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does the cougar still live here?
By John Fulmer
PHOTOS COURTESY OF EASTERN COUGAR FOUNDATION
Pennsylvania, a blip on the map in southern Tioga County, is well known regionally for its rattlesnake roundup. What most people don’t know is that Morris has its own CSI unit. As in, Cougar Sighting Investigation.
Page 8 MOUNTAIN HOME NOVEMBER 2007
Morris resident Kerry Geykis, a forester and former Tioga County planner, is part of the Eastern Cougar Foundation, a nonprofit based in Harman, West Virginia. Geykis donates a great deal of his time sleuthing into the hundreds of reported cougar sightings east of the Mississippi River. He is especially interested in Pennsylvania sightings, and though his true believers insist the cougar lives in the commonwealth’s mountains and forests, Geykis and the ECF have yet to verify the big cat’s existence here. His interest was piqued after spending years working in the woods and as a hunter and trapper. He’d never seen a mountain lion but kept hearing reports all of the time. “People were adamant and they weren’t lying to me,” Geykis said. “I mean, most of them weren’t lying—we’ve caught a couple liars—but, in the East, most of them really thought they had seen a cougar. And I thought, ‘Well, they can’t all be wrong.’ In fact, I figured quite a few of them had to be right. “So, for a period of time in my life, I was really looking for cougars,” Geykis said. “I would sit in a tree somewhere and try to lure them in. And I got deer, weasels, dogs, coyotes. Never a cougar. But all those years, I kept looking until I finally said, ‘Hey, I need some help here. There’s something wrong here. I’m in the woods more than all of these other people put together and I haven’t seen a cougar.’”
Like most of those who claim to have seen a cougar, Geykis fervently wants to believe this “indicator species” and “apex predator” has returned to the Twin Tiers. The few cougars found recently in the Eastern woods have either been released or have escaped from private zoos, which are legal in some states if the animals have proper permits. John C. Gallant shot a wild cougar in 1967 while squirrel hunting in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, but its characteristics matched those of Costa Rican cougars. South American cats have come to be an important source of “pets” for folks with private menageries. There is some evidence, however, that wild cougars may be reproducing in the East. On the ECF Web site under the heading “KY Kitten,” it says in June 1997 a pickup truck hit an eightpound female cougar kitten on Highway 850 in western Floyd County, Kentucky, which is in Appalachia near the borders of Virginia and West Virginia. The driver also noticed a larger and a smaller shape, probably the mother and a
PHOTO BY JOHN FULMER
Kerry Geykis, above, poses with his dog, Turq. Geykis, of Morris, Pennsylvania, volunteers with the Eastern Cougar Foundation, a network of mountain-lion researchers. Right: “KY Kitten” was killed by a truck in Kentucky near the border of Virginia and West Virginia, and it provides some of the best evidence that cougars may be reproducing in the wild in the eastern United States.
sibling, because the kitten was too young to be alone. The driver took the body to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, where it was frozen and later analyzed. The kitten lacked most captive-cat signiﬁers. She had not been declawed nor had she been tattooed, which is often the case for pet cougars. She was not wearing a tag or collar. However, the site says, “DNA analysis indicated that the kitten’s maternal ancestry included genes from South America, pointing to the pet trade . . . but paternal ancestry was shown to be North American. “This kitten is important for several reasons: she was a highway fatality, and biologists claim that if cougars were present in any numbers some would get hit by cars; she indicates that reproduction is going on in the wild; and she exempliﬁes the mixing of cougars from various origins that is probably occurring in the Eastern woods.”
An indicator species helps deﬁne an environment’s characteristics; its presence means a more natural ecosystem is in place. An apex predator,
as the name indicates, is a hunter at the head of the food chain, and the eastern cougar’s extirpation (a fancy word for “wiped out”) was the result of several factors related to its high ranking. It is the largest cat in North America (fourthlargest in the world) and had the greatest distribution of any mammal in the continent until man usurped its top spot. But when the Colonists arrived in the New World, the cougar was a mystery. According to the ECF Web site, the Colonists “were familiar with wolves but had no knowledge of cougars, because cougars live
Please See Cougar on page 10
Page 2 MOUNTAIN HOME
By JOHN FULMER
before his Edison Machine, a chest-high cabinet of burnished oak, Ed Clute wound its hand crank and gingerly set the stylus down on a record spinning on the turntable. The record, like the machine, is vintage, from the 1920s, when Edison’s Diamond Disc Phonographs were all the rage, a must-have for flapper-era audiophiles, equivalent perhaps to today’s top-of-line iPod or, better yet, a home-theater sound system.
PHOTOS BY JOHN FULMER
ED CLUTE PLAYS A TUNE ON HIS MASON-HAMLIN GRAND PIANO AT HIS WATKINS GLENS HOME. CLUTE WILL HEADLINE THE MOUNTAIN HOME WINTER JAZZ FEST ON MARCH 1 AT THE PENN WELLS HOTEL.
he ten-inch wide records used on the machines are one-quarter-inch thick. The eighty-rpm discs, a transitional technology from the earlier cylinderrecording method and the thirty-three-rpm vinyl lp, are heavy as serving platters and made of an ungodly chemical mixture of phenol, formaldehyde, woodflour and solvent. As the needle slips into the record’s groove, a slightly scratchy ragtime stomp bleats out from the “horn,” or speaker, hidden behind a grille. Except for record collectors and amateur archivists like Clute, the song, which regales the listener to the joys and wonders of Wisconsin, has been long forgotten. Clute himself can’t think of its title or the name of the band off the top of his head. But that’s understandable. Clute, who, along with his Dixie Five Plus One, will headline the first Mountain Home Winter Jazz Fest on March 1, is a professional musician, a classically trained pianist, and a lover of ragtime and early jazz. His studio, in which the Edison machine sits, is a minor museum, stuffed with sound stuff. There are three pianos in the center of the room: two MasonHamlin grands, one of which is also a player piano, and a Foster upright foot-pump player. It would take an assistant or two to catalog the records, tapes, CDs, and piano rolls stacked in the shelves that cover the studio’s walls. And since Clute is blind, they all had to be coded with a braille writer and elaborately organized. But instead of worrying too much about whether he can identify a band or its nearly 100-year-old ditty, Clute sways in front of his prize machine with a childlike look of delight on his face, blissed out by a song to which Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald might have danced The Charleston. Obedience to minutia, the curse of too many collectors, doesn’t seem to be his problem. Clute also keeps an archive in his head. Ask him to play a ragtime-era song or one of the standards from the Great American Songbook, and he doesn’t hesitate. Nor does he say much, except perhaps, “Oh, that’s a great song.” He just plays it. And flawlessly. But this talent took years of practice.
ED CLUTE SLIPS AN EDISON DIAMOND DISC ON HIS EDISON MACHINE. A PRECURSOR TO THE MODERN PHONOGRAPH, IT IS ONE OF HIS PRIZE POSSESSIONS. THE FIRST EDISONS WENT ON SALE IN 1912.
lute, who is sixty-four, was born and, for the first six years of his life, lived in the house next to the studio. High on a hill in Watkins Glen, New York, it offers a stunning view of Seneca Lake. Clute said his mother encouraged his interest in music. “My mother says I was playing the piano at the age of three” Clute said. “I went to the Batavia School for the Blind when I was seven and studied all the subjects—math, English, history—but with a big emphasis on music.” After graduating from Batavia in 1964, he headed to the New England Conservatory in Boston, where he spent four “wonderful years.” During the summer, he attended the Amherst Summer Music Center in Maine, which is no longer in existence, but Clute described it as “a very good music school.” After graduating from the conservatory, he met up with Jean Casadesus, a French classic pianist and the son of Robert and Gaby Casadesus. Jean CasaPlease See Home on page 10
David Davies Built His Dream House in Miniature
ORIGINALLY FROM CONNECTICUT, DAVID DAVIES AND HIS WIFE, BARBARA, BECAME ENAMORED WITH WELLSBORO THIRTEEN YEARS AGO. THAT LOVE AFFAIR LED THEM TO BUY A HOME HERE, AFTER RETIRING A YEAR AGO. THEY PLANNED TO REMODEL THEIR HOME ON WALN STREET AND DID SO AFTER DAVID BUILT A MODEL OF THE PROJECT (SEE OPPOSITE PAGE). THE FINISHED PROJECT IS AT LEFT.
Story and Photographs By CINDY DAVIS MEIXEL
. . . Then Made This Dream Come True
featured The Wellsboro Diner. He was intrigued. Coincidentally, a day later, his copy of Roadside (“a journal dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of a truly unique American institution—the diner”) arrived in the mail. The issue featured “A Walk Through Wellsboro” on its cover. Davies was enthralled. “I took off for Wellsboro that next weekend,” he recalls. “I came here and fell in love with the place.” In addition to The Wellsboro Diner, the town’s gaslit boulevard, the Penn Wells Hotel, Arcadia Theatre, Victorian homes, and townsfolk captivated Davies. MOUNTAIN HOME “All the people I met were friendly and open. People would actually stop and say ‘Hello!,’” Davies relates. “I went into a barber shop and sat and talked for two hours.” He soon returned with wife Barbara, who became equally enchanted with Wellsboro, and the couple began a twelve-year love affair with the community, culminating in a move to town one year ago, after retiring from their jobs in Connecticut. During their many trips to town, the couple toured several homes for sale and eventually purchased an inconspicuous, all-white home on Waln Street. But, Page 9
wenty minutes after arriving in Wellsboro for the first time, David Davies phoned his wife back home in Connecticut. “Do you remember Bedford Falls in It’s A Wonderful Life?,” he asked. “Well, I’m standing in the middle of it.” An avid admirer of all things Americana, Davies could attribute his discovery of Wellsboro’s enchanting small-town charm to “divine diner destiny.” A few days before his initial trek to Wellsboro, Davies had watched a PBS special on diners that MARCH 2008
By KERRY GYEKIS AND TERRY V. BABB
It was also the first morning of antlered deer season in a very lowgrade, basically dark environment: a swamp, in a misty rain. I was sneaking to a spot on a hillside with a view and it was a long hike. My oldest son Keto was in front and completely unaware of my antics. That was probably a good thing. Times like this are kind of dangerous for me as I tend to think about a lot of things and I also know I’ve got to remain focused on one thing. So I try to do both, a Gyekis tradition. Whether hunting or working as a forester on someone’s land, I’ve always hummed songs—and written stories—as I go. Now, after this past year of ballroom dancing, I had found myself figuring the beat and sneak/walking to that darn beat. In fact, I couldn’t forget it. Aarg! Okay. That part was fine, but I had to find a way not to click my heels at the end of the quick, quick part. Not good in deer country. I switched to the song “Caminito,” a tango. The change was immediate. First a left step and then a right, each taking two beats, then the left again and a hold on that and point the left foot a bit as I stepped to the right with my right, another two beats. Finally I slid the left foot over to the right on seven and held on eight. I repeated it again and again and then the crossover with the right foot and a promenade to the left at a log and finally a corte to prevent a limb from severing my head from my body. I was now more alert. Interesting. Quite frankly, the whole ballroom thing has been a new world for me. It is something I never thought I would be doing even though I grew up near Pittsburgh and had a father who played drums Page 8
Terry and Maureen Babb cut a rug during a local ballroom dancing session. The Babbs are part of The Endless Mountain Dance Club, which meets to dance and improve its members health, both physical and mental. At top: an illustration of dance steps from How to Improve Your Social Dancing, which was published in 1956. Other illustrations from the book are in the article.
PHOTO BY TINA TOLINS
he beat was slow, slow, quick, quick. Or probably better described as slush, slush, slop, slop. The time was four beats to the measure. The song was ‘The Lady is a Tramp,’ a fox-trot standard.
PHOTO BY TINA TOLINS
here’s no doubt about it, ballroom and Latin dancing is changing the way people feel about exercise, and themselves!
For those skeptics who don’t believe in the power of the mind in health and medicine, I’ve listed the physical proof first. Millions of people every year are enjoying the many benefits that these forms of dance provide. From physical, mental and social standpoints, our favorite recreation is one of the best overall forms of low impact/high aerobic workouts available. It’s fun, it can be free, and best of all it’s always done with someone else. Here are just a few of the many benefits Ballroom offers:
The Power of Dance
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL BENEFITS
Hug Theory: The dance position used in Ballroom and Latin Dancing is very similar to a hug. It is believed that this is part of the attraction of B&L dancing; you get the security of a hug without the need for intimacy. Hugs are truly therapeutic and the ballroom circle does a lot of hugging as well as their dance positions, that’s a whole lotta hugging going on. Self-Esteem: The first time I took my wife in an underarm turn, she almost broke my hand she squeezed so tight, and ‘Someone might notice me’ was her explanation. She went on to a national championship, and then became a teacher then a performer. My wife and I, and almost everyone I know who does B&L, have found a deeper self-worth and hold a greater value in themselves. Confidence: Many ballroom dancers have experienced the thrill (rush) of dancing in front of people. This is one of American’s Top Ten fears. Overcoming this fear increases confidence in dance, in one’s self and in life. Since I started more than eleven years ago, I approach every challenge in my life with a solid (but realistic) confidence. Most of the ballroom dancers I know are the same. Social Ease: There is documentation supporting the theory that ‘comfort and ease in social situations’ is one of the four primary needs in all individuals (almost every philosophy, psychology and self-help book has the list). From weekly exposure (and a bit of trial and error), people become much more at ease in a social situation. They learn to engage in conversation, proper social etiquette (one of the biggest social ‘phobias.’) to ask someone to dance (a big first step for many people). It even helps people deal with crowds. All in all the ultimate source for social edification and eventually comfort. Posture, Appearance and Balance: B&L gives better posture, which in turn gives one a much more attractive appearance. If your ego from looking so good doesn’t throw you off, the improved posture improves balance as well. This in turn will help one to move more gracefully, which is explained in the next benefit. Grace and Poise: Through improved balance and self esteem, one tends to stand and move in a much more polished and pleasant manner. Clumsiness is overcome, which also increases confidence and social ease. Psychological Escape: No matter what you do in life, you’ve got to take a break sometime! Ballroom provides a temporary escape from the cares of the world and its pressures and for a few hours a week gives people freedom and enjoyment, invigorating them for the normal responsibilities. Emotional Lifeline: For many people, there is emptiness, loneliness, something missing in their life. Ballroom offers something wonderful to fill that void.”
From the Ballroom Dance Passion Web site: http://ballroom-dance-resource.com/betterhealth.htm
While not a proven scientific fact, ballroom dancing has been shown to induce a phenomenon known as ‘spontaneous smiling.’ Dance continued from page 9
did not. What was driving this? Something else struck me. There were people in the group I knew who were lawyers, janitors, doctors, secretaries, teachers, artists, construction workers, and retired whatevers. This group crossed just about every social and economic boundary in our local society. So this ballroom phenomenon was not a class thing. Hmmm.
THE PHYSICAL BENEFITS
Dancing for Health
I also came to realize as time went on that it was not about “Dancing with the Stars.” It was about social dancing with an emphasis on community health— both mental and physical—focus, and fun! And it was happening all over our region of north central Pennsylvania and New York’s Finger Lake country. People from all walks of life are doing this for a bunch of reasons. To give you an idea of the breadth of those reasons, I’ll introduce you to some folks in the Twin Tiers. The first is a couple that has been involved
Please See Dance on page 11
Cardiovascular: Ballroom and Latin dancing (henceforth called B&L) can raise the heart rate anywhere from eighty to 120 beats per minute, the equivalent of any strength training or aerobic program I have heard of. Sustained in two-minute bursts over a forty-five-minute period will build not only your heart’s strength, but it’s endurance, too. Muscle Tone: B&L dancing, when danced at an intermediate to advanced level of technique, uses the perfect blend of isometric and isotonic resistance (the two key ingredients to muscle building and toning). The blend and use of the muscles is perfect for building beautiful tone in the muscles without building a lot of muscle mass. Joints: According to the American Journal of Medicine, the best way to avoid arthritis, early arthritis and to remedy current joint discomfort is to continue to use the joints in a controlled manner. The beautiful rise and fall of waltz demonstrates this beautifully. The Spinal Column: Before B&L, I had a chronic back problem and looked like I had curvature of the spine. When I stand as I used to, compared to what my natural posture now looks like thanks to ballroom, I look at least 3 inches taller. The frame or posture maintained places the spine in a natural and correct position, even more correct than when standing or sitting naturally! Plus that puts all your organs in alignment, which is now thought by many doctors and chiropractors to fight sickness, disease, fatigue and more. Respiratory: Many track greats know that a strong set of lungs gets plenty of oxygen, which makes the heart work easier, which in turns allows us to dance and have fun longer! That’s why sprinters run a lot of ‘wind’ bursts. Brief bursts to up the heart-rate quickly, then bringing it down and doing this repeatedly. This is similar to dancing at a party, club or ballroom.
PA’s Elk Herd Is Worth A Look
This bull elk wears a garland of vegetation. During mating season or ‘rut,’ excited bulls thrash around in the underbrush with their antlers, and these headdresses are common. The fall rut is one of the best time to view elk in the several Pennsylvania counties that are home to the herd.
By John Fulmer
t’s fall and the sounds of love will once again fill the air in Elk Alley. By that we mean screaming and bugling. Grunting and bellowing. Huffing and puffing from aggressively flared nostrils. The loud clack of antler-on-antler contact. Yes, it’s mating season for Pennsylvania’s wild elk herd, when the big fellows with an overabundance of chest hair look for the girl of their dreams. But it’s never easy. Faint heart never won fair cow. “This is the time of year it gears up,” said Lisa Bainey, park manager at Cameron County’s Sinnemahonig State Park, which has a program of guided elk watches that lasts until October 20. “The bulls are vying for dominance over the herd. It goes on until the second week of October, but usually by the first week in October, the big bulls, the dominant bulls are pretty worn out. There’s a lot of fighting going on. It’s interesting to watch because if there’s a cow in heat, they are just ravenous.” During the “rut,” as it’s called, big, older bulls have Page 1
to “bugle” like crazy all the time, hardly have a minute to eat, and must fight off lesser bulls to control their harems, which normally contain fifteen to twenty cows, though Bainey said some harems can reach twentyfive females. The rut is crucial to the bull’s legacy, but its rigorous demands—it can cause a twenty-percent body-weight loss—might spell his doom during the long, cold Pennsylvania winter. The rut is the best time of year for elk viewing in the Alley, officially designated by the state as Elk Scenic Drive, a 127-mile loop made up of Interstate 80 between Exit 120 and Exit 111 and five state highways. Route 555 from Weedville, in Elk County, to Driftwood, in Cameron County and part of State Route 872 to Sinnemahonig State Park is where most of the action takes place. The elk range covers about 850 square miles and also includes parts of Clearfield, Clinton, and Potter counties. However, the town of Benezette, in Elk County, is Elk Central, and there are several public viewing areas nearby. Also, a string of hotels, restaurants, and gift shops along Route 555 cater to the MOUNTAIN HOME
tourists who flock here in the autumn. In the fall, a bull’s antlers will have reached their impressive peak, which can mean forty pounds of bone that’s four feet high. They’re a pretty effective weapon, and part of mating season’s fascination and fun—or horror, for the squeamish—is watching these massive creatures lock horns—or “antler wrestle”—as they battle over cows. This can be extremely violent and sometimes fatal, though Bainey said rutting deaths are a rare occurrence. There’s also comic relief, provided by adolescent bulls still perplexed by the proceedings. “The yearlings are fun to watch,” said Bainey, who studied wildlife management at Penn State. “They’re totally confused because the hormones are kicking in and yet they want to be by mamma’s side.” A full-grown bull elk can weigh up to 1,000 pounds—cows are more petite and usually maintain a svelte 500- to 600- pound figure—and a normal set of antlers has six tines per side. The twelve points give him the designation of “royal” bull while an “imperial” bull has fourteen points. The rut’s time can vary, OCTOBER 2007
but late September and early October mark ELK SCENIC DRIVE C0UDERSPORT the height of mating season. One thing that 6 EMPORIUM Sinnemahonig doesn’t change is the bull elk’s “bugling,” State Park which is a signal that the rut is in full swing. 120 Kettle Creek 872 The elk’s distinctive mating call has been State Park 3 described as a low bellow that continues as ST. MARYS 2 555 DRIFTWOOD 120 1 a squealing or whistle followed by several RENOVO 255 BENEZETTE grunts. LOCK 120 Winslow Hill Road Bucktail HAVEN State Park Several elk-viewing areas, equipped with 120 555 blinds and staffed by volunteers from “The WEEDVILLE Wykoff Run Road Bugle Corps,” have been set up along the 255 drive. An estimated 75,000 people visit Elk Quehanna Highway 4 144 Alley in the fall, and the herd is now 800 Parker Dam PENFIELD 5 State Park strong, the largest one east of the Mississippi. West Branch Hunted to extinction in the Appalachians VIEWING AREAS Susquehanna 153 around the time of the Civil War, the elk’s River 4 BEAVER RUN DAM 1 GILBERT FARM 5 HOOVER FARM 2 DENTS RUN reintroduction and survival here is a tale befit6 SINNEMAHONIG 3 HICKS RUN S B Elliot STATE PARK ting a proud creature. State Park Exit 111 Today’s herd is descended from 177 elk 144 sent in by train from Wyoming and South BELLEFONTE/ 322 153 STATE COLLEGE Dakota and set loose in ten Pennsylvania counties from 1913 to 1926; but only those twenty-four released in Cameron County and 80 CLEARFIELD Exit 147 the ten reintroduced in Elk County thrived SNOW SHOE and developed a breeding base. Habitat loss 80 and elk hunting, legal from 1923 to 1931, helped spell their decline in the other eight MAP BY JOHN FULMER counties. The commonwealth put them GUIDED ELK WATCHES under protection in 1932 and elk hunting was not made legal again until 2001. It is, WHERE: Sinnemahoning State Park. Route 872, eight however, a lottery-type hunt and only forty miles north of Route 120 junction, Cameron County elk tags will be issued in 2007, with the $10 WHEN: Through October 20. Starts at 4:30 P.M. license fee going to farmers’ crop damage. COST: $30 for families; $15 for individuals. Week’s notice In last twenty-five years, Bainey has required worked with the herd as part of several commonwealth commissions, and she said it INFORMATION: email@example.com or was endangered recently until state agencies Jackie Flynn or Janet Colwell at (814) 647-8401 and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation DESCRIPTION: After a short discussion on elk-watching stepped in. “I can even remember when we tips, you’ll be driven into the range to observe the rut. almost didn’t have herd,” she said. “This was A limited number of spaces is available and registraback in the 1970s and early ‘80s. The numbers tion is required. Park Manager Lisa Bainey said it’s a were very low, probably 100 elk.” long program, so set aside some time. “One of the Several factors were in play. The brainwoman lives right in the heart of elk country and has worm parasite, which attacks an ungulate’s a good pulse as to where they are,” Bainey said. spinal cord and brain, thinned the herd, and without an effective fencing program to keep them from feeding on crops, elk Elk Alley locals. mind,” she said. “And he’s not thinking about the park were the target of angry farmers. Poaching was “There needed to be some way to disperse the num- visitor who’s trying to get close to take photographs.” another concern. ber of tourists,” Bainey said. So the partnership helped Though she’s been close to the herd for a quarter “Plus there were not a lot of habitat-enhancement design the Elk Scenic Highway. “It guides the visitor century, like the arrival of fall foliage, the elk-mating programs at that time,” Bainey said. “The foundation along in an organized way, instead of the helter-skelter season always seems like a surprise to Bainey. entered and helped with land acquisitions. Elk are viewing that was occurring.” “I’m always amazed. It’s a cyclical thing, and you grazing animals, like cows, and the Benezette area has A system of “elk etiquette” was instituted with the look forward to it just like the leaves changing color a lot of reclaimed strip mines. It’s grassland and it’s a help of Bugle Corps volunteers trained through the every year,” said Bainey. magnet to the elk. Plus it was remote. DCNR. Responsible elk watching, Bainey said, is a comWatching the elk mate can have an immediate, “Tourism really became a factor in the ‘90s,” Bainey bination of respect for the animal and local property elemental effect, she said. said. “Before that, you could come to elk country and owners, and recognizing that you, the observer, are very “There’s nothing that compares to sitting out in you had to look hard to find one.” close to a wild, huge, unpredictable beast. a blind on a moonlit night and you hear that squeal More tourists may have guaranteed the elk’s survival, “What happens is you see an elk for the first time, and of a bull elk and the responding bugle from another but the influx of visitors required a delicate balancing they’re so big and magnificent and incredible, people dominant bull,” Bainey said. “You can smell them. You act. With the increased number of tourists, locals need- just immediately drawn like a magnet to the animal and can smell the musk. They come clashing together and ed relief from the pressure the herd and herd watchers start taking pictures,” Bainey said. The viewing areas, you can hear the grunting and groaning and the sound made on their lives. The infrastructure couldn’t handle with their hedgerows and blinds, provide protection and of the antlers clashing. it, Bainey said, and the Department of Conservation a good look at an animal in the throes of sexual ecstasy. “I think, if anything, it reconnects you with the and Natural Resources, the Game Commission, Bureau Not an easy feat. natural world when you listen to those wild sounds. To of State Parks, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Founda“It’s for their own safety because a 1,000-pound bull me, it’s right up there with the howl of the wolf and tion formed a partnership to address the concerns of elk in full rut has only one thing racing through his that of the coyote.” OCTOBER 2007 MOUNTAIN HOME Page 2
Have You Heard Small-town PA Girl Gets Big TV Break JANA’s songs? S
he sat at the café table, a collage of color: bright-purple hoodie, boldly patterned blue scarf, and the pink cheeks that the Twin Tiers’ chilly spring air requires everyone to wear in late March. The warm expression in her kind brown eyes belied the cold and welcomed me to her table. Singer/songwriter Jana Losey proved to be as engaging face-to-face as she is in her soulful music, as she shed light on her upcoming projects, including a new album, her own reality/variety show, and a new performance series held by her record company, Posey Tunes. Having grown up in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, Losey understands what it is to be a small-town person with big dreams. She started exploring her musical talents when she was eight years old and continued to study seriously at Ithaca College. Leaving college early to join Squok Opera, an avant-garde troupe, Losey spent five years touring and ultimately went to Broadway. Burned out and needing time for herself, she took a sabbatical from music and moved to California to work in wardrobe at the La Jolla Playhouse and later became a licensed masseuse with her own practice. During this time, Losey recovered some of her drive to create and “music started creep back in.” She joined a cover band and started writing again with band mate, Melanie Peters. Now her business and life partner, Peters played an integral role in helping Losey rediscover her voice. “That really restarted my joy in music,” says Losey. “Slowly Melanie and I started saving some of the songs we wrote for ourselves with the idea that we might sell them to other artists.” Fate had other plans, however, and soon her first album, Bittersweet, was given life. Peters used some forty hours of studio timed owed to her to record their songs. “Soon we were writing a song a week and then going in to record it,” says Losey with a hint of awe in her voice. “We still think of Bittersweet as a bit of a miracle; a kind of really wonderful mistake.” From there, Losey decided to become a full-time musician, touring the country and getting airtime for some of her songs, including “London Holiday,” which was a local favorite on radio stations across the Twin Tiers in 2006. They moved to Losey’s childhood home, a Lawrenceville farm, and started touring, first with a band and then as a duo. “Right now, it’s basically me and Melanie touring in a little hybrid car and doing acoustic sets,” explained Losey. This is one of the many things Losey speaks on when she visits area high school in hopes of raising awareness of her upcoming album, Blocks, her reality/variety show, The Song You Heard, and her desire to get kids involved and confident about their talents. “Being from a small area, I think some of the kids here have a general lack of confidence that they can do whatever they want in life,” said Losey. “City kids might have more exposure to theater and music but it’s so important for kids here to Page 16
By Dara Riegel
Big FOX TV: Check local listings for The Song You Heard Clemens Center performances: 7 and 9 P.M. April 4; tickets $20 (half price with student ID; must call ahead) Information: www.janalosey.com or (570 ) 504-5589. Search MTV’s Web site to vote for Losey’s music video show will include part of the concert, backstage shots, and some of the music from our new CD, Blocks. More structured and thought-out than Bittersweet, Blocks was a “very fulfilling album to make,” with Losey and Peters taking the opportunity to set out to make a whole album, while paying attention to “the moods of each song” as they pertained to the whole. “To me, the whole album is much more important than making a few hit singles,” explained Losey. “I feel like people are getting tired of the whole ‘hits culture’ and are ready, as a society, to go back to more of a grass roots approach and really listen to each song.” In that same vein, Losey hopes to invigorate the region’s interest in new talents through a concert series she will host at Corning’s Radisson Hotel. From May through October, 2008, Losey and Peter’s record company, Posey Tunes, will bring a new act to the Radisson each month, featuring artists from all over the country, including those from New York, Buffalo and California. “We want to bring in artists who are on the cusp of great success, and introduce them to the region, in hopes of gaining them attention and bringing new sounds to the region,” said Losey. She is also hoping to bring a few teenage artists from other areas to both perform and visit the schools with her to further reinforce her point that “you don’t have to be from a big city to be a great artist.”
Dara Riegel is a frequent contributor to Mountain Home magazine.
know that there’s no reason why they can’t do it just because they’re from here. I want to do everything I can to help them understand that.” One way she hopes to get that through to kids is through The Song You Heard, which first aired in March on Big Fox stations from Wellsboro to Rochester. Each monthly episode features Losey’s travels and the artists she meets along the way in cities big or small. The episodes will then run weekly until a new one airs. “It’s cool for people to see familiar places and people on TV,” said Losey. “It might make performing seem more accessible to kids if they see their hometown or someone from it on a real TV show.” She also sees this opportunity as a way to bring more attention to some of the lesser-known artists she encounters along the way. Each show will show the highs and lows of touring, but will also showcase interviews of and performances by different artists, as well as live music by Losey. Part of one of the upcoming episodes will be shot at Losey’s April 4 concerts/album-release parties at Elmira’s Clemens Center. At the schools she has visited, Losey made sure to offer all students half-price tickets to the shows, acknowledging the importance of getting teens involved with music, as well as her show. “It should be a nice tie-in,” said Losey. “This episode of MOUNTAIN HOME
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