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Lightning in a bottle

"Mr. Nashville" Billy Block introduced Sullivan County's Cathy Paty to the crowd for her first appearance at ThunderBash

May 1, 2013

It’s almost impossible to think about Sullivan County (www.scva.net) without recalling a little music festival that put the town of Bethel on the map during a rain-soaked three days in 1969. Since then, music lovers have flocked to the region seeking to rekindle memories of that event, or create new ones in honor of it.

While many styles of music were represented at Woodstock, I think it’s fair to say that country music was not at the forefront. But flashing forward to present day, country is alive and well in Sullivan County where the genre is huge. In recent years, the grounds of the original festival consistently sell out with concerts at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (www.bethelwoodscenter.org) featuring country performers, and local radio station Thunder 102 (www.thunder102.com) has become the number-one country station in New York and Pennsylvania.

Last weekend marked the eighth annual concert and celebration of lightning hot country music, courtesy of ThunderBash, held on the Big V Tours stage at Monticello Casino and Raceway. Created by the team at Thunder 102 and sponsored by Bethel Woods, Crystal Run Healthcare and the M & M Auto Group, ThunderBash has become a tradition and draws thousands to Sullivan County each year with its glowing roster of talent. Although the event lures big names in the industry, it’s the local connection that creates the ties that bind, and popular on-air personality Paul Ciliberto never lets us forget that it is the residents who make ThunderBash the “biggest bash in Sullivan County since ‘69.” Aided and abetted by Mike Sakell, The River Reporter’s readers’ favorite celebrity of 2012, and by Michelle Semerano, the station invited “Mr. Nashville” Billy Block to host ThunderBash this year. It was a nice moment when Block was honored by Town of Thompson Supervisor Anthony Cellinni, who announced to the crowd that April 27 would now officially be known as “Mr. Nashville-Billy Block Day.”