Annual Strawberry Fields benefit concert rolls on

Pure Cane Sugar will perform Saturday during “Gimme Shelter,” the annual fundraising concert for The State Theatre and Strawberry Fields.
Pure Cane Sugar will perform Saturday during “Gimme Shelter,” the annual fundraising concert for The State Theatre and Strawberry Fields. Photo provided

For the sixth year, local musicians will come together for a fundraising show that features a new musical theme every year. This year, music of the Rolling Stones will be the backdrop to Saturday’s concert, which raises money for Strawberry Fields Inc.

The lineup for “Gimme Shelter” includes The Screaming Ducks, Ted & The Hi Fis, Pure Cane Sugar, The Unbanned, Erin Condo & The Hoofties, The Tommy Roberts, Rick Hirsch 4, Eric Ian Farmer, Grain, The Skoal Brothers, Miss Melanie & The Valley Rats and The Tussey Mountain Moonshiners.

Pure Cane Sugar vocalist Kate Twoey said she’s excited about this year’s concert theme.

“We feel very connected to this year’s artist, The Rolling Stones, because they are also an eclectic mix of so many genres,” she said. “They are this heavily blues-influenced group that infuses aspects of R&B, rock, folk and so many other styles. So, hopefully putting all those styles together, we have come up with something exciting.”

Pure Cane Sugar typically likes to surprise their audiences and keep their selections a secret until the night of the show.

“But I can tell you that in typical PCS fashion, we twisted one of our selections to really make it representative of us,” Twoey said. “And we’ll have some special guests joining us as well.”

Jazz saxophonist Rick Hirsch said he’s also excited about hearing and playing Rolling Stones-influenced tunes.

“Our music is saxophone-driven, and we have no vocalist, so we look for tunes with strong melodies,” he said. “Like all the great bands from the British Invasion, the Stones are heavily influenced by American blues music, which makes the translation into our jazz-blues musical language very smooth.”

Hirsch said the benefit concert is one of his favorite shows to play every year, and he said enjoys being around the creativity and the professionalism of the bands that are all part of the same music community.

“Of course, the audience is always totally into it,” he said. “And when we’re not playing, we get to listen to everyone.”

Located in State College, Strawberry Fields provides comprehensive services and support for people with disabilities and their families. Since the organization’s founding in 1972, it has grown to offer a variety of services, enhancing the lives of individuals and families with developmental delays, intellectual disabilities and mental illness.

Miss Melanie & The Valley Rats guitarist Mark Ross said the band is glad to be a part of the benefit for Strawberry Fields.

“These people do great work, are often over-worked, under-appreciated and under-rewarded; and they serve some of the finest people who walk the planet,” Ross said. “I tip my cap to them and all they accomplish together.”

Ross particularly loves performing shows when a community of musicians come together for a worthy cause.

“I love getting to hear my peers put their spin on the theme of the night,” he said. “There has been some great music played in previous shows, and I’m sure there will be some great music played on Saturday.”

While the concert is sold-out, overflow seating is available. For more information, visit www.thestatetheatre.org

“It’s very special for all of us to see the other incredible performances, contribute to such an important cause and perform to a packed house in the best venue in town,” Twoey said. “I think the audience better warm up their vocal chords before arriving, because I know they are going to be singing along all night.”