Weekender

Centre County band Cone of Silence takes heartfelt approach to classic rock

Cone of Silence has been together as a band for about six years and plays various venues around Centre County, including Zeno’s Pub.
Cone of Silence has been together as a band for about six years and plays various venues around Centre County, including Zeno’s Pub. Photo provided

Some local bands are built from the ground up to capture the heart of a local community. It’s not always easy to decipher why it happens, but recognizing it is fairly simple.

Cone of Silence is that band and will be rocking Zeno’s Pub on Nov. 6, starting around 8 p.m.

“We are practicing hard for our Zeno’s show on the 6th and talking about our next big prog (prog rock) piece to learn,” Cone of Silence bassist James Miller wrote in an email. “Everyone is busy with ‘real life’ things, so the band is a great escape, a sanctuary if you will, where we can come together and share our love of good music.”

Miller captures the essence of Cone of Silence’s mission and vision with those few sentences, which is to get deep into the music the members love and to jam on those songs in a way that honors the songs as they are, but also transforms them into decidedly “Cone” music.

The members of the band include Miller on bass, Liz Grove on keyboards and vocals, Steve Christensen on guitar and vocals. John Lynch on drums rounds out a seasoned group of musicians who hold down busy day jobs, but also wear a variety of musical hats in Centre County, notably keeping quite busy with Cone of Silence gigs.

“We play at Zeno’s on Tuesday nights, usually about once every 4-6 weeks,” Miller said. “We also do the occasional festival show, private parties, and Kyle Peck’s Moonstock every summer.”

Cone of Silence has been together for about six years. I remember when they first started doing gigs at the vaunted Gamble Mill (RIP) and what the early buzz was about the band. Some friends and I were blown away by the songs they were playing, which were really pretty gutsy selections, including songs by Pink Floyd, Yes, Jefferson Starship, Steely Dan and even some B-side Beatles tunes from the Abbey Road era, amongst many others.

“We strive to play music we love to the best of our abilities,” Miller said. “We like to play complex tunes and sing big harmonies.”

The best of their abilities is, frankly, awesome. It’s challenging music to play, and what strikes me is there isn’t another band in the area doing that kind of thing — akin to XM radio’s Deep Tracks station — and getting gigs doing it. The truth is, Cone of Silence is the manifestation of every classic rock musician’s dream gig. Musicians who are or were into classic rock at one point sat around crushing on Pink Floyd, for example, wondering what it would be like to ramble through Comfortably Numb, jamming a solo that fits just right, paying homage to David Gilmour’s smooth guitar style, or even digging deeper and tapping into Syd Barrett’s erratic, albeit explosive genius. Cone of Silence is that band, and it’s all due to the hip collective vibe of the members, and naturally, because Cone of Silence is so tight and because it has such a heartfelt approach, the gigs are rolling in all over the place.

“We are humming right along,” Miller said. “(We have) Zeno’s shows on Nov. 6 and Dec. 11, then a bit of a break over the winter to learn some new material. We’ll be back at Zeno’s in February, and don’t forget about the Rock the 80s benefit show at The State Theater on Feb. 16.”

My recommendation: Go check out Cone of Silence. It’s a band full of a bunch of great musicians who get it. They love the music they play, play it really well, and are a great crew to spend some time with at lovely little places like Zeno’s.

“When we are on stage and everything is clicking it’s magic,” Miller said. “When we’re in the middle of a complex piece of music and we all come together to a big ending it’s pure joy. I think our fans pick up on that too. We can tell when we’ve nailed it — we feel it, the crowd feels it — the whole room is humming with energy.”

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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