New Paltz is riddled with bands and local musicians, mostly made up of the SUNY student population. However, a little treasure cove can be found in town teeming with talent, and professors, in bands.
The focus here: Raj Pandya. Director of the John R. Kirk planetarium and a professor on campus, he’s quite the jack of all trades. As a bassist and a drummer, he performs in a variety of bands in the New Paltz music scene.
Saturday, Nov. 9, Pandya played bass in the band “Charge the Mound,” a 90s rock cover band. They jammed out at Bacchus with their 30-song set to a crowd of die-hard fans.
“I really love this music, and I didn’t know if it was still popular amongst the contemporary scene,” Pandya said. “I enjoy this band a lot, it’s fun, and what we play is what a lot of people know some of, but a lot of people won’t know all of.”
Charge the Mound adds a refreshing taste to the New Paltz music scene, which tends to play a lot of indie, funk or even more classic rock. ‘90s grunge like Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots and Nirvana aren’t heard in most house shows or venues, so Charge the Mound is filling that gap.
“We like people to be active. We don’t like to play at a scene where everyone is sitting around a table,” Pandya said. “We want people to be up and doing something on their feet.”
Charge the Mound consists of Mark Moore (Vocalist), Mike Dagostino (Guitar), Kenny Fiorisi (Drums), and Raj Pandya (Bass). A mash up of people with the same love for the music, they get people on their feet and keep the ‘90s alive.
Pandya has been playing music for most of his life, clocking in about 20 years of jamming.
“I’ve always tried to be in bands whenever possible,” Pandya said. “I grew up playing for fun in the basement with my brother.”
He’s no stranger to playing in bands since he often formed into bands in college, and the bands he’s been a part of all had different styles. New Paltz has been the home for his music for around five years.
Now, Pandya can be found playing drums in Questionable Authorities, an all-professor band dating back 16 years. One of Questionable Authorities founding members was the late Peter Kaufman, and his legacy lives on as his bandmates keep playing.
“I joined them this year. Questionable Authorities is also a cover band that plays classic rock, punk and pop rock. They span a range of ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s music,” Pandya said. “They are fun, sing-along dance-along music. They play a lot of the Ramones. We’d like to make it somewhat of a tribute to Peter, but we’re also still feeling it out.”
Thankfully, Pandya never had to choose between his love of music and science, and he’s even been able to combine both passions through music-related planetarium shows.
“I like to combine music and science with our big concert series in the Planetarium.,” Pandya said.
You can find Charge the Mound on Instagram @charge_the_mound and on Facebook at Charge The Mound, or catch them at Olives in Nyack on Jan. 10. The Planetarium will have a show titled “Music + Stars: Resonance” from Friday Nov. 15 to Sunday Nov. 17.