Live Wire Brings Spark Of Rock, Funk, Blues To State College Bars

State College has no shortage of talented local bands, each of which brings its own unique flair.

Live Wire is no exception, bringing an extra spark of high energy music to the State College downtown bar scene.

The band is comprised of vocalist Kat Leverenz, back up vocalist/guitarist Zach Dennis, bass player Mario Lestz, keyboardist Sam Horn, and drummer Jim DeVoss. They perform from 7:30-9:30 p.m. every Saturday at Cafe 210 West and have played at the Allen Street Jam, Doggie’s Pub, Webster’s Bookstore, and Zeno’s Pub.

Live Wire began to form slowly when Leverenz met Dennis, who gave her guitar lessons. After their first lesson, Dennis suggested to Leverenz that they start a band. They found DeVoss through a Craigslist ad he had posted.

Courtesy of Live Wire

“[Zach and I] had been [playing music], just the two of us but in this town, you want a band for playing at the bars,” Leverenz said.

DeVoss, Leverenz, and Horn all have a Penn State connection. Leverenz is a senior music major, and Horn is a sophomore computer science major. DeVoss graduated from Penn State alumnus and now works for the library.

Dennis, Horn, and Lestz are all townies and were in the State College High rock ensemble together. While searching for more potential bandmates, Dennis reached out to Lestz. Leverenz was Live Wire’s original keyboardist before Dennis reached out to Horn for the spot.

Coming up with the band name took a little bit of brainstorming. They originally thought of calling themselves “The Sparks” due to the fact that the music they play has an extra spark of energy and their rehearsal space is on Sparks Street. However, Leverenz felt like there was something missing.

While on the White Loop one day, Leverenz was looking at the powerlines. She thought about electricity and sparks which led her to the name Live Wire. After taking her name idea back to the other bandmates, there was some debate, but ultimately they decided the name would work in the end.

Live Wire’s slogan for its music style is “Rock, Funk, and Blues for the Soul,” but it also features a medley of other genres. The group draws inspiration for the sound from Nina Simone, Sheryl Crow, and Alabama Shakes.

“We really want to make a connection with our audiences. We’re really playing music because it’s our passion and the love of our lives,” Leverenz said. “We love hearing what people want us to play and engaging with the audience and having a good time.

“Our music is real, down to earth, and from the soul. We put all we have into it and by doing so, [we] make real connections with people in the audience.”

The plan for Live Wire is to stay local for now due to Leverenz and Horn being full-time students, Dennis as a full-time musician, and DeVoss and Lestz having their own careers. However, they want to see where their State College experience takes them.

You can catch Live Wire from 7:30-9:30 p.m. every Saturday night at Cafe 210 West. You can also keep up with them on their Facebook and Instagram pages.

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Sadly, Mackenzie graduated from Penn State in 2022. She majored in English and served as one of Onward State's associate editors. You can keep up with her life and send compliments to @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.

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