By John Chambless

Staff Writer

For anyone who followed the regional music scene in the 1970s and 1980s, Johnny's Dance Band was a staple, and they performed literate, witty songs that packed clubs and small theaters.

Making their return to Chester County for the first time since re-forming last January, the latest lineup of the 44-year-old group will be at the Flash in Kennett Square on Dec. 20. The opening act is blues musician Mojo Stu.

Many fans remember the 1970s/80s lineup headed by vocalist Nan Mancini, but the latest version features original 1970s members Tony Juliano and Courtney Collette. Joining them are newcomers Arlyn Wolters, Ray Cardona and Ron Ward. While they're new to Johnny's Dance Band, they are all veteran performers who have fit well into the band's cabaret-style stage show.

Juliano is the band's co-leader and vocalist, and plays guitar, harmonica, keyboards and congas. In concert, he becomes the group's ringmaster, keeping the tongue-in-cheek songs flowing smoothly. He's particularly happy with this comeback lineup, saying, “We find that, for the first time in 40-plus years, everyone is on the same page.”

The new shows feature half new material and half Johnny's Dance Band favorites. Tickets for the show at the Flash are $15 in advance (484-732-8295 or www.kennettflash.org). The band's website (www.johnny'sdanceband.com) is an entertaining journey through the ups and downs of their unlikely career, which saw them flirt with mainstream success while maintaining their satirical, unconventional edge.