CMC Music Scene Emerges From the Cave

In lieu of Claremont McKenna College’s weekly TNC
party, students filed into Marks Hall Basement’s The Cave on Oct. 16 to jam out
to Slash, an Indie-funk band from Monterey. CMC band the Guantanamo Babes
opened for Slash, playing a mix of originals and covers. Approximately 50
students danced, ate free snacks and socialized throughout the evening. 

The Guantanamo Babes is comprised of Dave Saxon CM ’16
on drums, Sam Jackson CM ’16 on bass, Michael Swift CM ’16
on guitar and Sam Blomberg as lead vocalist. Saxon is also a co-manager of the Cave.

“The direction I want to go in is to put the spotlight on the students because there are a lot of great musicians here,” Saxon said. “Even just from the first open mic, there’s so much talent.”

Marks basement was merely a storage area up until
last year, when students and administrators decided to create a space dedicated
to music and art. The collaborative effort to create The Cave consisted of ASCMC, the Arts
Council, the Dean of Students office and the Office of the President, according
to a January 2014 email from Dean Richard Vos.  

While many contributed to The Cave’s conception and
success, Co-Manager Phillip Pennell CM ’16 was instrumental in pushing for the establishment of the space. 

“A lot of people had pushed for this sort of
thing, but I was lucky to work with President Chodosh because he’s very
supportive of the arts and we were listened to,” Pennell said in an e-mail to
TSL.

In the wake of an article Pennell wrote about the basement for CMC’s online student newspaper, The Forum, the administrative process was expedited and allowed The Cave to hold its first open mic performance in spring
2014. Although many students enjoyed the small events, the space was not widely
known around campus. Managers are now making a conscious effort to increase
both scope and appreciation of the space. Such attempts have not gone unnoticed
by students. 

“Last year, there were a few events
that were well attended but not as well recognized around campus,” said
Christus Ahmanson CM ’16, who attended Thursday’s concert. “I’m really
excited to see how enthusiastic everyone is about it this year. I hope the
students will really take advantage of this place. It’s so spacious, and it’s
got a great set-up.”

Managers hope that The Cave will
bring more opportunities for student bands and outside groups to perform. Christian Rafla CM ’18 expressed enthusiasm about a growing music
scene on Claremont McKenna’s campus. A pianist, Rafla enjoys music as a
creative outlet but said that he did not yet know much about The Cave. 

Fortunately, there are many events
and plans in the works that will promote CMC’s art culture and expand to the
greater student body. Saxon described a few ideas in the planning stages to
improve the Cave’s musical scene. 

Within the next year, Director of
Student Activities Kari Rood will assist in moving the management toward a
model similar to that of the Claremont McKenna College Bike Shop. This transition would make The Cave a subset of DOS, and student workers would be paid to organize and
maintain the event space. For now, the goal is to form a leadership
committee to plan open mics and work the equipment during events. 

Despite the importance of the Arts Council and ASCMC in The Cave’s conception, managers hope to make the space
more like The Party Zone, one of CMC’s new Thursday Night Club venues. In this sense, the basement would available by reservation for different groups and would not be tied
to any particular club. 

Another idea is to put on a small-scale music festival,
similar to Pitzer College’s Kohoutek Music and Arts Festival. Rather than a
two-day event featuring outside bands like Kohoutek, however, the proposed festival would last
only six or eight hours and feature solely student musicians. 

Until these changes and expansions
are put into motion, The Cave will continue to be used as a practice room, a
performance space and a venue for any other artistic endeavors in which students are
interested. The previous open mic turnout was a resounding success, and the
cluster of students jam-packed into Marks Basement signals good things to
come. 

The Cave’s next open mic event is
scheduled for Friday, Oct. 24, with a poetry and spoken word performance at 7
p.m. and music beginning at 8:30 p.m.

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