top of page

Keystone Opry

When Zach Rearick was looking for a venue for his band, Middleground, to play with another band, The Country Strings, they approached the local community theatre. The Butler Little Theatre in Butler, Pennsylvania, is a small, intimate venue where six or seven shows are produced annually. The organization is one of Pennsylvania's oldest continuously active theatre groups, tracing its origins to the 1920s.

“They were super interested,” says Zach. “We had one month to put together the show and market it.” To his great surprise, the show sold out. Granted, the theatre only has 155 seats, but tickets to all 155 seats were completely sold out. The theatre group was thrilled with the show and encouraged them to do more shows.

Knowing they were on to something, Zach and his wife, Tricia, went to work looking for a couple of bands to do a second show last year. “I grew up playing in a family band,” Zach says, “and I am in a band now, so I’m pretty connected to the local bluegrass music scene in Pennsylvania.”

The second show was also sold out, which gave Zach an idea. “We worked with the theatre group and went all in on planning shows for this year.” Branding the shows as Keystone Opry: An Unforgettable Evening of Music, Zach drew from Pennsylvania being nicknamed “The Keystone State” while also giving a nod to the Grand Ole Opry. “It may not be that creative – after all, I’m an engineer from Pennsylvania. But I think it works. We got our state and the ‘mother church’ in the name.”

Zach says he grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry with his grandparents. “It’s a pretty classic story.” He also attended the many bluegrass festivals in the area. “And, of course, I began going down the rabbit hole of watching music videos on YouTube.”

While he didn’t set out to create a music series, Keystone Opry has morphed into a full season of shows. “At first, I thought it would be hard to find enough bands, but we have seven shows this season with two bands at every show, even more for our Christmas show. We have had to start turning bands away.”

Zach says that it’s all been pretty smooth so far. “I’m still amazed at the turnout. I always had an idea of doing something along these lines, but I thought about going the festival route. There aren’t as many festivals now as there once were because the promoters are aging out, and no one is replacing them.” When this opportunity presented itself, Zach jumped at the chance to provide something he saw lacking in his community.

The shows have become much more than mere musical performances. For Zach, they celebrate traditional bluegrass and the connections it creates between the artists and fans. “It’s such an intimate experience, and the best part is that the performers and the audience can share in the joy of live music.” Focusing on authenticity, the shows feature both established acts and rising stars.

“We want to foster a sense of community. Music has the power to pull people together. The Keystone Opry provides the experience of live bluegrass music in a welcoming environment, where audiences can experience unforgettable performances and discover new artists.”

By day, Zach is a testing engineer with robotics, but he tries to play music whenever he can. “I used to be a semi-professional bass player, but now I play guitar and sing. I really love playing, and I love this music.” He and Tricia have one son, Waylon.

“We are excited about this season, and we look forward to Keystone Opry being a part of the community for a long time to come.”

5 views0 comments
bottom of page