During the 70’s one of my favorite bands was the Australian rock group, Little River Band. And one of my favorite songs still is Cool Change, a song that evokes the serenity of sailing on open waters. The Little River Band will be performing at the Musikfest Café at SteelStacks on Thursday and I will be quite excited to enjoy Cool Change and the other hits the band being performed live. The performance reminds me that we have had a lot of cool change in the Lehigh Valley in just the last three years. For me, this last week, has been a personal reminder of the amazing change that we have experienced. As I look back, it is hard to believe that all of the experiences occurred not just in the Lehigh Valley but right here in south Bethlehem.
Tuesday - we went to see the new Wes Anderson movie Moonrise Kingdom at the Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas at SteelStacks. For once I really loved the Wes Anderson movie and of course the venue is great.
Wednesday - I had the opportunity to again hear one of the Lehigh Valley’s treasures, The Allentown Band, the oldest concert band in America, followed by spectacular fireworks from a seat at the Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks. The capacity audience joined me in appreciating the great music and the amazing venue.
Thursday - back to the Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas to hear Lehigh Valley native and comedian, Adam Yenser, now a resident of Los Angeles who writes for The Ellen Show. The audience included a lot of Adam’s family and friends from Macungie who had the chance to hear his PG rated show.
Friday - dropped in at the Banana Factory for First Friday and truly enjoyed the new exhibit by Cheryl Hochberg, "Creature (dis-) Comforts". I also participated in the celebration of Mr. Imagination’s life. Then we dashed back to the Levitt Pavilion for the rest of the show by the "Masters of Motown" with over 2,000 Lehigh Valley residents enjoying a flashback to the 60’s. It was a great, free concert.
Saturday - attended the Allman Brothers Tribute at the Musikfest Café at SteelStacks. Five legendary Lehigh Musicians, Craig Thatcher, Mike Dugan, Don Ploughman, Wade Leonard, & Craig Kastelnik. One of the best live shows I have ever experienced. Once again between the musicians and the amazing venue it was a great night. After the show, we got a chance to hear some of the show of another fabled Lehigh Valley musician, Bev Conklin at the TD Bank Stage on the Air Products Town Square. I had to go home, I was tired.
Sunday - drove past the audience at the Levitt Pavilion as we went to the Sands Event Center to hear the amazing Diana Krall. What a great jazz show with standards ranging from Peggy Lee to The Beatles. As we were driving home I commented about the week so far to our friends. We all agreed that just three years ago it would have been impossible to have all of these experiences in the Lehigh Valley, especially in one week.
Monday - the Musikfest App is now available on iTunes. (Next year it will be ready for other platforms!) In my mind it is the nexus of the amazing amount of cultural events and activities that are available in the Lehigh Valley and an incredible change in the region as a whole.
The Musikfest App was created by Trifecta Technologies of Allentown, one of the amazing high tech companies in our area. With national clients like Pfizer, Disney, Burt’s Bees and GSK, they are a symbol of how the Lehigh Valley is transitioning into the main stream of Twenty-First Century commerce. And they are a really congenial team to work with as well.
Along with Trifecta, companies like Dun & Bradstreet, Glemser Technologies and Synchronoss have populated the Lehigh Valley with software engineers and customer service representatives focusing on digital solutions for businesses. The full story is that the Lehigh Valley is still a leader in manufacturing, with great companies like Air Products, Mack Trucks, and B Braun manufacturing American made products in high tech environments. We are also engaged in cutting edge medical technologies with home grown companies like Orasure.
While we are all hoping the economy will soon improve, the Lehigh Valley is well positioned for continued economic growth in this century. Like many American communities we have gone through dramatic change in the last 30 years. We have continued to invest in our infrastructure, including amenities like professional sports, parks, arts, culture and historic preservation. Along with transportation, education and health care, these amenities are very important to attracting and retaining the talented workforce that we need to sustain our businesses and to create new enterprises that will meet the changing needs of a world that is wired. If Steve Jobs taught us all one thing, it is that most of us do not know what we "need" until someone invents it.
As we continue on this pathway of change, we should appreciate the business and public leadership that has made and continues to make it a "cool change" for our growing region.
And if you want to really that change, join me for the song live on Thursday evening at the Musikfest Café. We can participate in a regional business that has not changed, fortunately, for 183 years with a glass of Yuengling Lager.