Second annual Circles Jam spreads music in the springtime
April 16 marked the second annual Circle Jam music festival at Ithaca College. On one of the first nice days in what seemed like forever, students, parents and members of the community came together to enjoy a refreshing spread of music, food and outdoor activities.
The event takes inspiration from the ever-so-popular Porchfest!, the phenomenon where musicians from all over the Ithaca area come together to perform small and informal concerts along different street blocks downtown each fall.
According to Maggie Wetter, the Community Director and event coordinator for the Circle Apartments, the college’s similar event was proposed by an unknown resident in a living experience feedback survey. “We don’t even know who the original student was who gave us the idea,” Wetter said.
The festival took place on the main quad of the apartments, but the smell of hamburgers and the sounds of jam bands could be heard all the way down by the baseball fields.
“It really was the perfect spring environment,” commented freshman Maiah Overdorf. “The weather, the music and the food all together created such a chill time.”
A total of 10 bands performed. The groups performing reached across a wide spectrum, both in terms of their chosen genres and in their performance experiences. Many of the acts have been regarded as staples of the Ithaca music scene, while others were performing for the very first time. Some of the acts included the popular Scopes Monkey Trial, rapper Isaiah Horton and the alternative band, Semesters. The setlists catered to a diverse audience. Songs ranged from reggae to Beatles covers.
One of those performers was freshman Jacob Sullivan of Jake and The Nowhere Men, a one-man alternative rock act. Jacob had found the event through a friend posting about it on Facebook and wanted to participate with the intention of getting his music out. “I haven’t ever done a show like this,” Sullivan said. “Before this I’ve only played open mic nights and once on ICTV.”
Though he is no newbie to performing, Sullivan admits that he has limitations in what he can do. “One of the drawbacks of being a one person band is playing live,” he said. Even though he is just one man and his guitar, Sullivan does bring other things to the table. “I tend to up the humor to make up for the lack of a band.”
A solid turnout came in and out throughout the day, credited to the extensive advertising done by the event coordinators. “Lots of planning goes into this,” Wetter said. “We created advertisements throughout campus and on social media.”
These advertisements included Facebook and Twitter posts, posters put up throughout campus, and even spots on the college’s radio station, WICB. The event, though funded by the Office of Residential Life, was almost entirely student-run.
Thanks to the coordinators’ extensive preparation, people were able to enjoy a wide variety of activities, including tie-dye, a s’mores pit and an obstacle course. Some people let their dogs off leash and played frisbee, while others simply brought blankets and sat on the lawn to enjoy the eclecticness in music that our community has to offer. With finals looming on the horizon, the festival was a good way for everyone to take a day out of their busy schedules to just relax.
“I had a ton of fun,” Sullivan said. “Everyone was oblivious to the sunburn they were all getting. … I had fun in the bouncy house, but mostly I enjoyed the music for as long as I could.”
Among the audience, consisting of young and old members of the community, were fans coming out to support their favorite groups, as well as a number of new ones who had been won over by performances.
“Yeah I had heard of a few of these groups before, like Maple Hill, but I hadn’t actually listened to their music that much,” freshman Justin Bertolero said. “I dig them, though.”
Between bands there was a sense of fandom and camaraderie. “I am friends personally with all the members of the The William Shears Campbell Experience,” Sullivan said. “I even sang on a Beatles cover of theirs that has yet to be released.”
Another participating band and the opener for the day was Hanging by a Thread, featuring students Pat Starke and Kyle Banks.“This was our first time [playing an outdoor event],” they said. “[We] thought it went pretty well. It was fun to play outside, especially as people started to show up.”
That kind of friendly and relaxed attitude was exactly what Wetter wanted to be fostered throughout the event. “My favorite part of the event,” she said, “is seeing the community come together for their local artists. We always strive to make the apartments a community and an event like this really highlighted that.”
Ben Kaplan is a freshman journalism major who loves some chill tunes on a Saturday afternoon. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.