Bring back bands!

Jillian Lesinski ’26

Saturday, Sept. 30, St. Michael’s College students could hear live music booming all over campus. Nicki and the Barn Boys, a student band, had set up a stage outside townhouse 321. 

With a large turnout for the concert, students left buzzing about live music on campus in the days following. This felt unusual, because there has not been live music on campus for a long time. 

Back in 2004, St. Michael’s College had live music almost every weekend, said Kerri Leach, director of student activities. According to Leach, when students lived on North Campus, Purtill Hall had a large space in the basement that was used for music and entertainment. The organization became known as Turtle Underground.

One of the most appealing aspects to St. Michael’s College for me has been the strong sense of community, which became evident when a large portion of students gathered to see the live show. 

If live bands were given more occasions to play, it would bring students back together and give them a chance to interact with one another. The rebuilding of Turtle Underground would also give opportunity to the students who are interested in playing music.  

Leach said most weekends there were either open mic nights or bands playing, and students would flock to watch. Shuttles went to North Campus so everyone had the opportunity to see Turtle Underground.

When North Campus closed, Turtle Underground struggled to stay alive, Leach said. It was moved to Eddy’s Lounge, a room on the second floor of Alliot. Live music on campus went from every weekend to solely events like Friday Night Dry or Jib Fest. 

If the school were to bring back live music more frequently it would give students a way to express themselves in music. Having live music on the weekends would give myself and other students activities to be excited about.

 I was thrilled to find out that there was going to be a band performing in the 300’s townhouses at the end of September. Nikki and the Barn Boys played iconic covers and original songs for hours as students surrounded the stage dancing. 

Lauren Twigg ‘24, a resident of the townhouse that hosted the concert, said, “It sounds kind of cheesy, but I feel like it genuinely brought the St. Michael’s community together, and it’s just really fun for everyone.” 

St. Michael’s College is trying to get back to the point where live music is a regular occurrence.

“I’m really hopeful,” Leach said. “This year’s incoming class has a lot of kids playing music. So we are really hopeful that we are building back. A dream we have is to use the basement of Alumni.”

Leach said post COVID-19, the school is trying to build the excitement back up and organize more events for the students. 

“I think the programmers are planning,” Leach said. “They want to collaborate with [Residence] Life and maybe get a few other things other than Friday Night Dry and P-Day, and get, like, a really good DJ and have like an outside dance party type thing. So that would be super fun, and maybe a band or two.” 

 Nikki and the Barn Boys is a band based in Barnstable, Massachusetts, with student members Thomas Bressette ‘27, John Bressette ‘27, and Liam Hempstead ‘27.  They have been playing together for around three years. 

Three of the band members came to St. Michael’s College together with the goal of breaking into the music scene in Burlington. 

The Bressette brothers said that mixing live music and college students often creates an electric crowd, especially when there is a drum set.

John Bressette said he would like to play at St. Michael’s College again. “Absolutely, without a doubt, 100%, if they wanted me to go play bass for free every night I would.”

“Turtle Underground was a vibrant space for students to express themselves, form bands, and try out ideas,” said William Ellis, chair of Fine Arts. “It’d be a shame not for it to continue.” 

I really enjoyed the live music and would love to see it happen again here on campus. St. Michael’s College is the perfect school for students to express themselves and there is no better way than bringing back the opportunity for live music to be played every weekend. 

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