Hops & Vines, Hops & Vines, Hops & Vines...
The name is super catchy, right? Take what is arguably the tastiest ingredient in beer and combine it with a drink so old Homer used to sing about it in days of lore, and you have a magic combination that results in sweet, listening goodness for anyone lucky enough and thirsty enough to hear.
That’s right. It’s Jonathan McVerry — Hops — and Christie Clancy — Vines — and they’re playing it as solid as can be and singing it proper, respectively. They’ve been soothing audiences for a few years now and the gigs keep rolling, deservedly so. They’ve been all over Centre County, from Zeno’s Pub to Big Spring Spirits, and, frankly, they’re equally as awesome to listen to as they are to hang out with.
Hops & Vines usually performs everything you ever thought you’d want to hear, but in a way that emphasizes Clancy’s sweeping vocals. There’s no song she can’t sing, and she brings her charm, her wit and her heart every time, while McVerry lays the foundation with his flawless rhythm. However, this week there’s something a little different going on, an annual event Hops & Vines throws.
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“(The event is) Hops & Vines & Friends,” Clancy said. “We’ve gathered some talented friends to join us at Big Spring Spirits on Sept. 23, from 6-8 p.m., for an evening of music that benefits Centre County Paws. Admission is a donation of items needed, available on our Facebook event page or website, or a monetary donation.”
It’s a classic case of sharing and, hence, spreading the proverbial love. The gig started last year as Hops & Vines was celebrating — roughly — its 100th show, so the next logical step was to give back in some way.
“We did this last year for local food banks to celebrate our 100th-ish show,” Clancy said. “We started out playing at the Gamble Mill so looked for a place in Bellefonte to hold it. Big Spring Spirits was the perfect spot. It’s our way of thanking those who have played with us, supported us and a way to give back to the communities.”
The musical cast is a who’s who on the local scene.
“So far, we have Kate Twoey, Molly Countermine, Eric Ian Farmer, Jason Crane, Kyle Schmid, Glenn Walstrom, Stephanie Swindle Thomas, Brad Fey and maybe one or two more,” Clancy said. “It’s hard to get out to see all of these great musical acts in the area, so why not have a benefit where we all get to play music together and have some fun. We’re such fans of them all.”
The event promises to be awesome, as Hops & Vines events often are, and it’s due to a lot of different factors. One is the fact that Hops & Vines is giving back to the community, another is all of the sweet, sweet musicians who will be helping out, and still another has to do with Clancy and McVerry themselves, the heart of the project, the masterminds, if you will.
“Playing music is straight up fun,” McVerry said. “I’ve been into music for nearly my entire life, I guess this is all an excuse to be a part of it. Writing music. Learning songs. Playing for people in different places. It’s always a rush when people go from sitting to standing to dancing. That will never get old. Plus, it’s pretty darn amazing to play with Vines, who could be winning Grammys if she wanted to. I just want to keep on learning more and getting better, so she can keep on wailing.”
McVerry’s heart and enthusiasm aside, the vision for the future is big, as it should be.
“Now that this is an annual event, I’d like to extend an invitation to Bruce Springsteen and/or Eddie Vedder to join us next year,” he said.
Kevin Briggs is a musician, writer and teacher who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs @gmail.com.