THE BOMBER JACKET recently got a chance to sit down with Dan Collins, producer of the Apache Records compilation of State College music, Now And Then: The State College Music Scene 1968-2012. The double disk album features 40 tracks of original music from half a century of local State College bands. The idea for the compilation was born in the wake of the Sandusky scandal that devestated the local community. Looking for something positive to do for the town, local musicians started talking about putting together an album of music from the town’s bar bands, and donating the proceeds from the album to Happy Valley Cares, a local organization dedicated to helping victims of abuse. The idea grew until it encompassed over 40 years worth of music created locally in State College.
The majority of the music falls into either the rock, folk or country genres, by far the most popular types of music with the typical State College populace. Most of the bands featured in this compilation were popular local acts of their time, playing many a bar or frat house. This town is an anomaly from typical college town music scenes; whereas many college towns feature vibrant local music scenes, in State College, cover bands are the big sellers. Most bargoers in this town would rather hear familiar tunes they already know than take a chance listening to something new. As a result, playing out at a bar with your own songs is a difficult gig to get. All the people on this album managed to break through that barrier, either doing mostly originals or mixing originals in with the cover tunes the local populace inexplicably craves.
The album is a labor of love, and the biggest undertaking yet for Apache records, a local record company started by Phillip Masorti back in 2009. In the interview, we talk to Collins about how he went about putting the record together, the challenges involved, and the overarching vision for the compilation. The album has broad appeal. PSU alumni from the last 40 years can pick the album up and be sure to hear a few bands they heard while out for drinks during their college years. Recent grads will surely recognize some of the newer acts, most of whom are still playing in one of the town’s many bars. Music fans who’ve never set foot in Happy Valley are offered a time capsule of the last half century of popular music in the middle of central Pennsylvania, and may find a few gems they’ve surely never heard.
Future Apache compilations may focus more on other aspects of the State College Music scene, like the underground indie music scene, or the suprisingly robust S.C. Punk legacy. Collins and Apache have an open mind about the type of music they want to release, and really seem dedicated to exposing as much local music as they can to as wide an audience as possible. We at TBJ wish them great success in this mission. Watch our interview with producer Dan Collins, and consider checking out the compilation Now And Then: The State College Music Scene 1968-2012. Special thanks to Jen’s cat, who makes a cameo appearance in the video.