Collectively Bringing Music Back

Travis Sewalk by Samantha Schwartz

One group of New Paltz students is collectively trying to revitalize the New Paltz music scene by providing fellow music lovers and enthusiasts with a safe, alternative form of entertainment.

Chartered last semester, the New Paltz Music Collective is the collaborative effort of students looking to “diversify the music scene in New Paltz,” according to Collective President Sharon Hillman, a third-year psychology major.

Hillman and her friends initially started the club out of frustration that few venues besides bars or basements held shows they wanted to attend. They sought to provide a drug-and-alcohol-free environment where students could listen to underground bands in an intimate setting.

“Other schools around here have clubs like this and we thought it could be a great form of entertainment for students,” Matt Miccio, a third-year computer engineering major and club vice president, said. “New Paltz used to have such a strong music scene and we want to help bring it back.”

The club made its debut in New Paltz last November when it hosted their first show in Student Union 100. Artists Steve Layman, Koji, Dads and Paul Baribeau performed to an audience of about 120 students and nearly 50 non-students.

As their first large-scale event, the collective admits there were a few bumps in the road, the first was to convince the school to approve the event.

“We wanted to make sure the school understood that this show wasn’t of the caliber of the spring concert,” Hillman said. “This was a small-scale event, so we needed to hold it in a venue that worked. We realized quickly that our school doesn’t really have spaces conducive to intimate shows like this.”

Other issues the club faced included getting the word out about the show and not being able to book it on a weekend.

“Being a new club, we were really nervous about this first event,” Larry Ferretti, a third-year computer engineering major and club treasurer, said. “We planned it out and made an event on Facebook. The numbers [of people attending] instantly jumped. The hardest part about throwing any program on campus is the publicity. But it was our first show and it was a start. We want to continue not just bringing punk life to school, but introducing students to other alternative bands as well.”

The collective held their second show on Sunday, March 10 in SU 100, featuring touring band The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, Our Daily Fix, Oswald and Quarterbacks.

Despite the fact that the show was held on a Sunday to accommodate the touring band’s schedule, there were 54 students in attendance.

Booking manager and fourth-year business marketing major Travis Sewalk said he tries to hire bands with similar vibes that will complement each other.

“It’s such a hassle to book shows at school, but it’s worth it,” Sewalk said. “It shows kids that you can still do stuff like this, and it doesn’t have to cost as much money as larger-scale concerts. These bands that students actually listen to and know are more attainable.”

Although this show yielded a smaller audience than the last show the Collective put together, it was well-received and students elicited a positive response to the headlining band’s performance, according to Ferretti. The crowd was moved by new versions of the songs not released on any of their records, he said.

Not only does the collective want to hold shows on a more regular, even monthly, basis, but they would also like to use their weekly meeting times to do more than event-planning. The club plans to share music and hold listening parties during their meetings.

“We’re trying to bring back the traditional ideas that New Paltz was founded on,” Ferretti said. “New Paltz was a big music scene and we’re trying to be progressive while expanding.”