After a year or two of playing in student bands, Musicians Danny Little ’22 and Nick Cattaneo ’21 came into this year with a vision. They wanted to establish a new model that would allow musicians to rotate in and out of bands based on availability, while ensuring that a core group remains.
“It would be a dynamic thing, always changing. It wouldn’t be exclusive,” said Little.
Little, who plays the saxophone, and Cattaneo, a drummer, formed the core of the group known—after some deliberation—as The Bus. They have had a no-holds-barred start to the year, headlining at Common Good Day and Greenstock and rehearsing for their first College House show at Burnett House tonight.
Because of its dynamic structure, the group can scale down for more low-key gigs and balloon up for fun, high-energy events like House parties. At Burnett tonight, The Bus will number eight members, bringing together musicians from all corners of campus for an hour-long setlist of favorites.
“[The name] works, because people can get on The Bus. Other people can come and play with us,” said Little.
Whether they’re the center of attention at a party or mellow background music for an official College event, student groups like The Bus offer a unique space for musicians to explore their craft.
“It’s a very fun and creative way to engage in music that isn’t as stressful,” said Little. “Comparing it to being in a jazz combo—that’s also a very good time, but being able to self-direct is a pretty significant change.”
The autonomy to choose their own music results in setlists that can vary widely to reflect the interests of the musicians involved. For The Bus, song choice is an intentional process, as Little and Cattaneo balance their love of funk with the singers’ needs while factoring in appropriateness to the atmosphere and audience.
“A lot of the consideration is: Do people know it? Does it match the energy of the situation? Like for the [College] House parties, you don’t really want ballads,” said Little.
Like any student group, The Bus faces challenges with finding time to rehearse, especially in its eight-member expanded form. But members are committed enough to make it happen.
Ideally, members of The Bus arrive to rehearsals knowing the songs on the set list already. From there, the hour-and-a-half rehearsal block is all about refining. Musicians discuss the choices in the recording, where to depart from them or follow their lead and how to mold the music to the vibe of their upcoming gig.
Despite challenges and unpredictability, making music is, for both The Bus’ permanent core and short-term members, just plain fun.
In the future, The Bus looks to FallFest and a repeat of last year’s fall concert at Baxter House that will feature outdoor music from many student bands.
Little hopes for the band to perform as much as possible in hopes of cultivating a reputation and becoming a well-known option for live music on campus.
“We want to have a sound,” he said.
The Bus will perform at Burnett House tonight at 10:30 p.m..