th wedding anniversary.
The crowd also loved every second. Many sang along to the familiar songs and danced. When a few fireworks went off during the concert, they cheered.
“This has been a great performance,” said Doug Alderman of Baden. A former drummer himself, he was very familiar with Survivor’s music.
“The weather was perfect and the setting so unique – I enjoyed it,” he said.
By the time the gates opened, only general admission tickets for $30 were available. The few “Gold Seating” tickets for $50 had sold out in advance. Beer, beverages and food were also sold for the fundraising efforts.
Friends hoped to raise more than $45,000 at the concert. Popovich said they need approximately $125,000 to $150,000 a year to run Old Economy Village and provide services.
After the success of the first concert, Popovich said they hope to host more concerts in the future. They are already starting to come up with groups for the future.