For the birds: Blujay to play T-Day eve to benefit Power Packs

By on November 25, 2014

Music listeners know what it’s like to be hearing a jam so intense, so long, so epic, that you find yourself thinking … is this still the same song?

Rock legends play songs that have not only withstood the test of time, but that take you to another space. And perhaps this is what defines true rock ‘n’ roll.

Blujay, a four-piece band from Lancaster County, takes its audience to this level with a hypnotizing musical performance. Blujay is Mark Knepper of Lancaster on piano, Randy Bechtold of Lititz on drums, Corey Salzano of Manheim Township on bass, and Ryan Bechtold of Lititz on lead vocals and guitar.

With a lineup of local shows and plans to start recording this winter, the band brings a collection of originals and covers to the stage. They have a variety of influences, as all of them have played in different bands in the past. They play songs that Ryan wrote in previous bands, and they have written new songs together. Playing together since February, they’re working on developing their own sound as Blujay.

This week Blujay will kick off the entertainment at the Thanksgivin’ Back event presented by Foodstock. On Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. the benefit will take place at Lancaster Elks on Duke Street and will include performances by Blujay and DC & Co, another local band. The event is to raise money for the Power Packs Project, which provides weekend meals for Lancaster area school children. Dosie Dough of Lititz is one of the locations selling tickets for the event, which are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.

The main act, DC & Co, invited Blujay to play with them because they are friends with Todd Fulginiti, trumpet player for DC & Co. Fulginiti was Ryan and Randy’s music teacher at Kissel Hill Elementary School.

On Saturday, Nov. 22, they performed to a welcoming audience at Elstonville Sportsman’s Association in Manheim. The association offers indoor and outdoor events for club members, and on Saturday the public was invited for the music, with a $5 cover charge.

For this show, they had three sets; a hand-written set list was placed on the floor by Ryan’s microphone.

“I write them, and they all laugh at me,” said Ryan of the set list.

They admitted they don’t usually stick to the list, either because of the crowd’s reaction or because they feel like switching it up. Their shows are different every time. For instance, on this night Ryan tied a bandana to his guitar. When asked about it, he said he didn’t know why, but he put it there about two hours ago.

He also didn’t know how they came up with their band name, except that he liked the way it sounded. “I wish there was a cool story behind it, but there’s not. I don’t know,” said Ryan. He mentioned that they play blues music. “I don’t know if there’s any correlation there.”

His girlfriend, who was seen in the audience with her friends singing along to every song, said she had a feeling the bandana on Ryan’s guitar had something to do with Jimi Hendrix.

The four of them jammed together mechanically, almost in a trance. Their passion was contagious as it pounded through the speakers. Each of them bring their own style to the stage &tstr; Knepper with his “Save a cow, eat a vegetarian” sticker on the keyboard, Randy smiling as he hit the drums, Salzano the bearded bass player, and Ryan center stage in a Steeler’s jersey.

What do they do when they’re not playing music? A chorus of half-joking, half-serious answers rang out, most of which cannot be printed in this newspaper (use your imagination, if you choose).

“Half of us have jobs,” Randy added.

On stage, the band exchanged smiles as Ryan played an aggressive guitar solo. He played slide guitar, then, tossing the slide to the floor, lifted his instrument. At one point he played it tucked up by his chin, and then eventually had the guitar behind his back and down to the floor to end their set.

Local jam band Blujay rocks the Elstonville Sportsman's Association in Manheim Saturday. (Photo by Lenay Ruhl)

Local jam band Blujay rocks the Elstonville Sportsman’s Association in Manheim Saturday. (Photo by Lenay Ruhl)

With lights moving around, casting shapes on the walls in between the collection of taxidermy, mixed in with their originals, the band played covers such as Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” “LA Woman” by The Doors, “Sunshine of your Love” by Cream and Bill Withers’ “Ain’t no Sunshine.”

When asked what motivates them to play music, Randy immediately said, “Chicks.” He did say he was joking, which seemed to be a common trait of the band.

“People are inviting us into their places and they let us be loud,” added Salzano, noting that without instruments, that wouldn’t happen.

For a more serious answer, Ryan said, “There’s also a connection you get from people when you’re playing live. That connection’s on a really deep level.”

Connect with Blujay on Facebook and check out their upcoming shows:

  • Nov. 26: Thanksgivin’ Back Event, Lancaster Elks, 7 p.m.
  • Dec. 5: Lititz VFW, 8:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 19: Federal Tap House, Lancaster, 10 p.m.

Lenay Ruhl is a freelance entertainment writer for the Record Express. She welcomes your comments at


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