Thickhead Productions looks to expand State College music scene

Thickhead Productions brought Connecticut-based band McLovins to Zeno’s Pub in November.
Thickhead Productions brought Connecticut-based band McLovins to Zeno’s Pub in November. Photo provided

As part of its ongoing mission to bring musical variety to the State College bar scene, Thickhead Productions will present a pair of shows at Zeno’s Pub next week.

First up is Baltimore-based Jamtronica act Deaf Scene, which will perform original music and Tool covers at Zeno’s on Dec. 6. The next day, Pennsylvania natives Still Hand String Band will perform during Bluegrass Night at Zeno’s, with local pickers Strait and The Crooked Line opening.

Event producer Alex Neal said that the company aims to bring more shows to Happy Valley and expose audiences to new acts.

“Thickhead Productions is a local production company that was started as a vehicle to bring regional acts to this area that otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to play here,” Neal said. “Our goal is to embody the community’s passion for music.”

The name of the company comes from Thickhead Mountain Wild Area in Rothrock State Forest, and Neal said the idea is to supplement the local acts that already perform around town.

“The local acts that are on the bill every week are awesome, don’t get me wrong, but when they need to take a night off one weekend, we want to be able to fill the gaps with something bar owners may not think about,” she said. “For example, we were offered a Saturday night at Zeno’s (in November), and we brought in this very groovy, Connecticut-based jam band, McLovins, and had an awesome turnout.”

Neal and company have aspirations beyond just setting up shows in State College.

“One of the biggest things we’ve been talking about lately is the brand we want to be creating,” she said. “In other words, what do we want our reputation to be? How do we want to make the artists feel when they come here to play? We want to set the bar high.”

The team carefully choose acts they think will best fit Thickhead’s mission.

“There are many factors that go into choosing what acts to bring,” Neal said. “ We’ll sit down and play music from all sorts of acts. Usually, we try to stay in the region, but then step two is looking at their tour dates. If a band that we might not otherwise get is going to be playing in surrounding areas and we notice they have a couple days off in between, that might be an opportunity for us to get a new act.”

Thickhead Productions is always on the lookout for new talent.

“We’re always looking for more acts, local or national,” Neal said. “All of us involved live and breathe music, so we’re always interested in what other people are listening to. I sometimes get upset realizing how much music is out there, knowing I won’t be able to ever listen to it all. If anyone ever has a suggestion, feel free to shoot us a message on our Facebook page.”

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