Andover Goes Acoustic

“Yay for drums, thank you world!” exclaimed Dan Silva ’08 to cap off his animated and interpretive performance rendition of “A Tribute to the Greatest Song in the World,” the finale of Andover’s first annual Acoustic Fest. Numerous guitarists, singers and other talented musicians created a cozy atmosphere in the usually sweaty and rap-filled Ryley Room last Friday night. Tanner Kaufman ’06 organized the event with the help of Director of Student Activities Cindy Efinger. Eager to showcase the abounding acoustic talent on campus, Kaufman found it easy to bring together this unplugged ensemble. “I knew that there was a lot of hidden acoustic musicians on campus, and I wanted a venue in which to premier that talent and have them play,” he said. While most concerts on campus involve classical and jazz styles of music, Kaufman’s Fest provided the opportunity for Andover students to showcase a different musical demographic. He said, “Tons of people who wanted to play spread the word quickly… I spoke to Ms. Efinger who wanted a student-run concert with student artists. She was a great help.” The venue included performances by Nick Bowen ’06, Pete Smith ’07, Mike Monaco ’06, Dominic DeJoy ’07, James Freeman ’07 and Chris Li ’07. Music veteran Ben Lasman ’06 gave the crowd a fresh outlook on acoustic composition. His fast paced and skilled strumming patterns were a welcome change of pace during the otherwise relaxed mood of the night. Another highlight of the evening was the duo of Dan Silva ’08 and Chris Wade ’08 whose stage presence captivated the crowd’s attention. “I loved their upbeat and personable attitudes on stage. The way they combined the songs “Collide” [by Howie Day] and “Slide” [by the Goo Goo Dolls] was really cool. It sounded really professional,” said Anna Klenkar ’07. Klenkar was not the only one impressed by their talent, as the whole crowd participated in the singing along with their version of “What I Got,” by Sublime. “Wonderwall,” performed by Kaufman, Luke Cahill ’06 and Teddy Curran ’08 was a real crowd pleaser. On the drums, Cahill added new depth to the airy Oasis hit. Kaufman’s instrumental ingenuity became evident when he began to play the cello during his performance of a Radiohead song. Kaufman then collaborated vocally with Amy Prosper ’06 in a boisterous rendition of “Mr. Jones” by the Counting Crows. They sounded a bit off-key, but both were enjoying themselves so much that the crowd did not mind in the least, enjoying the moment. Prosper was the only girl to perform until Virginia Sweeny ’06 took the stage to perform an impromptu piece that she wrote herself, singing and playing the guitar. Dawson Gage ’06 took to the stage, accompanied by Peter Kalmakis ’06, to play “Guitar,” by Cake. Gage’s nimble hands strummed his guitar and his breathy southern voice, while a bit hard to hear above the din of Ryley, delighted those in the front row. The last and also the most popular performance of the night was an animated combination of musical and physical comedy. Cahill brought Instructor in English Craig Thorn, an accomplished drummer, to the stage, to play the African Drum alongside Kalmakis. On vocals once again, Silva accompanied the act with “A Tribute to the Greatest Song in the World” by Tenacious D. The song was an excellent compliment to Silva’s comedic actions and the superb rhythmic accompaniment. Thorn’s hidden musical talent surfaced in a comprehensive drum solo during the song’s interlude. The change of venue in Ryley added a sense of sophistication and diversity to the campus social scene. The brave artists, together with the efforts of Kaufman and the interest of the student body, made for a particularly laid-back and enjoyable Friday night. “I enjoyed the finale. Watching three students perform a Tenacious D song to the accompaniment of an African drum played by an English teacher capped off an excellent evening,” said Yoni Gruskin ’07. Several students did not get the chance to perform due to a lack of space on the venue. Also, throughout the night volume was an issue, as the social chatter endemic to Ryley, acoustic nature of the music, and quiet microphones made many acts difficult to hear. Fortunately, Kaufman hopes to have a second Acoustic Fest in the future, in which perhaps he can correct the sound factor. In addition, he is planning a rock-oriented fest, “Rock Fest,” which will take place on October 28th in Ryley. All those interested in performing should contact Kaufman at