The State Theatre music festival to keep fans warm in the ‘Dead of Winter’

Grateful Dead tribute act Box of Rain will headline the Dead of Winter music festival Jan. 14 at The State Theatre.
Grateful Dead tribute act Box of Rain will headline the Dead of Winter music festival Jan. 14 at The State Theatre. Photo provided

The State Theatre will celebrate the music of the Grateful Dead on Jan. 14 with “Dead of Winter.”

Grateful Dead tribute act Box of Rain will headline the show with its specific blend of Dead tunes. Lead guitarist Bob Stimer has been a fan of the Dead for several decades, and he has been greatly influenced by the band’s legacy.

“The music is extraordinary,” Stimer said. “The prolific nature of the songs — the lyrics are uplifting to a lot of people. It’s kind of unusual. I don’t think it’s ever going to go away.”

Stimer has been in other Grateful Dead tribute acts throughout his long musical career.

“Somewhere around 1973 or so, I got turned on to the Grateful Dead. Let’s just say I liked it ... a lot,” he said. “Then somewhere around 1981 or ’82, I joined a band called Living Earth. It was a pretty successful tribute act. Flash forward again and I played in a few different acts, but I got the bug and called my old Living Earth buddies. It just kind of fell into place again.”

The band features a specific sub-section of earlier Grateful Dead material, ranging from 1969-74.

“You can argue about the different eras of the band, but for me and the gang of characters I’m associated with, we all love that era of music,” he said.

Stimer has simple but important goals in mind for the future of Box of Rain.

“Breathing,” he said, laughing. “And keep playing. We love this music so much. It’s more than just a casual love; it’s a lifetime of love. For us to be able to get up in front of people and share that excitement and that love is what it’s all about.”

Box of Rain will be joined by Williamsport jam band Lumpy Gravy and State College’s own Reggae act, The Perkolators.

“For me, this is a great thing. I grew up listening to the Grateful Dead, and their music has always resonated with me,” said Ed Colby, bass player for The Perkolators. “They’re an amazing band whose music has stood the test of time. When you go to a Grateful Dead show you see people of all ages get up and dance, and I think that speaks volumes to the quality of their sound.”

The Perkolators have gained local success through hard work and deep camaraderie.

“It’s great. I love playing music, and we’ve been fortunate enough to be semi successful at it,” Colby said. “We’ve gotten to be a part of some terrific shows in State College, as well as some smaller music festivals around the area. But I think the biggest thing for me is that I’ve been friends with my fellow bandmates for so many years. Whether we’re playing some crazy show or just hanging out in my basement, I never have a bad time with those guys.”

Beyond just being a local reggae band, The Perkolators set themselves apart from the pack with their unique style and originality.

“I would say the two biggest things that set us apart are: No. 1, we play original music as well as covers, and No. 2, the style of music we play,” Colby said. “I usually refer to us as reggae-jam-rock, but really it’s hard to classify. We blend several genres and sort of make our own sound. I think we bring something different to the table. We have an original sound that gets people dancing, and we have fun doing it.”

Colby thinks that any fans of the Dead will have a great time on Jan. 14.

“For anyone who likes the Grateful Dead, this is a can’t-miss show,” he said. “But beyond that, by buying a ticket you’re supporting The State Theatre, local artists and the whole music scene in State College.”


  • What: The Dead of Winter
  • When: 7 p.m. Jan. 14
  • Where: The State Theatre, 130 W. College Ave., State College
  • Info: www.thestatetheatre.org