Ever since Middlebury’s enrollment started going up and acceptance rate start going down, many have noticed the social scene here has gone flat. Traditions such as Winter Carnival and Quidditch lack the energy they once had, the attendance at sports games go down as workloads go up, and parties in the Atwater Suites and in social houses seem to blur together. Shared experiences that permeate the polarized social groups at Midd are rare if existent at all.
One glaring reason for this is Middlebury’s lack of a music scene. While Middlebury has many talented musicians, there are basically no bands at this school, at least none with followings that create a buzz on campus. And there is hardly any real music culture that musicians can be a part of.
“[Right now] if you want to play with people, you have to organize it yourself,” says Elias Alexander ’13, one of the few musicians constantly active in the Midd’s small music scene (notably the Brooker Liquor Cooperative and Awkward Teen Sex the Band). But organizing a band on your own, finding equipment and a practice space, and then getting a venue to play at is a lot to ask of Middlebury’s musicians who are extremely busy as it is. “The hardest thing is getting connected and finding people who play your style,” says Alexander.
Mike Gadomski and Parker Woodworth, both class of 2013.5 and active musicians, plan to directly address this problem with the rebranded Middlebury Musicians United (MMU) (formerly the Middlebury Musicians Guild). The centerpiece of MMU is its new social-networking website for musicians on campus, which went live earlier today. The website will provide a place where musicians can connect and form bands by looking up musicians based on instrument, style, previous bands, etc.; where already formed bands can find missing instruments and venues; where venues can find bands and musicians for parties and events and where the general Middlebury community can find out about what is going on. Woodworth hopes that MMU will become a place people will regularly check to find out what’s happening around campus.
Erik Benepe ‘13.5, an officer for MMU, helped start one of the few bands with a following at Middlebury in recent years–Lamb Chop and the Mint Jam. Mint Jam’s shows were a huge success, generating hype across campus for their shows in party venues like the basement of Palmer. He is excited to see what will happen when more groups like Mint Jam start forming and playing at venues around campus. As Benepe put it, “I would much rather see good music being performed than someone pressing a button on their iPod.”
Woodworth hopes that if a few bands start playing, it will become contagious, “People will be watching a band and be like ‘they are killing it, I want that,’ and then be inspired to start their own band.”
And with MMU, venues could find musical acts for their parties, providing variety for students on the weekends. For example, Porter House has expressed interest in having jazz performances as they’ve had in the past. And social houses have also expressed interest in hosting bands for their parties instead of just DJ’s, who they will be able to find on MMU.
So if you are a musician or DJ, Woodworth and Gadomski encourage you to take a few minutes to go to go/mmu, make a profile for yourself or your band and start connecting with other musicians.
Hopefully the innovative website will reinvigorate Middlebury’s dead music scene and start making weekends more fun and memorable while providing shared experience for people in all social groups on campus.
Readers, what do you think about Middlebury’s music scene or social scene in general? Alumni, what was the music and social scene like when you attended Midd? Musicians, would this be a resource you would take advantage of?