Acoustic Brew Concerts are back for spring season in Centre County

Beppe Gambetta will perform Saturday during the Acoustic Brew Concerts series at the Center for Well Being in Lemont.
Beppe Gambetta will perform Saturday during the Acoustic Brew Concerts series at the Center for Well Being in Lemont. Photo provided

The Acoustic Brew Concerts series, the monthly event highlighting on folk and acoustic music in Centre County, is back for its spring season.

Acoustic Brew is an all volunteer staffed, nonprofit folk-oriented concert series established in 1992, organizer Jim Colbert wrote in an email. Most performances are held at the Center for Well Being in Lemont.

“The intimacy of the small space, and the (usually) completely acoustic, unplugged setting creates a warm, inviting environment where there are few barriers between the audience and performer,” he said.

It’s a welcome addition to the Centre County music scene, which is a wonderful scene, but is well saturated with venues that serve alcohol, and venues where music is only not always the main focus. In the Acoustic Brew series, the music is it, which is a gift to both the musicians and audiences that love to drop in to a musical performance.

This spring, a slew of musicians will be making a stop at the Acoustic Brew series.

“We’ve got a great mix of performers, from cello to bluegrass to singer-songwriters,” Colbert said.

Even though it’s a nonprofit, and even though it’s a relatively small organization tucked away here in Centre County, the artists who perform at the series are generally professionals who travel a bit to perform. Beppe Gambetta, who will take the stage on Saturday, has performed at events such as MerleFest and even the Ryman Auditorium — the original Grand Ole Opry.

“This week’s performer will be Beppe Gambetta, one of the world’s premiere flat picking guitar players, and a consummate entertainer,” Colbert said. “It’s going to be an amazing show.”

Tickets are $22, and there are multiple ways to purchase tickets.

“On the logistic side, we’re also now equipped with offering credit card purchases at the door, which is a big plus for so many people,” Colbert said.

Getting a musician like Gambetta to come is a big deal. He’s one of the premier guitarists in the world with a sterling resume.

“I was at a musical weekend in New Jersey called the Folk Project Acoustic Getaway, and was hanging out in the lobby of our cabin with Ithaca singer songwriter Joe Crookston,” Colbert said. “Beppe came in to warm up for the evening’s feature concert, and I pretty much decided on the spot that we needed to have him return to Acoustic Brew.”

The enthusiasm behind Colbert’s story highlights the spirit of Acoustic Brew.

“I’m sitting on this little loveseat, with one of the world’s best guitar players about a foot away from, playing unbelievably softly and working through scales and licks at an ever increasing pace until his fingers are just flying across the fretboard,” Colbert said. “He’s bouncing song ideas off us ... he delivered an unbelievable show that evening.”

The mission of Acoustic Brew is to simple: to spread and promote acoustic music.

“This is truly a labor of love for us,” Colbert said. “We love the music, and being able to bring in not just some of the top national and regional acoustic artists, but also the artists who are going to be filling the bigger venues a few years down the road.”

In the future, the Colbert and the rest of the board hope to expand programing to include younger artists as well.

“We would love to see more younger acoustic music fans,” Colbert said, “and this is an issue nationwide with folk-oriented organizations like our own. We’re working on ideas there, including shows featuring some very young, but very good performers. We’ll continue to work toward diversity in our programming selection as far as genres, to keep our ticket prices affordable, and to keep the quality level top notch.”

If you go

What: Acoustic Brew Concerts: Beppe Gambetta

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Center for Well Being, 123 Mount Nittany Road, Lemont

Info: acousticbrew.org

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