In case you’re wondering how Gary U.S. Bonds got his unusual name, the Fine Arts Fiesta headliner explains it was all his manager’s idea.
“He whipped that up,” Bonds said in a telephone interview, adding the gentleman may have been influenced by a favorite delicatessen where the owner displayed “a huge American flag and a life-size poster of Uncle Sam.”
Believing radio DJs would mistake Bond’s records for public service announcements about buying savings bonds, his manager gave him the new moniker in an attempt to get extra air time.
Whether the DJs were fooled, it’s a good story — and rock-and-roll, rhythm-and-blues artist Bonds will have plenty of other anecdotes to share during his concert, along with such hits as “New Orleans,” “Quarter to Three” and “School is Out.”
Before Bonds, 74, takes the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday, festival-goers can enjoy several days of fiesta fun on Wilkes-Barre’s Public Square.
The event opens this morning with high-school choruses and jazz bands, dancers and community thespians, barbershop harmony and a wealth of other musicians.
Artists-in-residence will demonstrate watercolor painting, the creation of wheel-thrown ceramics and the care of bonsai trees while storytellers spin tales and librarians help children create make-and-take bookmarks.
Tent after tent will showcase the prize-winning works of adult and student artists, and vendors will offer jewelry and photographs and all sorts of crafty items.
Praising the diverse range of arts you can find at the fiesta, Wilkes-Barre resident Robert Collins, 28, said he still has fond memories of attending as a child with his classmates from Dodson Elementary School.
“It’s a tradition. It’s not really summer yet, but it kicks off the summer season,” said Collins, who earlier this week was happy to be a volunteer applying a fresh coat of white paint to the pegboards where paintings were to be hung.
While some fiesta-goers love the art, or the chance to socialize, or the live entertainment, others are quick to mention the food. Along with the all-American ice cream, French fries and potato pancakes, you can find such international cuisine as falafel, Jamaican jerk chicken, chicken-sausage combo and gourmet tacos.
Bonds, for one, suspects he’ll be spending some time perusing the vendors’s stalls, if his wife and daughter, both named Laurie and singing back-up for him, have their way.
“My wife drags me along,” he said with a laugh.