Perkolators bubble over with self-styled reggae jam

Local music fans are praising The Perkolators, a band that performs covers of reggae, rock and jam-influenced masterpieces. With influences including Led Zepplin, Coldplay, Bob Marley, Gnarls Barkley and more, the Perkolators’ delightfully original takes on the songs they cover is refreshing.

On June 1, the band will open a show for national recording band Rusted Root and locals Mysterytrain.

“We have a distinct sound we like to call ‘reggae /jam,’ ” lead singer Crissee Gordon said. “We stand out a little more than typical bar bands. Also reggae bands usually have male vocalists, so having a female singer changes it up a bit. ... We are all really good friends and I think you can see and feel that in our music, everyone communicates really well which makes for some really tight jams.”

Gordon channels a young Gwen Stefani, perhaps with a bit more soul in her chops. Her voice is cute and feminine, but there is substantial power in her lungs, and when she wails, she can belt out notes with the most accomplished of vocalists.

Bass player Ed Colby plays catchy licks fluently and soundly. Eric Milinchuk fills the roles of backup singer and lead and rhythm guitar flawlessly, and he comes to the stage with an arsenal of tasty licks, some strangely reminiscent of Modest Mouse, in that they’re catchy, yet a little dark and spooky as well.

Drummer Matt Price (also of Rubix Cubed and Judgement Shall Pass) sits at the kit. Percussionist/bongo player Ethan Roberts keeps the classic reggae jam vibe strong with his rhythms. Keyboard player Eric Kapusta (also of the Nightcrawlers and the Insomniacs) fills out the sound with gusto.

Together they play the songs they love with deep affection and blessed originality, and, unlike other jam bands, they don’t overdo it. The Perkolators rock out appropriately and end the songs before they lose momentum, and they have a knack for removing the repitition the reggae genre is known for.

The idea started when Milinchuk had an epiphany: “I’ve been playing music for years and what music does everyone naturally start dancing to? Reggae!”

He enlisted his friends and set off to make Happy Valley a safer place for reggae and rock.

“This project is a way for me to ... channel the energy and message of reggae to a vast range of people,” Milinchuk added. “We try to cover songs that haven’t been covered in town before or play originals and with both put a lot of jam emphasis on the songs. We are a bar band that border the line of jam band.”

Local concertgoer Charles Brown couldn’t contain his excitement: “I’m thrilled that The Perkolators are bringing the reggae back to State College.”

In that he is not alone.

“I like the energy that The Perkolators bring to a crowd,” fan Duane Green said. “They play a mix of fresh originals, beloved covers and some off-genre songs that they make their own. It’s refreshing to see something new in State College.”

“Hopefully ... we get a good fan base, and with luck we will release an LP by the end of the summer,” Milinchuk said. “We will continue to provide State College with a way for someone to go to show and have a lot of fun.”