FRIDAY * 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Garner Side Stage
It all began many moons ago, the scene, a darkened basement bar, also known as The Brewery. Two men are sitting at the bar, these two spent quite a bit of time sitting at bars. Their names Brent Martin and Brian Kriley they had both had a few beers which helps to explain how this life changing conversation occurred. (Brian, aside from not being known for his social candor unless of course he’s had a few, was playing with a band that went by the name of “broken”. Broken was somewhat successful but still more or less a collection of angry young men who were going to change the world by playing their own music. Which of course led to them having more of a “cult following”, instead of the wild success they thought they deserved. Brent, on the other hand, had recently ended his days of playing with “The Unknown” an extremely popular band in the State College scene. They achieved this playing many of the same covers that Broken did and managed to play some of their own music too. So the fact that the angst-ridden Brian had such a conversation with a former member of Broken’s archrivals is quite significant. Must have been the beer.) Anyway back to the story, Brent turns to Brian and says, “I have a dream! A dream to play in a band that plays cheesy 80’s cover tunes, and I will call this dream VELVEETA!!”. Brian gasped because he had also had this dream, though not as fully realized, no cool copyright infringing name appeared in his dream. Brian then replied, “I will join you in the quest to make this dream a reality”.
Soon after Brian went to his bandmates John “Bones” Harper, John Matthews, and Mike Lee and explained the dream. There was some initial trepidation, Broken was a band that had integrity how could they possibly give up the good fight. But after some time of getting up at 6:00 A.M. to go to their day jobs Broken decided that selling out maybe wasn’t such a bad thing. After a few weeks of practicing Velveeta made their debut at The Brewery playing a Friday “Happy Hour” from 6-8 in August of ’95. They kicked off their career with “Cars” by Gary Numan and stumbled upon the genius marketing gimmick of serving cheese and crackers at these early performances. It not only drove home the cheese aspect but also brought in hungry patrons to check out the show.
After playing a few weeks Velveeta became six members strong with the addition of Matt “Zippy” Zelenz who added his vocals and auxillary percussion skills to the fold. Soon Velveeta the little happy hour “joke” band was everywhere playing many different clubs in State College and began to expand their influence throughout PA and elsewhere.
In October of 1998 Velveeta celebrated their 3rd birthday and said goodbye to Zippy, though he was around to help out when we needed him or for special occasions. He’s still around as a State College staple playing with other former Velveetians, Mike and Steve, in “My Hero Zero”.
The next major event in Velveeta’s history came on June 29, 2002 they had to say farewell to John “Dudeman” Matthews ’twas a sad day, losing a founding member of the band. But as it turned out Matthews was available to sit-in every now and then or just show up occasionally to help them drink some beer and shots. The loss of Matthews resulted in the acquisition of an extremely talented young man named Steve Bentz formerly of State College’s jammygeniuses Bluesuedegroove. His enthusiasm and abilities added a new and different dimension to Velveeta, he broadened our horizons considerably.
The last EPIC change occurred on January 12, 2008 when Mike and Steve decided it was time to move on. Aptly titled “Crossroads Weekend” we had to say goodbye to a fairly new friend, brother and all out important dude in Steve we had to let go of a founding father and Brian’s longest ever guitar partner/crutch in Mike. A sad day indeed to many but Velveeta could not be held back and soldiered on to find a replacement(s) to fill the loss.
So after some talking and looking around checking the “scene” to see who would be interested it came down to an old friend deciding that it was time to get back on the horse. John Matthews said, “I want back in!” and we said, “Let’s have a go!”. The rest they say is history, Velveeta has since been a 4 piece (all founding members) rock wrecking crew, and showing no signs of stopping.
Quite a long and involved story for a band that started as a joke…