Tucked away in the basement of Pomona College’s Walker Hall lies a treasure trove of musical instruments. All of the items one would need to start a band – guitars, bass guitars, amps, microphones, a keyboard, a drum kit – are available for use by members of the Pomona College Musicians’ Coalition.
David Cremins PO ’18 and Isaac Harris PO ’18 restarted the Musicians’ Coalition in 2015 after noting the lack of student bands on campus. They revamped the underutilized Walker practice room, turning it into a low-pressure environment where students can come together and make music.
“[The Musicians’ Coalition] seeks to foster musical engagement and create performance opportunities for student artists on Pomona’s campus and also across the 5Cs,” said Cremins. “We provide a practice space for members of the club to come together, jam, get to know each other, and form bands.”
Since its inception, the official Musicians’ Coalition club has swelled to nearly 80 members, not including other people who use the room or participate in the community. In addition to Cremins and Harris, the coalition is led by Celia Eydeland PO ’18, Cary Friday PO ’20, Libby George PO ’20, Jack Litle PO ’18, Coleman Solis PO ’19, and Olivia Wood PO ’19. Though the coalition is funded solely by ASPC and only Pomona students have swipe access to the practice room, students from the other Claremont Colleges are welcome to join bands and partake in Musicians’ Coalition events.
The Musicians’ Coalition hosts semi-weekly jam sessions in the practice room as well as open mics and concerts. This past Friday the coalition held the sixth Doms Rock in Doms Lounge, showcasing the music of four student bands. Musicians’ Coalition events provide an alternative to the dominant 5C party culture, aiming to emulate the sort of atmosphere one would find at a larger university’s house shows.
“When we were first-years, Pomona’s party scene primarily consisted of these weekly parties, many of which have since been banned, that were very alcohol-fueled and dancing-fueled,” said Cremins. “It’s a qualitatively different experience to go see a live band that might have your friends in it rather than going to see some rather anonymous DJ.”
This school year saw the reboot of Walker Coffee House, an open mic event that aims to provide a casual, inclusive atmosphere with less pressure than a formal concert. “We wanted to have a Motley-like space and to give people who don’t have super concrete bands or anything just the chance to do whatever they want,” said George. Eydeland added that some people prepare pieces while others might decide last minute to perform. So far, there have been two Walker Coffee Houses this semester.
Starting a band can seem daunting, and the coalition seeks to change that. Friday found fellow student musicians with similar tastes simply by going to events and joining the Musicians’ Coalition. She emphasized that even people without much exposure to making music are encouraged to get involved with the coalition.
When asked what the importance was of student bands on campus, Wood said, “It’s very difficult to find clubs or people at Pomona who are willing or able to devote time to things that aren’t going to directly benefit their academic or career goals. The Musicians’ Coalition shows people that it’s good to be engaged in music, it’s good to be creative – not because it’s going to help you get a job, or get into grad school, but because making music is a wonderful thing to do.”
Eydeland added, “If you’re not in a band in college – what are you doing?”