State College’s The Brewery expands live music offerings

The Perkolators are among bands that perform at The Brewery in downtown State College.
The Perkolators are among bands that perform at The Brewery in downtown State College. Centre Daily Times, file

With all of the recent chatter about getting gigs where the giggin’s good, it seems local venues are turning toward a solution.

New music venues are emerging. Mount Nittany Winery is in the midst of a new fall music series. The All-American Rathskeller is now Doggie’s Pub and is getting back into the live music scene. Along with these, The Brewery — a longtime State College rock music venue — is putting together a variety of shows, including one on Oct. 10, featuring The Perkolators, Close to Consideration, Sam Hug, The Roof, Frank Musaraca and Aaron Bear.

“I’ve been throwing bi-weekly nights at the brewery on Wednesdays to bring in bands from out of town and smaller local acts who wouldn’t get a chance to play otherwise,” local musician and promoter Eric Milinchuk wrote in an email. “I run an early night of music from 9-12, usually as Thrill St. Presents, and have acts from all over the area.”

It’s been an organic development, with one thing leading to another, including Milinchuk’s ability to forge relationships and his involvement in the local scene as a musician.

“I was talking to the bartender at the brewery, Sho,” Milinchuk said, “and he suggested we work together to get some music that is a little different in town. I know a ton of musicians in the area, from playing in The Perkolators and other acts, and asked them to come down and join the fun. As word spread more bands started hitting me up, and I eventually started Thrill St. Productions to handle the amount of bands.”

With the ball rolling, Milinchuk already has his eye on what’s to come, along with an evolving vision, at The Brewery.

“I hope to expand this night to maybe having bigger acts on the weekend,” Milinchuk said. “They are really open to creating something unique in town.”

I’ve been to The Brewery a handful of times over the years. The first time was to see Brad Fey and The Brew Devils during their regular Friday night slot. I’ve also seen The Insomniacs there, and I’ve been there for open-mic nights in the past. It’s a legendary State College venue traditionally known for catering to college kids, but what I feel Milinchuk has going on is something a bit new. Any time a place books The Perkolators that place gets a bump up, in my opinion, because The Perkolators are a sweet, sweet band.

As for Milinchuk, he’s into doing what he can to both continue and recreate the scene at The Brewery.

“The Brewery has been open to non-traditional bands and music unlike some other the other bars in the area,” he said. “There used to be an event called the Jam Burger there, run by a guy named Drew Jackson, and I always went down. It used to be only covers and Americana in town for the most part but I think that is slowly changing as more and more owners take chances on new music.”

It’s not just about venues opening their doors either. That’s a necessary component, but it’s also about the musicians seizing the opportunity and being willing to take the gigs that are available. Local artists like Caryn Dixon and Eric Ian Farmer prove it is possible to gig four or five nights per week in our area, as long as musicians are willing to take what the scene gives.

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