Praise Band Jam is July 16 in Geneseo park

Claudia Loucks
Members of the Pleasant Valley Men, a southern gospel singing group, will perform at the Praise Band Jam on Sunday, July 16 in the Geneseo City Park. Pictured are, front row, from left: Jon Palomaki, pianist Brad Toone, and Paul VanDerSchaaf. Back row, from left: Randy Hicks and John VanDeWoestyne.

The Pleasant Valley Men can bring listeners to their feet with their southern gospel music, Gaither style, and they are sure to do just that at the ninth annual Praise Band Jam in Geneseo City Park.

They will set the stage as the first group to perform at the event which is from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday, July 16.

The Praise Band Jam is a time when churches in Geneseo, of different denominations and doctrines, but all with a shared belief in praising God, come together on common ground.

In the event of rain, the “Jam” will be at St. Malachy Catholic Church,, which is the organizing church for this year’s event with a committee of church members including John Puentes, Lance Carroll and Brian Seals. Glenn Kluge, representing First United Methodist Church, is in charge of scheduling the bands.

Puentes said, “The Jam is a worthwhile event because it brings the people together with a the common purpose of praising God through music and demonstrating that we are one in God’s eyes.”

In addition to music, the Praise Band Jam will feature pork chop sandwiches and desserts from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. with a pie auction scattered throughout the afternoon and evening.

Each year the “Jam” raises money for different charities and this year donations will benefit the Geneseo Food Pantry’s “To Stock the Shelves” campaign.

The first Praise Band Jam was organized in 2013 by First United Methodist Church with five groups performing. Nine are scheduled to participate this year.

In addition to bands from Geneseo churches, there will be groups from the Quad City area.

The “Jam” includes a mix of old and new, from traditional hymns to contemporary music and in addition to The Pleasant Valley Men, the groups: Wildwood Church, Grace United Methodist Church, St. Malachy, Geneseo Evangelical Free Church, First Lutheran Church, Shaun Easton, First United Methodist, In the River and Rock Thy Neighbor.

A set of songs will be presented by Rock Thy Neighbor, which combines praise band members from the area churches.

The love for Christ can be heard in the music of The Pleasant Valley Men, which was organized 35 years ago when the original group, known then as the “Pleasant Valley Boys,” began singing together, and today, Paul VanDerSchaaf is the only one from that original group. In addition to southern gospel, the men have added some contemporary songs.

Kluge is credited for organizing the first Praise Band Jam five years ago and said, “In 2013, the Holy Spirit blessed me with the idea for this event. All of its success is tied directly to the Holy Spirit inspiration.”

“It is so exciting to see the community come out to support the fund raising efforts, and to praise God in a loud and conspicuous way,” he said. “Our core group of organizers has become quite the efficient team, with certain folks performing particular responsibilities year after year. I have been the lucky enough to be the guy that lines up the bands and the base of bands from which we organize continues to grow each year.”

Last year the Praise Band Jam drew a record attendance of more than 650 people.

“Each year we have seen growth in attendance and in money raised for local charities,” Kluge said.