Bill Filer is the modern-day one-man band. He does it all.
With the help of today’s technology, Filer said he has the ability to sequence different instruments in his home and have them playback, as he plays the electric guitar.
“Some songs take me three days to play all the parts, but at the end of the night once again it’s just me,” Filer said.
For the past 15 years, Filer has had a gig at the Allen Street Grill , where he plays for the patrons on the weekends. He performs at the restaurant from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
But Filer said he did not always have his mind set on playing music for a living.
As a graduate of Penn State , he received a degree in electrical engineering. After college, Filer said he juggled an engineering job, playing in a band, and teaching guitar, but the stress eventually got to him.
“After four years, I had to quit something, so I quit my engineering job,” Filer said. “I always had this burning passion to make my living doing what I love.”
He attended the Guitar Academy after quitting his job and committed full time to playing music, he said.
He began by playing in bands, traveling mostly up and down the East Coast. Eventually, he said it dwindled down to him performing solo.
He worked for hotels and weddings, but over 15 years ago, Filer said he moved back to State College for personal reasons.
He found a gig splitting the time at the Allen Street Grill with another musician, but over the years, Filer became the only musician performing at the restaurant. What began as part time turned into a 15-year gig.
“It’s truly astounding,” Filer said. “I’m really fortunate.”
The staff at the Allen Street Grill feels just as fortunate to have Filer.
“Everybody loves [him], from alumni to current students to people who may have just run across him,” Bar Manager Mary Weaver said.
The customers’ love of Filer is evident. People consistently come by to greet him and catch up, sometimes people he doesn’t even know.
“The best is when people come up to Bill and start yelling about how their aunt’s cousin’s uncle knows him,” Justine Leaman, a server at the Allen Street Grill, said.
On the days he is not at the Grill, Filer said he works in his recording studio Audible Images , which is located in his home.
With his electrical engineering background, he built and wired his entire studio on his own. He has helped many local artists record original work, as well as some well-known names like Delmar Brown , the keyboardist for Sting and a percussionist who worked on Paul Simon’s “Graceland .”
Free time does not happen often for Filer, he said.
“When you’re self-employed, you’re afraid to take time off,” he said.
When a break does arise, Filer enjoys riding his motorcycles and mountain biking. He also found the time to earn a third-degree black belt in karate.
But he shrugs off the feat like it is nothing. He said earning the black belt is just like music–– it takes perseverance.
Still, Filer doesn’t complain about his lack of free time.
“Guitar is my real passion,” he said “I’m a real student of the guitar.”
He has over 10 electric guitars, and Filer said he honestly couldn’t pick his favorite. In the end, Filer said, he just enjoys playing.
Filer said he worked hard to get where he is today but is also very appreciative of what the Allen Street Grill has allowed him to do.
“I’m not here for me,” Filer said. “I’m here to do what the people want to hear, and I’m okay with that.”