Evolution of Berklee Caf(e) Shows

unedited.

Last 150 Caf Show #1 Last 150 Caf Show #2

Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 10:00pm was definitely (probably) absolutely (well maybe) the last Caf Show in the 150 cafeteria. It’s worth noting that due to construction delays and the small potential that sound checks scheduled for January will not go well, we may live to see a 150 Caf Show again. For that reason, and that we know students are more excited about the opening of the new caf than the closing of the old one, we in the Student Activities Center did not make a big deal out of Saturday.

However I made a point to share this probable milestone, albeit late, with a few students, staff, faculty, and alumni. I also made a point to attend that show myself. So what group will go down in history as the definitely (probably) absolutely (well maybe) last band to rock the 150 caf?! That honor went to Winston’s Maccow’s Boy Band ensemble in a show they entitled Evolution of the Boy Band. *Band members can found here.

While I’m currently Director of Student Activities, my role for my first three years at Berklee included supervising the Caf Shows team. While my primary responsibility was Orientation and I loved doing that, it was the opportunity to work with Caf Shows that sold me on moving from North Caroline to Boston, in the middle of the winter, to work at our amazing College. One of the top reasons I wavered on moving from my previous position, Assistant Director of Orientation and Student Support Services, to Director of Student Activities, was knowing that I would have to leave the role of Caf Shows advisor behind. Since passing the torch to Luke Sutherland, Student Activities Coordinator for Orientation and Organizations, Caf Shows has continued to grow by leaps and bounds.

I say all of that to say that I have a unique perspective with respect to the Caf Shows student organization. I was their advisor when they made the switch from Cafe Shows (with an -e-) to Caf Shows. I was their advisor when they first introduced lighting to their production. I was their advisor when they switched the setup from presenting to the right (as you walk in) in front of the salad bar to presenting on the left (as you walk in) underneath the overhang. And I was their advisor when they presented their first SpringFest on the Prudential Center Plaza on Saturday, April 24, 2010.

Ok since this isn’t about me, let me switch gears and talk about the actual show which I’ll begin by saying was fantastic and so much fun. The show included choreography by student Jared Jenkins Sr, a 7th semester student from the Washington, D.C. area. Jenkins’ choreography matched the style of the performer(s) that made each number famous. For added effect the band created a makeshift backstage area just off stage right using DIY pipe and drape. There they made a few Clark Kent style costume changes including a b-boy urban look for the opening numbers to tailored black suits for the Temptations “My Girl” and a few songs that followed. Let me tell you I know how tight it is back behind the band so I have no idea how the five of them made those costume changes happen but they did.

The performance began with the Beach Boy’s “Surfing USA.” It then hit the Backstreet Boys “I Want it That Way” and Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” along the way. It culminated with my personal fav, Michael Jackson’s “Blame It On the Boogie.” The Boy Band ensemble with their amazing instrumentalists, complete with a phenomenal horn section, did their thing to rock the crowd. And I can attest that the crowd responded enthusiastically.

So many positive things about the Caf Shows program stood out for me on Saturday night but I’ll just share three here:

  • In existence for 26 years, the program makes the best out of the whatever is given to them: despite the whirring of the soda and soft serve ice cream machines, there being no backstage changing area, or really no stage at all, through the years this crew has made it work and well.
  • The student staff on the Caf Shows team take good care: without knowing I was present for the show peering down on them from on high (the balcony), I witnessed from that clandestine vantage the care and attention the student staff take to manage the space and produce the show. At one point a student staff member intervened when one sneaky spectator hopped behind the makeshift barricade of cafeteria tables to grab some soft serve for himself.
  • All of the students are incredibly supportive of each other: dancing, hugging, cheering, laughing, high-fiving and overall showing their appreciation for each others as artists and people.

I’ll conclude by sharing that the title of Saturday’s show, The Evolution of the Boy Band, and the content of the show, “6 decades worth of boy band music,”* was fitting and appropriate for the last Caf Show in the 150 caf. It’s obvious to all of us that Berklee College of Music is evolving: growing and changing more rapidly than any of the four institution’s I’ve previously called home. It’s been 26 great years in the 150 caf and I know we can count on at least that many, but much more, in 160. I’ll see you on January 14, 2014 at 10:00pm in the 160 caf for one of the many next steps in Berklee’s evolution: the first Caf Show in 160.

*Featuring:

Vocals:
JJ Asuming-Tawiah
Rob Ballantine
Matthew Sallee
Stewart Taylor
Nick Villalva

Instrumentals:
Jinho Choi
Diego Diaz
Arnetta Johnson
Jscott Martin
Alex Palazzo
Myrish Spell
Timothy Gabriel Smith
Jason Threm
Austin Wells
Michael Wooten

Choreography:
Jared Jenkins Sr.

Sound Design:
Jason Chambliss

Presented by Rob Ballantine, Professor Winston Maccow, and the Ensemble Department.

*From The Boy Band Ensemble: Last Free Show of the Year (Berklee Caf) on Facebook.

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