EDINBORO — “Anybody got a number?,” Chuck Brand asked a recent Saturday night dinner crowd at Uncle Charlie’s Pizza Pub as he sat behind his drum set.

“Twenty-three!,” shouted a voice from one of the long wooden tables.

With that — and without a glance at the dog-eared songbook listing Number 23 — the trio in candy-striped vests and red bow ties started into “I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover.”

Like hundreds (if not thousands) of times before, Brand lead the old-time sing-a-long, horn player and maker Don Shaffer blasted away on a flashing light-filled trumpet with neon spinners and Ed Pacy tapped the keys on the fire engine red piano.

Since they became Uncle Charlie’s in-house entertainment on July 3, 1976, the Good Time Charlies “have managed to combine music, humor and awkward silence into a rousing evening of entertainment,” according to Shaffer.

But close to 30 years and nearly 30 homemade horns later, The Good Time Charlies are set to hang their vests up after their Dec. 17 show.

Brand, 78, said “it’s still fun, But I can’t do it any more” because of health problems.

Plus, “we wanted to go out while we still remember all the songs,” joked Shaffer, 71.

Full of color, parody and crowd participation and with its roots in old-time Americana, the Good Time Charlies act “is just a step away from Vaudeville,” said Shaffer.

For Marilee Povolko, the Charlies have offered “a lot of good memories — a lot.”

She said she’s watched them performing since they started in 1976, her senior year at General McLane High School. “We had a big group come in here and just sit and sing these songs,” she said fondly at the Charlies’ most recent performance.

Just as Shaffer picked up another of his inventions, this one with seven horns attached to one mouthpiece, Povolko’s daughter, Joanne, said it’s interesting to see that “you can play multiple instruments to one piece of music ... It’s a way to see all the different” forms music can take.

Thanks to her mom being a longtime fan, the 14-year-old’s growing up with the music and its traditions.

“We try to keep the kids in it,” Brand said recently. “We’ve been through a couple of generations of (families) learning the words” of the old songs together.

Shaffer said the Charlies’ upcoming final performances will include a mixture of the familiar old-time songs and holiday favorites. That means his snowman and Christmas tree horns will most definitely be making appearances.

As for the Charlies’ retirement to come after, “it’s a mixed bag, of course,” said Shaffer. “It’s been something we’ve looked forward to every week” for nearly three decades.

Shaffer said he’ll continue with his career as a private music instructor, but added he’s also still available for nearly any event, from parties to cake bake-offs to pet funerals.

“I’m going to miss it” after the last show, Brand said.

But until then, “We’re going to do just what we do.”

Ryan Smith can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at rsmith@meadvilletribune.com


After nearly 30 years of entertaining weekly, the Good Time Charlies’ final performances at Uncle Charlie’s Pizza Pub on Route 99 in Edinboro will be Saturday and Dec. 17 from 7 to 10 p.m.

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