Underground Bands Break Ground at Rutgers–New Brunswick

New Brunswick, known as Hub City for its central location between New York City and Philadelphia, is also a hub of artists and musicians. Fortunately, Rutgers—New Brunswick has a diverse group of students willing to express their energy into music; these same students aspire to form bands, host weekly basement shows, and casual jam sessions. For years, New Brunswick has thrived as a network of basement shows that bring together a demographic of artists and musicians. Due to popular demand among on-campus students for live music, Cait Uriarte, a Resident Assistant (RA) at Jameson Hall on Douglass Campus, organized the event “Jamchella” earlier in the 2018 fall semester to welcome back residents to Rutgers with live music. Through her experience as an event planner, Uriarte has found live music encourages students to attend events. As most RAs know, attendance is crucial: the purpose of hosting events is to promote student involvement on campus. “I was focusing on the music aspect,” she explains, “I know [at] these events people either come for the food or music…local bands are a big thing now [and have been] these past few years. They need to be noticed.” Aside from the fun fall festivities offered at the event, local bands 81 Rich, Sonoa (formally known as Wisteria), Flycatcher, and Boy Blue were featured in a live performance to kick off the semester with fellow students. Uriarte pitched the idea to the Residence Hall Association (RHA), the largest student organization on campus, who helped to plan and sponsor the event.

These local bands returned at the Winter Carnival at the Cook Student Center on Cook Campus, an event organized by Residence Life, to welcome back students at the start of spring semester. Uriarte was eager to plan the live music, bringing back local bands 81 Rich, Sonoa, Flycatcher, and introducing Good Luck Brother to the set.

“They’re doing what they love,” Uriarte said, “I want to spread the word about the local band scene and the basement shows. I think this is the best way to reach out to our demographics. This is the start of it.” Through this event, Uriarte was able to blend her RA position with her interest in the local band community to expose their talents to a larger audience. This has given the bands the opportunity to gain professional exposure and residents get the experience of live music. “The scene in New Brunswick is a strong scene, and it has good music. But it’s very exclusive,” Alex Winshel, lead guitarist of 81 Rich, describes, “it’s very hard to get booked as a band when you don’t have credit.” These events bring together the Rutgers community and New Brunswick music scene to provide a greater bond throughout campus.

Sarah Walley (co-writer and photographer) is a Rutgers University–New Brunswick undergraduate student in the Mason Gross program. She has been a photography and marketing intern with residence life for the past two years. She is a junior and anticipating graduation in May 2020. She is also a member of the student organization Muslim Feminists for the Arts (MFA).

Carlee Scott (co-writer) is a Rutgers University–New Brunswick undergraduate student majoring in communication. She has been a marketing intern in addition to being an Apartment Assistant in the Newell Apartments on Cook Campus with residence life since September. She is a junior and anticipating graduation in May 2020. Her interests include really good coffee and photography – check her out on Instagram @carlee1322