‘It’s gotten bigger each year.’ Local band’s annual benefit concert returns this weekend

Local band Hops & Vines holds an annual benefit concert for a Centre County nonprofit.
Local band Hops & Vines holds an annual benefit concert for a Centre County nonprofit. Photo provided

There’s more to local band Hops & Vines than a catchy name, and the annual benefit concert that returns this weekend proves it.

That concert, “Hops & Vines & Friends” starts at 6 p.m. Saturday at Big Spring Spirits and raises money for Housing Transitions.

“It started off as an anniversary show for our 100th show,” Hops & Vines guitarist Jonathan McVerry, aka Hops, said. “We’ve had four of them since, and so far it’s gotten bigger each year.”

More than a dozen musicians are slated to perform at this year’s show. Each year, the band selects a different nonprofit to benefit.

“There is a suggested donation at the door,” Hops & Vines singer Christie Clancy, aka Vines, said. “That gets you a drink ticket, but then 20% of drink and bottle sales will go toward Housing Transitions as well. Throughout the night we’ll have some raffles. Big Spring usually donates some things. I know Housing Transitions is putting together something to donate, and then we keep the tip jar out all night.”

It’s a grassroots initiative, straight from the heart space of Hops & Vines, and it goes right back into the community.

“We’re just happy with anything people can contribute,” Clancy said. “We’ve had some people ask if they’re able to donate since they can’t make it, and we just say go straight to Housing Transitions and donate to them if you can’t make it and want to help.”

The set list includes many popular and classic rock songs Hops & Vines specializes in performing, and the musicians will drift in and out of the songs all night. One of the musicians, local songwriter and Blind Horse Wagon band leader Doug Irwin, said he’s excited about the night.

“It’s cool to get the chance to hear so many great local performers all in one place for the night,” Irwin said in an email. “It’s cool trying to fool yourself into thinking, ‘This is the year I’ll hold my own next to Christie.’ (Hah! You won’t!) Most of all, it’s great to get out there and have some fun making music for such a worthwhile cause.”

Philosophically, it’s all about supporting great causes in our local community, helping in any way local music can rally people to do so.

“It’s the final piece of what makes the community a community,” McVerry said. “Bringing all of these local pieces together. It’s a local establishment, food, drinks, music, organizations, people. It makes the whole area unique for all of the people who live here and come to gather at the spot.”

Clancy emphasized the impact music can make.

“The music is a great way to do it,” she said. “People want to hear good musicians, hear tunes they love, enjoy their night, and if they do it and support something that helps the community what better way. Grabbing a cocktail and some food sounds like the perfect evening.”

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