Night Performances

Ultra Kings

Here are the First Night performances scheduled to begin after 7 p.m. on December 31, 2016. Click on the + for each listing to learn more.

This page reflects information available as of November 1, 2016. Events are subject to change. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact us.

You can find a description of all event venues and access directions here. Events marked with a B require a First Night Button for admittance.

The Gizmo Guys

State Theatre
Sponsored by Penn State Health

The New York Times called The Gizmo Guys “master jugglers with ebullient energy and exquisite skill. . . . human virtuosity with a touch of lunacy.” That’s not praise they hand out every day!  The Gizmo Guys, otherwise known as Allan Jacobs and Barrett Felker, have amazed and amused audiences around the world. They’ve played in more venues than we have room to name.  You name it, they’ve done it.  And in their spare time, they’ve made television appearances, won international juggling competitions, and taught at top circus schools. Their act is filled with a frothy combination of infectious humor and dazzling technique. Don’t miss this great show!

Natascha & the Spy Boys

St. Paul’s United Methodist Church
Sponsored by Kissinger, Bigatel & Brower – The Beth Richards Group

Natascha & The Spy Boys play an eclectic mix of blues, jazz, soul, swing & pop.
The soulful singer is backed by John ‘JT’ Thompson on keys, Doug McMinn on sax/clarinet, Robert Gardner on upright bass, and Stubby Stubbs on drums. The band plays at clubs and private events.

Callanish

State College Presbyterian Church

Since 2001, this traditional band brings music from Ireland and Scotland to the mountains of central Pennsylvania. The four women of Callanish, Patty Lambert, Gretchen Lee, Holly Foy and Louisa Smith share the music of their heritage – reels, jigs, polkas, hornpipes, and songs of love and longing for homeland.  Callanish has recently performed at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, the Centre County Grange Fair, Laurelfest, and the Williamsport Community Arts Center, where the band opened for Women of Ireland. The band’s latest CD is The Hare’s Paw.

Kim Cook

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

Kim Cook has performed as a soloist in the Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, and throughout the United States. At her Carnegie Hall debut, critics admired her “ravishing colors and textures”. She has toured extensively as an International Artistic Ambassador for the U. S. State Department, presenting concerts and master classes throughout the world, while here at home, Penn State honored her as the University’s inaugural Arts Laureate.

Ms. Cook’s recordings include the concertos by Dvorak, Haydn, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Saint-Saëns, and Lalo, as well as the solo sonatas by Kodaly, Crumb, and Hindemith.

A graduate of Yale University and the University of Illinois, Ms. Cook was principal cellist of the Sao Paulo Symphony and taught at New Mexico State before assuming her current position as Professor of Cello at Penn State. At Penn State, Ms. Cook’s cello studio has attracted talented cellists from Europe, Asia, and the United States.  The Penn State Cello Choir currently has become recognized for its performances and for hosting cello festivals.  Ms. Cook’s students have won many prestigious awards and former students currently occupy positions in orchestras and music schools around the world.

Miss Melanie & the Valley Rats

University Baptist & Brethren Church

This band came together in State College in the summer of 2010 and is comprised of seasoned veterans of the State College music scene and a new kid in town. The combination gives way to classic blues with a subtle twist. Playing blues from all eras but also original compositions, there’s something for all tastes. The band features Mark Ross of the fabled Queen Bee & the Blue Hornet Band along with vocalist Melanie Morrison Ziegler, James Harton, and Jordan Thompson.

Rick Hirsch

Faith United Church of Christ

The Rick Hirsch 3 is a perennial First Night favorite. This year Rick will be joined by seasoned improvisors Joshua Davis and Kevin Lowe. Josh is a virtuosic bassist who has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Blue Note, and at Lincoln Center. Kevin has a broad creative palette, regularly performing with groups ranging from Erin Condo & the Hoofties to the Zeropoint Big Band to Tyne & the Fastlyne. And saxophonist Rick Hirsch is an award-winning jazz composer, is the artistic director of the State Theatre’s Jazz in the Attic series, and is about to release the new album by his BIG ol’ BAND.

Yang Xiao Di

Penn State Downtown Theatre Center

A native of Shanghai, Yang Xiao Di became an apprentice acrobat at the age of six and rapidly excelled a variety of Chinese acrobatic genres, including equilibristics, juggling, trapeze, teeterboard, the traditional Lion Dances and clowning. In a career with several renowned circus troupes, he travelled the globe. Today he is a senior instructor with the National Circus Project, an arts-in-education project that teaches American kids performing skills. Since joining the NCP, he has toured in hundreds of public schools and community centers throughout the U.S., performing and teaching circus skills in his unique style to more than 150,000 American children.

Jackie Brown & the Gill Street Band

St. Paul’s United Methodist Church

The Gill Street Band is a 9-piece classic funk/soul/r&b band with perhaps the hardest working 4-piece horn section east of the Mississippi, or, at least in the Borough of State College. After performing the funkiest classic soul and horn music for over four years throughout the Commonwealth, The Gill Street Band is now performing with the addition of dynamic front-woman, singer, and performer, Jackie Brown. One writer, equating Ms. Brown’s powerful vocals and stage presence to Chaka Khan, the Queen of Funk-Soul, stated “Ms. Brown’s energy on stage with The Gill Street Band’s horns undoubtedly turns the focal point of any room into an all-night hip-shaking tempest. Don’t miss this band!”

The individual members backing Jackie have performed across the region in numerous professional touring bands, making The Gill Street Band an explosive horn-fired wall of sound to be reckoned with. This nine piece arsenal brings it at every show, in every venue, from start to finish laying down upbeat tunes that get your body jumping and your feet moving.

Laura Herts

Community Room, State College Municipal Building

Laura Herts, a wacky, energetic female non-scary clown was born  in Washington D.C. (the home of lots of different clowns) and began a world tour at the age of 18. Determined to evolve in the combining of theatre, physical comedy, and mime, she studied in Belgium at The School of Mime-Theatre Lassaa. After finishing her formal training, she created a unique world of clown-comedy derived from observations she made during her world travels. Since 1990, she has played at festivals, theatres, and cabarets all over the world, sometimes in the company of her own theatre company, The Traveling Laughter Association. This is her first trip to First Night State College.

The Gizmo Guys

State Theatre
Sponsored by Penn State Health

The New York Times called The Gizmo Guys “master jugglers with ebullient energy and exquisite skill. . . . human virtuosity with a touch of lunacy.” That’s not praise they hand out every day!  The Gizmo Guys, otherwise known as Allan Jacobs and Barrett Felker, have amazed and amused audiences around the world. They’ve played in more venues than we have room to name.  You name it, they’ve done it.  And in their spare time, they’ve made television appearances, won international juggling competitions, and taught at top circus schools. Their act is filled with a frothy combination of infectious humor and dazzling technique. Don’t miss this great show!

Hot Soup

State College Presbyterian Church

Sometimes called ―the Andrews Sisters of the 21st Century, Hot Soup concocts rich, intricate vocal arrangements that bring out the best in every melody and lyric. As they complete their 20th year of performing, audiences still love the variety in Hot Soup‘s repertoire, too – from ballads to blues and swing, from retro to funny songs –no two are alike. Add three zingy personalities plus delicious licks on guitars, harp, conga, udu and other hand percussion, and you‘ve got a blue-ribbon recipe for a spirited and SOUPerbly engaging concert performance!

The Ultra Kings

University Baptist & Brethren Church

The Ultra Kings have been together for fifteen years and have been tearin’ it up on stages in the North East and Mid-Atlantic states on a regular basis, and have even toured Europe. Rick K. Kuebler takes his Bigsby equipped Telecasters on a string twisting and bending workout in every show, resulting in plaudits from fans and peers alike. Carl Ehst slams down that rock & roll beat with authority and conviction, and Zoots Szmigiel manhandles his double bass with the finesse only a former professional alligator wrestler can bring to the instrument. Combining classic rockabilly and straight up rock and roll for the correct balance of happy, fun music, primal rock & roll, rockabilly, surf, and the blues, the Ultra Kings create a sound all their own.

Archie Blue

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

Archie Blue is a rock band that features the original songwriting of pianist Arthur Goldstein . Other members include Barbara Neumuller, Chris Younken, Steve Christensen, Carter Frieje.

The band plays original music in the spirt of The Band, Bob Dylan, Procul Harum, and Steely Dan. Look for a 6-song ep from Archie Blue soon.

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