Author: Melissa Marshall
Take a look at one of the brightly-colored pamphlets decorating the tabletops of the dining halls on Monday mornings and anyone can see that the music scene at Middlebury is flourishing. From the increasingly popular Thursday night Pub Nights at The Grille, which host student-assembled bands, to bigger concerts by outside performers such as the sold-out MCAB Soulive show and the WRMC-sponsored energetic Boom Bip and Mae Shi performances earlier this year, live music at Midd is eclectic and exciting.
However, live shows aren't the only outlet for students to listen to diverse music-they can just turn their dials to 91.1 FM or log on to WRMC's web site to hear music not otherwise heard in the Champlain Valley. Lucas Kavner '06, a music manager at the station, explained the importance of college radio: "There are some really incredible, incredible bands out there, and the only way to hear them-besides downloading them-is on college radio. That's the beauty of it. And aside from the typical and independent music, this year especially I think we've had some amazing world music shows, electronic shows and kind of mix-and-match genre shows. It's not just 'indie rock' by any means. If you tune in, you're really bound to hear something interesting."
In addition, the emergence of new technology such as the omnipresent iPod (it's hard to spot a student on campus who isn't sporting the white ear buds in between classes) as well as Napster is starting to play a larger role in the developing musical taste of Middlebury students. Starret Berry '09, a DJ at WRMC and music enthusiast, said, "Students have become much more eclectic in their music tastes since they've come to college-not because of WRMC or MCAB necessarily, but because of 'My Tunes' and sites like Pandora. They can find that they like styles of music that they never even knew existed."
Various musical groups on campus are also gaining popularity and influencing students' musical tastes. The different a cappella ensembles draw large crowds among students, especially the Dissipated Eight, which will perform a show with the MisChords this Friday. However, the greatest musical impact on campus is seemingly wielded by the Middlebury Musicians Guild (MMG). "The MMG has become a force on campus by unifying the musical talent at Middlebury," said MMG President Conor Sheldon. "The executive board alone consists of members in four a cappella groups and three bands. The general tone of our meetings is that of a constructive, non-competitive nature."
Last year MMG organized a "battle of the bands," and this year they are working with Ross Commons in hopes of coordinating a three-band "Ross-A-Pallooza" event during the second weekend of J-Term and a Spring Music Festival in early 2006. "We've found that by eliminating this competitive nature among musicians, we've enabled ourselves to be very productive in achieving our goals," said Sheldon. "We see the presence of the MMG as a very powerful way in which to give more opportunities to Middlebury musicians under a common name."
The MMG has also contributed to musical awareness on campus through the building of a new recording studio, an endeavor that will make the College even more marketable to prospective students. The studio, which is located in the FIC building, consists of top-of-the-line recording equipment that will not need to be replaced as the facility grows. "The space-operational in J-Term- will provide an excellent outlet for student musicians to record high quality material and showcase their talents while other students can gain the technical skills required to become experienced audio engineers," said Sheldon.
Although the music scene on campus is thriving, much can still be done to enhance Middlebury's musical awareness and involvement. "One thing I can definitely say has changed in the past year is the general lack of bands that play consistent showson campus, " said Kavner. "There are a lot more 'amalgamations' these days. A lot of people who play music kind of 'jamming' together, but we don't have a lot of bands that people really go out of their way to see bands that play more than once a month."
In addition, certain new administrative policies may be holding back the potential of the Middlebury music scene. "Because of the new alcohol policy it's hard to have on campus bands play on-campus," said Kavner. "Also, the rule of no 'loud' shows on weekdays here has really limited WRMC's ability to bring a lot of bands in who can't make in on a Friday or Saturday night." It's the students who keep the music loud and playing here at Middlebury, so instead of playing fifteen rounds of Beirut on a Friday night, go to a concert, and instead of turning to an iPod, turn to 91.1-you may just discover a new passion.
If students would like to become more involved with the musical endeavors available on campus they can attend the WRMC general board meeting on Monday at 5 p.m. or the first MMG meeting of 2006 in the first week of J-Term.
Midd-kids tune in to the music scene Melissa Marshall investigates what's on air at Middlebury
Author: Melissa Marshall