One favorite musical moment at HWS? Impossible! Below, check out some of the many, many favorite musical moments from HWS history, as submitted by alums and friends of the Colleges.
Got your own musical memory to share? Or do you have some awesome HWS music photos (like the photos of Billy Joel and Boz Scaggs below, submitted by Thomas Fuller '75) you'd like to see on the site? E-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll post your thoughts right here along with the others.
I will never forget seeing Bruce Springsteen perform in the Geneva Theater back in 1974-75. It was an incredible experience — one I still reminisce about. We had some great performers on campus back then — Jerry Jeff Walker, Leo Kottke, Billy Joel (to name a few) all performed in Albright Auditorium!
–Amy Diamond Barnes ‘75
Music was a big part of my experience at HWS, I worked at WEOS as Music Director and had an electronic music show throughout my 4 years called Cybertraxx. It remains one of my best experiences at HWS. In '99, I put together a big electronic show during Folkest weekend as an afterhours party. Held in the Barn and called Genesis, it was a great success and an amazing experience. We had so much fun that we did it again in '00! I actually continued with music after I left HWS: professionally, I manage labor rights projects in Central America for an NGO, but I still DJ and have been featured in New York Magazine, Time Out NY and other publications. The opportunities I was given through WEOS were priceless: I learned how to DJ in their studios and Michael Black was great (even if he didn't always like the music personally LOL). Genesis will be in my memory for ever.
–Julia Ponce '00
I vividly remember Billy Joel as the opening act for Livingston Taylor. Billy Joel was an unknown, his first album Piano Man was just about to be released. He blew the crowd away — great performance, great humor. And he definitely upstaged Livingston Taylor, who had a cold and had to ask the audience for Kleenex at one point! I also remember Bruce Springsteen at the Smith Opera House. His Born to Run album hadn’t come out yet, but he performed music from it — most notably Jungleland. I can still hear the orchestrations at the beginning of that piece, playing off the great acoustics of the opera house. During Frank Zappa's show, also at the Smith Opera House, I was seated toward the back of the theater, and the music was SO loud that my ears didn’t function normally for several hours after the show. But we certainly heard Zappa do Yellow Snow!! I also remember folk music at the Coffee House, which was in the basement of one of the dorms on the Hill. Usually students, usually playing acoustic guitar; sometimes good, sometimes not so good. But fun either way. And it's not just live music I remember. Anytime I hear the Grateful Dead or Diana Ross’s Touch Me in the Morning, my sophomore year comes alive. And Jessica by the Allman Brother’s Band takes me back to springtime on the Quad.
–Ann Hermann '76
Hard to believe, but the as-yet unknown musician Bruce Springsteen performed in Geneva! He only had one album out at the time and few of us had heard any of his music until practically the day before the concert. The performance was riveting even more so given that no one knew what to expect. It also appeared to be an important moment for Bruce's career since it seemed to be one of his first overwhelmingly successful concerts (thought that my just be a bit of small-town, revisionist history). Coincidentally or not his acclaim seemed to grow exponentially from that appearance forward. For a while, those of us that witnessed the concert almost felt like Bruce was "our" musician and that we had helped to contribute something to the greater world of Rock' n' Roll.
–Ira Goldschmidt '77
Many happy memories of my 'music-life' at Hobart! I was the first music major to ever graduate from the Colleges, and Lindsey Lafford was my adviser. I was chapel organist for a long time.Every year our class put on a ' variety show, ' and I was the piano player for all four yearly shows. Michael Printz and 'Scoop' Sutton were the kind-of 'directors.' We had a lot of good acts, from singers to dancers to comedians, but the crowd-pleaser was always the male chorus line called The Melancholy Babies: a bunch of guys dressed as gals, most of them wearing work boots, who did high kicks to the tune of Melancholy Baby. It truly was very funny, and the audience went bananas. I remember Joan Riley's talented dancing along with 'Scoop' Sutton. I wish I could remember the names of the gal singers! I can picture them, but the names elude me. They were all terrific. We had a lot of fun doing the shows even though it was a lot of hard work rehearsing. I was also in the Schola Cantorum under Dr. Lafford, and we performed the American premier of Benjamen Britton's The Canterbury Tales. A very exciting evening, indeed.
–Bruce Williams '53
The first real concert my freshman year was The Kinks. What a great way to start my college career! The Holy Modal Rounders played a dance above Gulick, also in fall trimester 1971. All I can recall is just how drunk the band was, the keyboardist was passed out on his piano, surrounded by beer cans. In one of the worst pairings ever, the Concert Committee had solo folk guitarist Leo Kotke warm up for Buddy Miles and his band. Folk vs. Funk. While the audience wasn't in the mood for Leo, he managed to keep them quiet with his virtuoso playing. The real vindication came next year when Leo was invited back (much to his surprise) for a headlining gig in a far better venue than the Geneva Theatre, Bristol Gym. The second worst pairing (and in a reversal of Leo/Buddy ) Billy Joel and his band warmed up for solo act Livingston Taylor. Poor Liv, the audience just wasn't in the mood for a singer songwriter after Billy's energy. Frank Zappa and the Mothers were probably the best concert in my four years at HWS. Their musicianship was extraordinary. And a photo of the concert appeared in his live album which soon followed. While there isn't a photo credit, only the Geneva Theater had radiators on the back wall, which can be seen in the photo. Let's not forget the jazz scene. Chick Corea and Return to Forever and icon Charlie Mingus. Two wonderful concerts. And blues wasn't ignored with Bonnie Raitt and Buddy Guy and Junior Wells and Roy Buchanan. Buddy, Roy and Bonnie are three of the top 100 blues guitarists of all time. And they all played HWS. The Steve Miller Band asked for the James Montgomery Blues Band for the warm up act. The band had transportation problems and didn't make it. So Steve Miller did an extra long concert, including some songs that the band never played live. I must mention that there were concerts at nearby colleges as well: The Cornell Folk Festival was a two day affair with a dozen acts each night. And Sophomore year I saw Genesis perform at University of Rochester. Their first U.S. tour, years before becoming pop superstars was chock full of pyrotechnics, and the tickets were $5.00!
–Zack Chaikin '75
The first HWS concert I remember was a performance by a very down on his luck Jerry Jeff Walker (most famous tune: Mr. Bojangles) in Albright Auditorium for, get this, a quarter! Two bits! Jerry Jeff was playing college campuses, driving from gig to gig in an old Mustang. I remember it fondly, though not in great detail. I remember when The Holy Modal Rounders played in Gulick, and as a Saga worker, I was detailed to hump full kegs of beer up the steps and into the second floor room. I don’t remember how many kegs (lots) but it was definitely a 2 man per keg effort to get them upstairs. Needless to say, getting them out was pretty easy. I remember Little Feat in Bristol - they were LOUD and Lowell George was one hell of a slide guitar player. It wasn't till a few years later I grew to appreciate how great some of his songs are. Spring weekend of 1972 was to be the Byrds one night and Ry Cooder another. I know for a fact that Cooder was cancelled and barely remember the Byrds playing. The Frank Zappa and the Mothers show was very tight, and Frank was in control on guitar and leading the band the whole way. I recollect that George Duke was on piano/keyboards that night. I worked “security” and got in to the Geneva Theater free. Bruce Springsteen's two concerts were also extremely memorable. The Boss was so consequential at HWS that he managed to bump quite a few Allman Bros. tunes off the stereo playing out of the JBLs in the windows at Medbury — though whenever I hear “Statesboro Blues” I form a mental picture of the Quad on the perfect day…Frisbees, lacrosse balls and softballs flying. My silk screened t-shirt from working security at the second Springsteen show was a prized possession, coveted by nearly all. I wore it frequently for about 10 years when the ink was all gone and the fabric as filmy as an item from Victoria’s Secret. It's since been condemned to the rag bag. I remember Bonnie Raitt opening for Buddy Guy and Junior Wells more for what I don’t remember — the pre-show. I’d made the acquaintance of more than half a 6-pack of Colt .45 (I swear I haven’t gone near malt liquor in over 30 years), and when I finished my shift driving the porcelain bus, I made it back in time to shout from the Geneva Theater balcony: “Play ‘Messin’ With The Kid’!” Of course they obliged my request. Buddy was in fine form that night even if it was pretty clear he was “well-medicated.” I especially enjoyed Buddy playing with his handkerchief. Junior seemed in control that night and here we are years later, Junior passed away, in the throes of a drug problem, and Buddy’s cleaned up and making some good records. I recall Bonnie being at the Oaks throwing them back afterwards and she could swear like a trucker. A couple of others: How about Luther Allison playing Bristol, with his 150-foot guitar chord, going up into the bleachers playing while his band was down below? Also, the James Cotton Blues Band played Bristol as a dance/rage — Cotton was a great blues harp master and his guitar player was nobody to sniff at, Matt Murphy, of later Blues Brothers fame. I think the James Cotton event was the last one they ever permitted in Bristol — I recollect Dave Urick or Jerry Schmidt saying something to the effect that the AD was pissed about what happened to the hardwood and no more concerts in the gym. And while I’m at it either Matt Murphy or Luther Allison could blow the doors off Bonnie Raitt as a guitar player any day. Plus Boz Scaggs also did a pretty good show at HWS. Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids did what I thought was a fun show, with some Jerry Lee Lewis Stunts, lots of double entendres with old time rock and roll tunes like Poison Ivy, Duke of Earl, etc. There was some local on-campus talent: There was the LB Dixiecorn Band fronted by Frank, whose last name escapes me. They’d play Sherrill Ballroom or the Union. There was also a jazz trio of Craig Starr on guitar/bass, Dave Nemerov on drums and Dick (another last name that escapes me) who frequently played the Union on Saturday nights. They were pretty damn good. A couple of times Prof. Nick D’Angelo sat in with them on bass. Around '73 or '74 Chris Flory, a guitar player, would sit in. Flory’s still playing professionally and you can find him playing with Duke Robillard on youtube.com. And then who could forget that band that was practically Phi Tau’s very own, Paz Amor y Dinero, featuring Marc Lion on bass, Chris “Moot” Adelmann on guitar, Peter Sachs on piano, a drummer and a percussionist too, I think.
–Mark Sofman '75
I had great music memories at the Colleges, especially seeing 10,000 Maniacs, Tracy Chapman and Midori. I think the tickets for each of those events was $10 or $15, and you were able to charge it at the College Store! And, nothing beats FolkFest!!!!
–Sara Lacombe '89
In my second year at Hobart and William Smith, the Schola Cantorum was invited to do a chorus from the "Messiah" on the Radio City Music Hall stage. (We were a small group on this huge territory; I'm sure we looked like a quartet!). But the highlight of the event was the Radio City folks giving our mentor, Lindsay Lafford, a turn on the "mighty Wurlitzer" organ. He went wild! It was better than James Mason faking it in "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." And because he was (and still is) a gifted musician and organist, the thunderous music was inspirational. We all felt we were listening to a genius at work.
–Roy Dexhemer, '55
My favorite musical memories at HWS are the times I spent in the Colleges Chorale and The Statesmen Singers. I made a lot of good friends through being involved in the Chorale, and we sounded REALLY good. Professor Stan Malinowski, who is now deceased, really demanded perfection of us, and it showed when we performed. I luckily have a tape of one of our concerts from my junior year which was toward the end of the school year in 1991. We performed Handel's "The Messiah" at The Smith Opera House during my sophomore year, combined with the community chorus—that was an experience that cannot be forgotten. To be up on the stage at the Smith, dressed to the nines, standing for well over an hour, singing "The Messiah" was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I'm very proud of my time in the Colleges Chorale, and I'm glad that I was able to partake in such a memorable experience.
–Greg Avery '92
I fondly remember Interhouse Sing at the high school in town when the IAL (Young Anarchists League) released stink bombs in the auditorium, causing mass confusion and a visit by the local police. This happened (I think) in '56 or '57. The IAL participants in this exciting event were Delta Chis led by - if memory serves - Paul Roberts and Ed Lewis.
–Jan Campbell '59
I learned how to play a blues scale from Peter Havilland in super dorm. I learned to appreciate the Blues from my roommate Tom Lawton's great record collection. I learned the joys of spontaneous live band jams in frat parties and bars. We had some great bands of Hobart students. I remember arriving in my parents' car at Sherill Hall in the Fall of 1967 and watching the Lost and Found play in front of Medbury for fun. Manny Bloom (later Eric Bloom of Blue Oyster Cult) was a major showman even then. I remember White Trash with Peter Havilland ripping it up at Sig Phi's basement and everywhere else. Their later group, T Rockett, played Slattery's for our 25th reunion. I still listen to the CD I made of that performance. I remember Hobart band Blind Orange Julius playing Cry Baby Cry and the Night Room Service (another Hobart band) playing with Sha Na NA at Keuka. I remember the first time I heard Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Steve Miller, the Mothers, The Moody Blues and the Youngbloods on record in dorm rooms. For pros I remember we had a lot of trouble with booking bands that got too big to come when the date came around. We still saw some great shows. Procul Harum in the gym, J Geils substituting for Jethro Tull, who were too big for Hobart, the Holy Modal Rounders in Gulick, the Byrds at the Gevena Theatre (Smith Opera House), The Youngbloods at the gym, Richie Havens at the gym. Cactus, Rhinoceros, Leon Russell and the Shelter People at the gym with Claudia Lennear (the original brown sugar) singing backup. BB KING at the gym with local fave Wilmer Alexander and the Dukes ( the animal house prototype, I swear), Iron Butterfly at the gym, The Turtles when the cheap PA went out. Chuck Berry. Going to Rochester to see Buddy Guy. Declining an invite to go to see a new group in Syracuse, Derek and the Dominos, because they hadn't released a record yet and I didn't know that Clapton was in it. Finally the "Kill Quigley" chants (he was the fire marshal) when he threatened to stop shows because of people smoking!
–William Ryder '71, P'07
For at least the four years that I was at Hobart, THE band that visited Geneva several times and that truly dictated the music scene for so many parties and events was Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. No party was complete at Hobart - be it at one of the fraternities [especially Kappa Sigma] or at The Pond or elsewhere - without at least several Southside tunes spinning... "We're Having a Party," "I Don't Want to Go Home," "Talk to Me" and of course, the signature, "The Fever" were part of the party canon... A shout out to all my Hobart & William Smith classmates/schoolmates who remember wailing along with Southside at the top of their lungs "Listen, baby, I know we had to try/To reach up and touch the sky, baby/Whatever happened to you and I/That I don't want to go home?"
–Chris Lorrain '80
Some 42 years later, I still recall vividly the electricity pulsing through the Geneva Roller Skating Rink in anticipation of James Brown's arrival. When he came out on stage, dressed in his colorful refinery, strutting across the stage, with his large band behind him and his bodyguards appearing from the side, the place just erupted with pandemonium. Pretty amazing for a bunch of upper middle class white kids from the north!!
And the ending was just as memorable as the beginning: Several attempts he made to leave the stage, falling down onto his knees, picked up by his body guards, music walling with increased syncopation and then finally he was gone. Silence and then an eruption of joy form the students.
–E. J. White '66
Besides James Brown who stayed late for a special after party at Sig Phi the class of '66 also witnessed the Chiffons freshman year in Saga.
–John Cocroft '66
A couple of performers who played during my years at Hobart and William Smith to add to your list: Pete Seeger, who gave a concert in Albright Auditorium in the fall of 1962, at a time when he was still not allowed to perform on network TV or in a number of other venues because of his alleged political beliefs; and James Brown, who played, if memory serves, at the Spring Weekend 1965 dance in the Geneva Roller Rink outside of town. I had never heard of him, although the real music fans on campus had, and I remember that they were very excited when he was booked to play at the Colleges.
–Ken Birnbaum '65
memories I have as a former HWS student were as a musician and/or fan
of the many student bands that existed during my time at the Colleges.
It was great to read that there still is an active student music scene
and bands like Red Rush Morning and Kaleidescope are keeping that
My personal introduction to HWS was pulling into the Medberry parking
lot and hearing a student band (I am pretty sure it was some of the
members of Gooseberry Jam) rehearsing in Williams Hall as a
prospective student in the Summer of 1991. Needless to say, that
experience ? along with the beautiful campus and great people ? set
HWS apart from the many other colleges I visited that summer.
Although I wasn't able to form a full band my first year, I had a lot
more success sophomore year on and had so many great experiences
performing either on campus (at the Cafe, the Barn, the Quad, the Pub)
and in town (at the Rum Runner, Wylie J's, Cooley's and of course, the
I also enjoyed being a part of the HWS Musician's Collective as well
as getting to know and jamming with so many talented
classmates/musicians like Brad Shelsy '96 (guitar), Matt Spencer '97
(guitar), Alan Sanzenbacher
'97 (drums), Jeremy McKeon '96 (guitar), Matt Haenlin '95 (guitar),
Kevin McCarthy '95 (bass), Joel Thibedou, Chad Corning '94 (drums),
Marc Van Rijssen '94 (percussion), Pete Troxler '94 (sax), Jim
Mastrianni (keys and piano), Judd Frankel '96 (guitar), Chad Ramsey
'96 (trombone), Jon Siener '96 (sax), Will Livingston '96 (drums),
Matt Dodson '97 (drums), Chris Zoubeck '97 (drums), Jessica Salo '98
(vocals), Greg Reilly '99 (guitar), Jesse Redneiss (guitar); not to
mention all guys in the Garden Weazels, Faceplant, C.O. Jones ? the
list goes on and on...
–James Baker '96