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'Rock the '80s' Concert Brings Together Local Bands to Help Cancer Patients and Families

by on February 12, 2019 5:00 AM

Each year, “Rock the ‘80s” brings local music lovers and musicians together in the name of one great cause: assisting cancer patients with their day-to-day living expenses that often go unpaid due to a lack of income during treatment and recovery.

Now in its eighth year, “Rock the ‘80s” — originally the idea of J.R. Mangan of Café 210 and the JR Mangan Band — has raised more than $90,000 to help local cancer patients. Norma Keller, the executive director of the Bob Perks Cancer Assistance Fund, says this year’s event, which takes place at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the State Theatre, will bring that total to well over $100,000.

“Rock the ‘80s” is just one of several annual events that benefits the Bob Perks Cancer Assistance Fund, but it’s also one of the most unique. It’s always held at the State Theatre, always includes Jeff Brown as emcee and always features more than 10 bands.

This year’s lineup includes Burn Unit, Cone of Silence, Cousin Neddie, Feats of Strength, Frackwater Jack, Giants of Science, The JR Mangan Band, My Hero Zero, Spider Kelly, The Long Afternoon and Tongue n’ Groove.

Since the first concert in 2011, Keller says, “The structure of the event has remained the same and the participating bands pretty much have remained the same. All of the bands volunteer their time for this event and really look forward to working with each other…”

She notes that they always pull out the 1980s favorites we all know and love, but also put in the time and energy each year to include some new ‘80s tunes not previously performed at the event.

“‘Rock the ‘80s’ is one of the loudest and most thoroughly exhilarating events held in Centre County,” she says. “The State Theatre removes some down-front rows of seats to make room for lots of dancing. Many who attend would rather ‘stand and rock’ the entire night than occupy their seats. ‘Rock the ‘80s is a very exciting, not-to-be missed event for music lovers, especially those that love and are forever attached to ‘80s music.”

While all the nostalgic tunes are a big part of the event and Keller says she loves watching all the local bands work together to put on a great show, she also enjoys seeing the community spirit that surrounds a volunteer-driven event that helps local cancer patients with needs that are sometimes not as obvious to those untouched by the effects of cancer.

“Most cancer patients assisted by the Bob Perks Fund are unable to work during their treatment and often a family member must stop working as well to provide home care,” Keller says. “Over the years, we have helped thousands of cancer patients avoid being evicted and having their utilities shut off, have helped them feed their families and keep their cars on the road to get to cancer treatments. And most noticeably, we have helped lift the huge emotional burden of unpaid bills, so they can concentrate on their treatment and recovery.”

Tickets for “Rock the ‘80s” are available on The State Theatre website at $40 per person. In addition to the concert, guests also have the opportunity to attend for an additional fee a pre-concert party hosted by The Makery and its owner, Amy Frank, with food and drinks (pre-concert party guests must be 21 years or older).

Keller says that “the fundraising success of “Rock the ‘80s” is largely dependent upon generous and supportive event sponsors.” This year’s sponsors include Converge PC; Larry Walker, Kissinger, Bigatel & Brower Realtors; AAMCO; America’s Carpet Outlet; McQuaide Blasko, Attorneys at Law; Mitchell Schmidt, M.Ed. CRC, ABVE/D, Forensic Vocational Expert; Restek Corporation; Stocker Chevrolet, Inc. and Stocker Subaru; Storm & Park Group, LLC; Ben & Robin Heim; R.H. Dotts Energy; State College American Legion Post 245; State College Motors; State College Orthodontics; Aimee Aiello; Jeff Brown; JR Manga; Photography by Marge Wallace; Rowland Creative; and The Makery.

For more on the Bob Perks Cancer Assistance Fund, visit

Holly Riddle is a freelance food, lifestyle and entertainment writer. She can be reached at [email protected]
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