Yale’s live music scene usually only consists of the lone courtyard serenader strumming his acoustic guitar. Pat Dewechter, James Pollack and Andy Wagner — the organizers of the Bridge, an “open mic” night previously held in the Saybrook 12 Pack — are trying to change that.
Scene&Heard: How would you describe the live music scene at Yale?
Pat: It’s really off the beaten path. It consists of guys who love to play in front of people but only can find that through roommates or in a courtyard, on cross campus — that sort of thing. It’s made up of people who just grab their acoustic instruments, sit out and play.
S&H: Do you think then that Yale students aren’t interested in live music?
James: I’m always surprised at how few shows Toad’s has that cater to Yale students. Maybe there will be one or two a months, and you know, someone may be really into the Bruce Springsteen cover band but I think to have a great venue like that in the middle of campus that’s not doing shows all the time is really detrimental to the live scene here.
(More after the jump)
Check out other performances at the Winter Arts Festival show, hosted by the Bridge in February, 2007:
Andy: Our band [Catch] threw a concert in the Silliman during freshman year and we filled up the Silliman common room. It was insane! It’s not that students aren’t interested, but we had to grab the bull by its horns and do this concert without any other help.
P: I agree. It’s not a lack of interest but it’s a lack of an organized forum, something consistent. Like everyone knows that SAE has late night on Thursdays, but people don’t know when The Bridge will be having a performance.
J: It’s an experience that I’ve missed a lot since coming here because in high school there were always shows going on. And I don’t know why that’s different, but it’s been difficult to find that here at Yale.
S&H: Can you talk about The Bridge and how you came up with the idea?
P: We were playing together since freshman year in the L Dub Courtyard with our band Catch. We had Michael Waxman as our drummer, Rich Littlehale as other guitar and Alex Weill on violin. So we’ve been playing and screwing around with some things since freshman year. And then Wags [Andy] decided we’d be living in the 12 Pack, and James was working in the Silliman recording studio.
J: That’s how I ran into these guys and we jut started talking about the idea. With all the funding available around campus, the money shouldn’t be an issue; it just needed to get done. And we did that after exchanging some ideas. Our first few shows were really successful.
P: Everyone wants to play but finding space is always the issue. So it was about creating that venue, which was already given to us in the form of the 12 Pack — an awesome coffee house type of venue.
J: Before we were registered as an organization, Pat and I went out to Sam’s Club, fronted some of our own cash and bought a coffee machine, biscotti and more creamer than we’d ever use. We threw the first one and it was incredible. It was packed, everyone enjoying coffee and special coffee and even the performers afterward said how much they wanted us to do it again.
S&H: Was it open mic?
P: We called it open mic but, in the interest of being organized and getting ourselves established, we had to have a plan for the evening. I think that’s the reason why that first show was really well attended — each performer has a built in audience.
J: We weren’t just hearing frat rock.
A: I played a bluegrass song with Dave [Thier] after he hopped up with his banjo.
P: And then there was Ben Lasman, who brought the house down. He performed his own music, called the “Pirate Song,” which is like Stephen Lynch meets Barenaked Ladies.
S&H: Did the feel change at all?
P: The first really felt like a show, but the second time around people came with newspapers and homework. We probably had an eighth of the audience but it really did feel much more like a coffee house.
S&H: How do you plan to continue without the 12 Pack?
J: We’ve been talking to David Kant who is doing Torn Curtain, and he’s been working on installing a sound system in the Calhoun Cabaret. It’s a venue not very well suited to theater, but I think it would be great for live music at Yale. So we’re hoping that’ll turn into a venue for us… but if any of the readers have a space they’d like to offer, we wouldn’t be against taking them up on it.