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Student bands celebrate spring with masked, distanced and outdoor concerts

April 30, 2021

Although COVID-19 has prevented Bowdoin from holding Ivies weekend, several student bands have been working to ensure that students will be able to attend distanced, outdoor concerts as the semester comes to a close.

The College’s outdoor concert series began on Saturday with a performance by student band Lady and the Tramps on the steps of Baxter House. Just three days prior, members of the band had pitched the idea of holding an outdoor concert to Baxter House, and House residents reached out to the Bowdoin Music Collective (BMC) to ask for equipment. Claire Reboussin ’21, a BMC leader, was enthusiastic about the opportunity to plan a live music event for the first time in more than a year.

“I was honestly just really happy to be moving equipment again and setting up sound,” Rouboussin said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “The weather was perfect, the band was really great [and] everyone was happy to be hanging out on the grass and listening to music.”

Lady and the Tramps was also eager to share its music with the rest of the community. According to pianist Andrew Treat ’22, the group formed at the beginning of the semester as a creative outlet during a time when both music-making and socializing have been harder than ever.

“Most of the band is made up of podmates,” Treat said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “We all just started playing music together because we were looking for people to play music with.”

Since Treat and his bandmates had only played in ensembles and other music groups before the pandemic, the experience of finally being able to perform for an audience was especially valuable.

“I know for a lot of us, it was our first time playing for an audience in such a long time,” Treat said. “It’s one of those things where you think during quarantine that this will never happen again, and then all of a sudden you’re playing music for people and it’s awesome.”

While Lady and the Tramps performed together for the first time last Saturday, the student-run band TBD will be reuniting after a nearly two-year hiatus. The group’s performance will take place on the main quad all afternoon on Saturday, and will feature numerous other bands as well. TBD’s vocalist Chris Ritter ’21 joined the group as a first year, but he has not been able to practice with the rest of its members since the fall of 2019.

“None of us have really played music in the last year, obviously, but we haven’t been playing music together since 2019, which is crazy,” Ritter said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.

As TBD has been preparing to perform once again, due to safety guidelines surrounding the pandemic, members have had difficulty scheduling and staging rehearsals. Rouboussin, who is also TBD’s bassist, found herself challenged by the responsibility of not only organizing Saturday’s performance but also coordinating her group’s rehearsal schedule.“

Just trying to find a time when the space is available and people can practice has been a real challenge,” Rouboussin said. “I think Bowdoin has really strict COVID[-19] guidelines, and that’s great—it’s keeping everyone safe, and that’s a good thing—but it also slows down the process of scheduling events.”

While a Student Activities committee initially only granted TBD permission to rehearse without vocalists and woodwind instruments, the committee eventually permitted masked vocalists to join rehearsals, which made Ritter far more optimistic about the  band’s upcoming performance.

“All of a sudden we got clearance to sing,” Ritter said. “So last Thursday was really the day when we were like, ‘We’re actually going to be able to do this concert,’ because up until then, we were not really sure.”

However, since TBD’s brass players could not rehearse with their bandmates, they will perform with the rest of the group for the first time on Saturday.

TBD’s trombonist, Lowell Ruck ’21, is confident that the performance will still go well for his band.

“The essential members of the band, like the vocalists and rhythm sections, are all rehearsing … but the trumpet player and I are going to have to wing things,” Ruck said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “That’s a bit of a challenge, but I think we’ll pull [it] together.”

Despite the obstacles that Rouboussin has encountered while planning this coming Saturday’s performance, she is grateful that her group will have the opportunity to perform together after a long and turbulent spring semester.

“There is a small chance that this will actually be the last time my band performs, which is kind of sad, but also very exciting,” Rouboussin said, “it’s going to be a lot of fun.”


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