Berklee today

OCT 2015

Berklee today is the official alumni publication of Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a forum for contemporary music and musicians.

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Fall 2015 25 A Shot on the Big Stage It's 10:00ish on a late July morning and it's already hot when professor Jeff Dorenfeld of Berklee's Music Business/ Management Department picks me up. We're headed to Chicago, to Lollapalooza. It will get hotter. By the end of Friday, the frst day of the massive three-day music festival held in Chicago's Grant Park, I will have walked 22 miles in my new Vans. That I did not expect. Waiting for us at the airport are Kyle Thornton & The Company, a standout Berklee band from the most recent Heavy Rotation Records (HHR) release, Dorm Sessions X. Their song "Lemonade" is the perfect infectious summer tune blending great songwriting and musicianship from the group's eight members. Dorenfeld, and I talk about how Lollapalooza has grown so signifcantly while label signing bonuses, record deals, and corresponding sales have moved in the opposite direction leaving emerging and established artists alike searching for a new monetization model. This is something that Dorenfeld and his Berklee cohort have been thinking about a lot lately. With the support of some very generous donors, the college has established the Berklee Popular Music Institute (BPMi). Founded and led by Dorenfeld, the institute uses real-world experiential learning to prepare students for this evolving landscape. BPMi is essentially built around an annual cycle that begins by putting artists together with music business students and booking holds on performance slots at major festivals. Between the pairings and the festival dates the fol- lowing summer, each student puts into practice what they've been learning in class, from contracts and the craft of perfor- mance to website/digital presence and recording. We arrive at the airport and are greeted by Berklee stu- dent Meagan Fair. As she hands me my boarding pass, it's apparent that she has it under control. She's calm, com- posed, and professional. Fellow students Grayson Kirtland and Simone Torres join us as Dorenfeld covers some details with Fair. I've come to expect a lot from Berklee students and Kirtland and Torres are great examples of why the proverbial bar is set so high. Torres, a dual major (Music Production and Engineering and Music Business/Management) brought a sol- dering iron. I'm impressed. The band is already at the gate. Seatbacks and tray tables in upright position… My experience with these types of gigs is that something always goes wrong. What matters is how you react to the in- evitable. Fair, Kirtland, Torres, and I head to the Kidzapalooza stage the night before to set up a "silent concert" for the fes- tival's youngest music fans. The idea of a silent concert is that all of the instruments laid out for the kids are fed into several headphone amplifers. Parents can don headphones to listen, but the performance is otherwise silent. At the moment, though, the entire thing is silent: no bass, no drums, no clear solution in sight. We take a collective deep breath and Torres methodically evaluates the formidable assortment of cables and electronics. She's undaunted and confdent. She tested everything twice before she left Boston and soon has the issue managed—no need for the soldering iron. I admit, part of me was hoping we'd need it. Show Orientation Friday arrives and it's clear that it's going to be very hot. I've seen countless Berklee bands in my 11 years at the college. Most often these performances take place on short, dark stages. Lolla—no surprise—is different. The festival has artist catering, no-nonsense security, multiple levels of access, and very high and specifc expectations. Arriving late is not an op- tion, nor is going over your time allotment. Of equal if not greater importance are the performance and stage presence differences. What works in a small night- club setting does not on a huge outdoor stage under the blazing midday sun. It's this that I'm most interested in seeing and what Dorenfeld has been teaching about in his classes. How do bands manage this transition from a neighborhood haunt to a festival stage? How does a band excel at playing to the last row of fans when they can't even see them? The band takes the stage as one cohesive unit. Their look is matching but not overdone. It becomes clear that they're not here to procrastinate. There's no tuning, discussion or Performances at the Lollapalooza and Osheaga festivals give fedgling Berklee groups a chance to soar. By Mike Magee and Bryan Parys Kyle Thornton (left) and Henry Young of Kyle Thornton & The Company onstage at Lollapalooza Cordelia & The Buffalo at the Osheaga Festival. From the left: Dag Hanken '15, Jeff Apruzzese (Berklee staff), Yusuke Sato '15, Diego Diaz '15, Cordelia Vizcaino '16, Rodrigo Gramitto '17, and Dan McCallum '15. Audrey Harrer Jeannie Greely

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