BELLEFONTE — The sound of the acoustic guitar echoed Friday night in the bar and dining area of the Gamble Mill Restaurant as local singer Monica Brindle performed covers and original pieces.
She shifted from songs by Adele and Loretta Lynn to her own creations that had an old-time country sound to them.
The small crowd grew by the end of the night during the first day of the inaugural Gamble Mill Music Fest, celebrating local women vocalists as The Strayers, Hot Mamas and Tyne & The Fastlyne followed.
The event will continue throughout the weekend, with female performers starting 7 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday.
Restaurant General Manager and Sommelier Dave Burkhard said the idea was sparked earlier this year by restaurant owner Dave Fonash and Mark Ross, of Miss Melanie and the Valley Rats, who helps run open mic nights.
“We have an open mic night each week, but this was a chance to open up the local music scene to women musicians,” Burkhard said.
He added that when the Gamble Mill finished construction of the bar area where musicians perform about six months ago, it opened up a better sound for musicians.
“Bands are loving it. We’re getting a lot of good feedback,” Burkhard said.
Burkhard said he expects 130 to 150 people to attend each night, and musicians said they’re thankful to be a part of it.
“It makes me feel special to be part of this with so many talented female singers,” said Brindle, who has been singing since she was 3.
For patrons on the other hand, they said it’s nice that a local entity is recognizing local talent.
“We come here a lot, and it’s nice to hear some good music, have some good food and drinks and have a nice night out that showcases the kind of talent locally,” said Kevin McNamara, who was dining out at the bar area with his wife, Tracy.
McNamara said he and his wife are regulars on Tuesday night open mic night, just to listen to what each person brings to the mic.
“I think there are a lot of small towns around here, but there are some really good guitarists and vocals from around. It’s nice to see that,” McNamara said.
Burkhard said this is just one of other music fests the restaurant hosts throughout the year and will continue the women’s music fest again next year.
He said on Oct. 6, The Gamble Mill would hold a Paint the Mill Pink event with local artists to raise funds for breast cancer awareness.
“It’s about recognizing what we have locally and giving back a little,” Burkhard said.
Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @M11azzo.