By Jeffrey Allen Federowicz
For The Daily Item
MILLHEIM — Mark Hill, one quarter of the State College band Biscuit Jam, has a voice meant for music and for telling a story or two through song.
It’s a voice that can sing about life’s tribulations and the good times that sometime seem too far and few apart.
Tonight, Hill and his fellow biscuits will make the trek to the Elk Creek Café for an experience he calls an event.
“We try and create an event when we perform and not just four people standing on a stage making music and separated from the crowd,” Hill said. “We make it a good time with a feel good atmosphere where people can sing along if they want, get up and dance even if there is not a dance floor, and be part of the fun.
“We’re not just musicians, we’re entertainers.”
For the past three years Biscuit Jam has risen to the challenge of being a band that is of an acoustical nature performing a mix of Americana-inspired music from today and days long past that is able to maintain a modern and fresh vibe.
While Americana tunes is the Biscuit’s bread and butter, the quartet also rolls into the mix a large helping of rock and roll with an occasional bit of blues in the covers and original tunes they perform at venues in and around the State College area.
Hill, a business owner by day, noted the band is one of the busiest bands in Centre County performing an impressive 101 gigs so far this year.
“We all love what we do. We started playing at the Governor’s Pub in Bellefonte each week in 2010 and we got to be pretty good and things just went from there and more gigs followed,” he said. “We all love having the chance to get out and help people enjoy a night out and help them brighten their day or mood. Sometimes we’ll even have people join us onstage for a song.”
A few of those songs include tunes from Tom Petty, John Prine, The Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead, Old Crow Medicine Show, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and even Led Zeppelin.
Hill said there are a number of tunes from Zeppelin and The Stones that work well as acoustical numbers, especially since the band gives each song its own personal twist, including Bob Dylan’s “Wagon Wheel,” one of the most requested songs at nearly each and every performance.
Joining Hill on this musical endeavor is a trio of talents — Denny Hayes providing vocals, guitar and bass, the enchanting Kelly Countermine on vocals, four string banjo and guitar, and Nathan Cutshall on bass and vocals.
Pair all this with Hill’s soulful blues harp, mandolin, foot percussion plus vocals and the result is a band with a signature sound and vocals performed in three- or four-part harmony.
“This is our second time at Elk Creek and we’re thrilled to play at such a popular venue that attracts both area musicians as well as national acts,” Hill said. “We try and get the crowd involved as much as we can and we always try and make sure everyone has a great time.”