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Hanover native to play benefit show Dec. 5

Anthony LaLota's upbringing relied more on Bruce Springsteen and Woody Guthrie than "Sesame Street" and "Schoolhouse Rock!" for educational enrichment.

"My dad was kind of a hippie, and from age 8 and on, he refused to let us have television in the house," said LaLota, 34, a Hanover native. "He raised me on music."

His father's lessons stuck. LaLota, a Lock Haven resident who works as a pharmacist by day, is a singer-songwriter with deep roots in folk, blues and soul. He'll use his talents to help a Hanover family in need at an upcoming benefit show.

LaLota, who goes by the stage name Anthony James, will perform with Harrisburg-area band Weird Year at David's Outlook in Hanover at 6 p.m. Saturday. All proceeds from the $5 admission fee will go toward helping the Groft family, who was recently affected by a house fire and a cancer diagnosis.

Returning to his childhood stomping grounds is exciting for LaLota, who plays acoustic guitar and sings. It's been a year since he last visited the area.

"When I lived in Hanover, it was a lot more sprawling farmland than what is it now," he said.

The show will be LaLota's first time performing for his Hanover-area family members. He has toured throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, and he recently returned from a string of dates in the U.K. His efforts are now focused on producing his first album, a project for which he's taking the do-it-yourself route.

"I'm recording out of my house," he said. "I bought a nice little home studio set-up."

The DIY music movement is prevalent in Pennsylvania, a trend that LaLota attributes to the blue collar nature of the state.

"I think any area with a high concentration of working class people kind of identify with it," he said.

In high school, LaLota gravitated toward the DIY punk scene because "everything else was too polished and manufactured."

"I liked the fact that anybody could be in a band if you were willing to have the guts to put yourself out there," he said. "Assembling CDs in your basement or garage and putting on house shows - I always preferred that to stadium concerts. It just seemed more authentic and real."

At David's Outlook, the DIY movement is embraced. Owner David Bittinger, 28, said they want to encourage the public to support local music and local people.

"Pennsylvania is very working class and very blue collar, and we're very proud of that," Bittinger said.

After hearing his family friend had fallen on difficult times, LaLota felt helpless, like he couldn't offer anything except for positive thoughts. On a whim, he reached out to David's Outlook since "they seemed like a nice, community-centric, DIY kind of venue." The staff was receptive to LaLota's pitch.

"We are always excited to do these little benefit shows," Bittinger said.

The venue, which doubles as a furniture and clothing store, hosted a benefit show last summer for a local man who needed chemotherapy treatments, Bittinger said.

"We just really liked seeing a bunch of people in the community getting together for a good cause and helping in their own little way," he said. "It's pretty uplifting."

Helping his loved ones through music is "really kind of incredible," LaLota said.

"I started playing music when I was younger just because it was fun," he said. "To be able to draw people in and raise money to help somebody that I love, I don't think there's a better feeling than that. It's an honor."

For more information, call 717-521-9837 or visit David's Outlook on Facebook.

If you go

What: Anthony James and Weird Year benefit concert

When: 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: David's Outlook, 228 E. Chestnut St., Hanover

Admission: $5