Coordinators, participants hope for best with music and arts festival

EAST LIVERPOOL-Amy Hissom-Daugherty didn’t have any trouble getting her musician friends to come to this weekend’s East Liverpool’s Got Talent Music & Arts Festival at Thompson Park, including many who played the main stage.

The test will be whether the rest of East Liverpool comes along.

“I really want good things for this town,” Hissom-Daughtery said Saturday as the Got Talent festival got underway.

“I had this idea a long, long time ago. I talked to many of my musician friends about it. A lot of them said, ‘Good luck with that, Amy,’ ” she said.

The indefatigable organizer didn’t listen to the naysayers, though, and Saturday’s 11 a.m. opening ceremony was the end result. Hissom-Daugherty said she hopes to achieve nonprofit status and make the festival an annual event.

“We can do so much more with our 501(c)(3) status. We want to turn this into something that includes a contest for youth in this area,” she said.

The money raised through a Chinese auction, a 50/50 raffle and a guitar giveaway will go toward the nonprofit organization application fee, she said.

The two-day festival opened Saturday with the help of about 50 volunteers, 14 musical guests, numerous vendors and Hissom-Daugherty’s co-organizers-her husband, Jeff Daugherty, Keith Williams and Pennie Murray Zehnder.

Hissom-Daugherty said this year’s event, which continues today and concludes with a fireworks show at 9:30 p.m., is a talent show, not a talent contest. “We decided to go with already-established musical talent from the area,” she said, noting that future events may include a contest component.

Amy Buchanan and her two granddaughters were part of the modest crowd that gathered to hear the early Saturday afternoon acts, including her friend, Tim Fultz, who played bass for Scott Cook & Guests.

“We think it’s wonderful,” Buchanan said. “There’s so many wonderful musicians around here. It’s nice to see it happen again.”

Her husband, John Buchanan, is scheduled to sing with Mikey “Murder” Oliver & the Witnesses at 8 p.m. today.

“It’s what the community needs now. It’s been missing for a long time,” she said.

East Liverpool native James Hill said he was thrilled to perform for the event as Snow Diddley & Cat Man Kev. “I had to do this one,” he said. “This is my hometown. This town made me what I am.”

Hill, a 1974 graduate of East Liverpool High School, performed Saturday with Kevin Dennis, of Steubenville. Their acoustic set included covers of Bob Dylan, Bo Diddley and John Prine.

Hill said he was the “least talented” of a group of successful musicians who graduated from ELHS the same year he did-guitarist Dave Morgan, Doug Smith of the duo Doug & Dave, Keith Williams and the late John Celli.

Morgan closed Saturday’s schedule with a 10 p.m. performance; Williams is running sound for the event; and Smith performed with Doug & Dave at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Although he has a day job-he’s an investigator for the West Virginia Lottery Commission-Hill performs not only as Snow Diddley but also with the trio Three’s Company and the duo Phoenix.

His biggest musical inspiration, he said, was Bill Brown, proprietor of Musicland in the 1960s and ’70s. He remembers the store as “Brownie’s,” one of the businesses located in the East Liverpool Diamond.

“It was like a mecca for us budding Hendrix and Clapton wannabes,” Hill wrote on

East Liverpool’s Got Talent resumes at 12:30 p.m. today at the Thompson Park amphitheater. Nine acts are scheduled.