Sound and food curator Corey Elbin is happy to be here

– by Heather Longley

Who is Corey Elbin?

Audibly speaking, he is DJ Elbow Knee Knee, audio mixologist and one of Happy Valley’s fastest-rising community figures. He is a curator of all-vinyl musicscapes for book release events, all-age dance parties, yoga salutations and baby raves. He also collaborates with Open Music, a project ensemble of musical humanists who celebrate today’s avant-garde artists.

Corey Elbin as DJ Elbow Knee Knee Rhoneymeade Fest 2022

- Photo courtesy of Corey Elbin

Edibly speaking, he mixes food groups as a chef at Webster’s Bookstore Café, working with local farms to help create meals using fresh, seasonal ingredients. He’s also one of the founders of SoBar Space, a pop-up booze-free cocktail caterer.

But each spring, Elbin is most known for his Gorinto Productions Rhoneymeade Festival, a three-day event at the treasured Centre Hall park featuring local and nationally touring world folk, Afrobeat, Indian and experimental music artists; regional eats; and enough positive mental attitude to pass around.

Elbin’s mission is to maximize every moment through the art of collaboration, integration, fulfillment, inclusion and experimentation. His secret? Location, location, location.

“I’m right where I need to be,” he said. “As long as I am seeing my role to include involving others and being open to helping our community, then I see no reason in comparing one place to the other. I love that we have the outdoors here, great local food and crafts, and there is a place for fringe and underground arts in a way that is public-facing and open-ended.”

"I love that we have the outdoors here, great local food and crafts, and there is a place for fringe and underground arts in a way that is public-facing and open-ended"

- Corey Elbin

What’s your Happy Valley story?

I have been living in State College since 2018. After moving around for the better part of 10 years in the Midwest, I found a home in Happy Valley! I have family that lives in the area, and my folks are Penn State graduates, so I have been visiting and coming to the area my whole life.

Talk to me about the ways you’re involved, including Rhoneymeade Fest, Gorinto Productions, DJ Elbow Knee Knee, etc.

Upon moving to State College, I almost instantly started working at Webster’s Bookstore I. It was here I was immediately engaged with the community through the opportunities and activities Elaine Meder-Wilgus and company offer. I booked my first Gorinto show there not long after starting as a cook.

In 2018, Elaine and I started SoBar, a mobile non-alcoholic bar focused on providing alternative social settings that do not have drinking alcohol at the forefront. After a COVID hiatus, I restarted SoBar, which has a home base in 3 Dots Downtown. The Gorinto and 3 Dots all-ages Monthly Dance Party is an alcohol-free event that hinges on SoBar being another gathering point beyond just the dance floor or the lounge.

DJEKK Rhoneymeade Fest at Chumleys

- Photo courtesy of Corey Elbin

I have been fortunate to organize a plethora of events; series; and residencies with local establishments and organizations. I am proud to be a primary programming partner of 3 Dots Downtown, from which I draw a great deal of collaborative inspiration. Gorinto’s 3 Dots initiatives include the all-ages dance party on First Fridays; the winter Weekly Listening Series; the Baby Rave; and the Forgotten Valley collaboration, which brings touring indie and DIY bands to the space.

In 2020, Gorinto Productions started Rhoneymeade Fest, which has become a premier experimental music and arts festival.

As DJ Elbow Knee Knee, I hold residencies in town and performing in around the country, including in Washington, D.C., and Denver. The all-vinyl sets are usually an eclectic mix of international music, Latin, Afrobeat, off-the-beaten-path disco and electronic, soul, funk and jazz — and anything else I can find hiding in the corner of a record store!

What is your internal motivation to do what you do, to network, to collaborate, etc?

Collaboration in the form of a joint vision of creation and allowing for the unknown and unexplored is the fuel behind Gorinto Productions. The events that we curate are many things, including wholesome, warming, welcoming and team-oriented. The idea of limiting ego in the arts and focusing on what we can all do together is one of the foundations of the work we do.

"The idea of limiting ego in the arts and focusing on what we can all do together is one of the foundations of the work we do"

- Corey Elbin

What makes Happy Valley so one-of-a-kind?

We experience a lot of change and growth in a way that allows people to recreate their idea of what is possible within the work and efforts that they do. We have folks with all sorts of different passions, due in part to outdoor beauty and exploration, and also the cultural diversity that comes with being in an area with a school that brings in folks from all around the world. The idea that we can mix all of these things together definitely excites me!

What’s one off-the-beaten path thing that you personally love about Happy Valley?

Walking the trails in Boalsburg!

What’s something every visitor should experience while they are here?

A performance by Open Music.

Heather Longley is an arts writer in living in Centre County.

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