The State Theatre to go country for a cause

The Keepin’ It Country concert on Saturday at The State Theatre will benefit Hearts for Homeless.
The Keepin’ It Country concert on Saturday at The State Theatre will benefit Hearts for Homeless. Centre Daily Times, file

The State Theatre will be kicking it for a good cause on Feb. 25 when it hosts Keepin’ it Country: A Benefit Concert for Hearts for Homeless. Featuring six local and regional acts performing an array of country music hits, this inaugural concert will help to strengthen Hearts for Homeless’ mission of supporting those in need of housing.

“When I met with the directors of Hearts for Homeless, I was stunned to discover how vast this problem is in State College and Centre County,” said Larry Boggess, one of the event’s organizers who will also be performing with his band, Highway 65. “We’ve all seen a person on a street bench, but the extent of the problem is alarming and invisible. The work Heart for Homeless does to support people and assist with transitional housing is truly amazing. So, it’s an honor to do my small part for this event.”

The concert’s line-up covers a range of bands that will offer their own take on the genre that they all adore. Although each band is unique in its own way, there are common threads that unite every musician who will be taking the stage.

“No matter what type of country we play, such as classic, modern, outlaw, Y2K, southern or roots, we all have a reverence for the music,” Boggess said. “We are also all connected to Nashville. Some of us have lived there or live there now, and many of us go there regularly to gig, record music or otherwise get inspired.”

“We’re all in it for the same thing and coming back home for me makes it all the more exciting,” said Nashville-based performer and Centre Hall native Adam Yarger. “I see this concert as an opportunity to showcase myself and be the best I can be, just as the other artists will be doing. I think all of our set lists will really make for an entertaining evening.”

“Anytime you can bring together a collaboration of great bands working together for a great cause seems to create an amazing harmonic atmosphere of camaraderie,” added Jac Gassler, the bassist for performers Chrissy & the Heart Attacks. “It is a blessing to be able to participate and help others in need and we are privileged to be part of such an exciting event.”

Despite the fact the country music continues to maintain its massive fan base while also gaining new followers at an astonishing rate, Boggess admits that downtown State College seems to slag behind when it comes to offering a regular venue for live country music. By putting on this show, he has taken a page out of Ray Kinsella’s playbook and has built something in the hopes that audiences will come.

“State College is not a country music town, despite the fact that the Bryce Jordan Center sells out whenever a big country act comes around,” Boggess said. “So many of the undergraduates come from small towns in Pennsylvania, and we know they love country music, but they just can’t hear it much downtown. So, we are happy to give country bands and artists who might never get to play such a great venue as The State Theatre a change to shine.”

“Country music is an area in which the State College music scene is lacking, so I’m hopeful about the prospect of helping the scene grow through this event,” said performer Joe Quick. “The unique performance styles of all the bands represent the huge genre that is country music today, and it would be great if this show helped local establishment owners see the benefits of hiring more country music acts.”

While nobody is confusing State College with Nashville, an evening of country cover songs is sure to sound the sirens for both longtime fans as well as those in search of their first rodeo. Keepin’ it Country is the perfect gateway to this pure, American sound.

“Playing songs that people already know gets the audience involved,” said Yarger, who also headlined last summer’s Grange Fair. “Everyone will be singing along and dancing, and that in itself sends out tons of uplifting energy which is what we need for an event like this.”

“One of my favorite things is to look out into the crowd and see fans singing along, and hopefully the songs I picked will have the audience up and out of their seats,” Quick said. “It’ll be a fun night that supports not only a great cause, but also local musicians as well.”

Although folks are certainly encouraged to get lost in the music, they should try to keep in mind that the entire point of these good vibes is to support a great cause.

“Performing this at this show really means a lot to me,” Yarger said. “I’ve always used music and singing as an outlet for me to feel good, so to be able to do it to help someone else is the best feeling in the world.”

“Hearts for Homeless does incredible work, and I’m so grateful to be involved in an event that will bring awareness to this organization and also the issue of homelessness in Centre County,” Quick said.


  • What: Keepin’ It Country: A Benefit Concert For Hearts For Homeless
  • When: 8 p.m. Feb. 25
  • Where: The State Theatre, 130 W. College Ave., State College
  • Info: www.thestatetheatre.org