Student booking collective brings music, films to campus
Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 02:09
This article is the first in a series about musical outlets around campus.
Although Tufts tends to market itself as a quirky and unconventional place, there are only a few options for students looking for something to do on weekend nights that do not include squeezing through a crowded fraternity basement. Applejam Productions, a student booking collective that brings free concerts to Tufts, offers an alternative.
The group was originally called “The Applejam” and began in the early ‘70s as an annual music festival, according to senior Peter Balonon-Rosen, a former president of Applejam. Now the group is committed to bringing a mix of local and student bands to play at Tufts, he said. Applejam has in the past hosted bands such as Parquet Courts from Brooklyn, N.Y., Chalk Talk from Amherst, Mass., Parasol from Boston, Mass. and White Mystery from Chicago, Ill.
Sam Worthington, a sophomore and Applejam’s director of media and publicity, explained that Applejam is more than just a booking group.
“I would call it a booking collective that is trying to bring an alternative music scene and also an alternative social scene to campus,” he said.
“It’s a group that helps foster a community of people who have an interest in music and an interest in any sort of alternative way of living,” Balonon-Rosen added. “I think, traditionally, Applejam has been a little bit for the rock and roll weirdos — kids that are into punk and metal and stuff that is on the outside.”
For Worthington, Applejam offered the kind community he had hoped to find at Tufts.
“I kind of got the image that Tufts was going to have somewhat of an alternative social scene and wasn’t just a typical college campus with your average college parties with kegs and frats ... So [Applejam] was exactly the sort of thing that I had looked forward to, and I was doing it in high school at a similar level — going to DIY shows and punk and basement shows.”
The DIY — or do-it-yourself — ethic is an important philosophy for Applejam, according to the group’s president, junior Cooper Loughlin.
“[DIY] is the way we run our club,” he said. “As individuals, we contact bands, and besides going through the university to get a space, it’s all things that we do personally. It’s not a huge hierarchy of people. We are talking to bands one-on-one and interacting with people who go to the show — everyone is kind of on the same level.”
Balonon-Rosen, who has been involved in the DIY punk and hardcore scene since he was 14, said that passion drives these types of communities.
“You have people doing this not because they think they’re going to make money or be on the cover of Rolling Stone, or be the next big thing, but because that’s where their passion lies,” he said. “So for Applejam, the DIY part is the fact that we are making it happen by any means necessary ... Shows are happening because we’ll have four 18-to-22 year olds who are really stoked about this one band and would love to have them play here.”
Applejam on Sept. 20 hosted their first show of the year, featuring the bands American Symphony of Soul, Bad and Blue, Dumpster Banana, the Dusty Wanderers and Hayes Peebles in the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room. According to the Facebook event, 200 people attended and each performance was a “showcase of Tufts’ homegrown musical stylings.”
When looking for bands to come to Tufts, Worthington explained that Applejam looks for a blend of touring, Boston-area and Tufts bands that students will enjoy.
“In many respects, I think, part of what Applejam is trying to do is take music that kids wouldn’t normally listen to and expose them to it,” he said. “We do some metal shows, some funk shows and some hardcore, but we have a focus on accessible indie-rock, garage-punk kind of stuff.”
Worthington also emphasized that Applejam is enthusiastic about supporting student bands.
“One thing we want to advocate is that we want kids to start bands so we can book them,” he said. “That is half of what we are all about; getting kids on campus interested and knowing that they can get out there and play shows. For kids who want to start bands at Tufts, we are 100 percent willing to book them and publicize them.”
By hosting local bands, Balonon-Rosen said, Applejam hopes to cultivate a relationship with the Boston music scene.
“Not only do we help foster the Boston music scene, but instead of being this little citadel on the Hill that doesn’t interact with the rest of the community, we are a part of it,” he said. “It’s going to show people in Boston what’s going on here at Tufts and hopefully get them excited about it. And, equally as important, it will show people at Tufts what’s going on outside of this little bubble and get them excited about what’s happening in Boston.”
Loughlin said that Applejam plans to hold shows frequently this semester.
“We are trying to do a show every two or three weeks,” he said. “We want to have a consistent Applejam show that people are always coming to. To create more of a music scene is always the group’s goal, and we want to always be generating more music on campus.”
Applejam’s next show, on Oct. 4, will feature the band Yuppies from Omaha, Neb., the Tufts band Indian Twin and local band Lost Twin.