Weekender

2018 is looking bright for the local music scene

John Rattie, left, talks with Tim Bowser, owner of Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks, while mixing sound for a 2011 show. Elk Creek will continue to host live music this year.
John Rattie, left, talks with Tim Bowser, owner of Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks, while mixing sound for a 2011 show. Elk Creek will continue to host live music this year. Centre Daily Times, file

I’ve seen a lot recently about the futility of making New Year’s resolutions, and I have to say I agree, but it’s not because I’m a nihilist or because of some other heady resistance to growth. It’s quite the opposite.

Instead of spending time deciding what I hope to do or what I think it would be important to do in 2018, I’m going all in. There are no hopes and dreams. Yoda said it best when he famously told a skeptical, self-sabotaging Luke Skywalker, “Do or do not, there is not try.” In the law of intention and desire, there is no past or future tense, it’s all in the present.

So, here’s what’s happening.

The Centre County music scene is sensational. We have such a small little area here in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, but, as I somehow say at least a few times a month right here in this column, it’s hard to know where to start with all of the musical awesomeness we are blessed to have.

This year is the best year yet. It’s not going to be; I don’t hope it is — it just is, because it’s happening right now as you read this and as I write. Elk Creek Café + Aleworks is rolling, Zeno’s Pub is firing out great musical acts most days of the week, The State Theatre has remained awesome since its awakening in fall 2016. Café 210 West, The Phyrst, Local Whiskey, Karma, Otto’s Brewery, Happy Valley Brewery, The Bar, Big Spring Spirits, Good Intent Cider, the Broken Axe Brew House, The Freq, First Fridays, Happy Valley Winery, The Allen Street Grill and every other place that supports local music are — right now — crushing.

Sure, we’re losing the Rathskeller, and it is certainly a blow, but the music isn’t stopping. Musicians are still gigging all over the place, studios are still churning out local albums and demos. Music stores are still pushing the boundaries of what we’ve come to expect, what with the emergence of Penn Tone amps and guitars.

I should also say, I teach high school English and the future is very bright for our area. My guitar mentoring group that meets about once a week is full of some of the best and most passionate musicians I’ve ever met. They play guitars and ukuleles together, support each other and have divergent views regarding what makes good music. I see them and I see the next generation of performers getting ready to blow the top off of what we already have going on.

In 2018, we will get even more great places to have live music, more configurations of musicians and more new talent emerging. It’s not going to happen. It is happening, and it’s a wonderful train to have the privilege to ride.

Kevin Briggs is a musician, writer and teacher who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs@gmail.com.

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