by Carlos Hillocks
There is a tendency for musicians within the same space to come together to participate in activities and conversations revolving around everything that is music. For bassist Jorge Portero and his three apartment mates at Purchase College, the case was no different. With all four of them being musicians living together, it was organic for them to assemble to jam out in their apartment in the Neu, eventually forming their own band DCAL. Little did they know, their ordinary jam ended up developing into the popular live showcase event known as Soul Station.
Started in October 2017, Soul Station is an apartment showcase that welcomed bands on campus to perform for their campus peers. The lineups are curated by Portero, who said it’s important to give as many musicians as possible a chance to share their music.
The Stood at Purchase has typically been known as a great space for student bands to exhibit their art, but it does not always provide the necessary platform for musicians to exhibit their music. Some of these musicians suffer from lack of an audience at The Stood, due to schedule conflicts, which does not allow for their fan base to grow. Fortunately, over the past few years, there has been a trend of live band showcases occurring within the apartments on campus. These showcases are focused on the inclusion and growth for the musicians at Purchase. The increase of popularity for these showcases has provided more space and time for bands to receive more recognition.
Not only are musicians on campus gaining recognition, but they are becoming part of a community on campus. There are wishes among these students that the community of musicians and music lovers to grow still. However, with several senior students hosting the showcases getting ready to graduate soon, there has been a shared sense of concern for the continuation of these intimate shows.
“It’s great for people to come together and have an intimate and fun experience with music,” Portero said with an uneasy sigh, “and really I’m hoping that someone will carry on the tradition of hosting shows in the apartments after I graduate.”
Before one walks into Portero’s apartment, there is a stonewall across from the door with “Soul Station” written in chalk on it. There’s multiple colorful writings and drawings, surrounding the name. The wall serves as a landmark. Inside the apartment during the nights of Soul Station, the high edges of the walls in the common area are lined with color changing LED lights. Complemented by the lights are neon psychedelic images hung around the room. According to Portero, he wanted a “funky, nightlife feeling.”
The floor of the common space is also crowded with furniture and instruments. Between the drum kit, amps, sofa and dining table, there is limited space to contain so many students. “The apartment gets packed easily, and gets really hot, really quickly,” said Nick Granelle, a frequent attendee of the show. “People ended up hanging outside, waiting around for the room to clear so they can go in and see another band.”
Fortunately, Portero’s apartment is on the ground level. He does not have to worry about the floor caving from having too many students in the apartment from the second floor, as so happened on Friday, Oct. 26, in the Olde. “Kidding me? The way my shows are, the apartment would not last more than 10 minutes if I lived on the second floor,” said Portero. “We’ll all be piled on the bottom floor with amps and chairs on top of us.”
Still, in response to the size issue, along with the guaranteed success of attendees, Portero decided to expand his showcase by creating the Good Vibes Festival.
On Friday, Nov. 9, Portero and his band DCAL, hosted the event as a larger spin-off event from the Soul Station shows. The event was held in room 0078 in the Music Building. It featured a long line-up of musicians from Purchase, as well as off-campus artists from New York, Connecticut, and Philadelphia.
The space was able to hold a large body of students. The show was a success due to Portero’s popularity and ability to market on social media.
According to Professor Jonathan Jetter, a lecturer in music, it’s beneficial for students on campus to find their own communities.
“I, obviously, have not attended one of these shows [Soul Station] since I’m not a student trying to stay at Purchase late on weekends, but as far as I’m concerned,” said Professor Jetter, “it’s a valuable thing that students are creating their own music communities away from the Stood. They learn how to create their own original space from the scrap.”
There have been opportunities for numerous Purchase students to perform at Soul Station or at the Good Vibes Festival. These artists received more opportunities to connect with the students on campus.
Since Soul Station started, there has been notable performances by students, such as Jake Kerapoly, Leah Woods, Demetrius McCray, and so on.
Rapper Demetrius McCray, a Philosophy Major student that graduated in May 2018, who goes by the stage name DomCo, was able to perform at Soul Station last year. He said he was impressed by the various students Portero was able to get to attend Soul Station.
McCray has also expressed concern about what will happen for the live shows after Portero graduates. “I just don’t think it’ll ever be as cohesive and positive as the shows he put on,” he said. “Talk about all inclusive. He literally put acoustic, rap, and punk in the same exact bill.”
Granelle is a musician who also works as a sound technician for events at The Stood, or in the Music Building. He has seen first-hand the cycle of musicians who get to perform at the Stood and at Soul Station.
He explains that there has been multiple times when an artist or band gets to perform at the Stood. He confidently said that every musician gets a chance to perform at the Stood, but not all of them get a great amount of recognition.
“I’ve seen some students get 10 friends to come to their show, and you can tell the artist was kind of disappointed,” said Granelle. “With Soul Station, everyone gets a chance because the fans of one band gets to see another band on campus, just by being there at the same time. Everyone connects and that’s a win.”
Being a junior, Granelle also hopes that there will be more shows to occur in the apartments after Portero graduates. He wishes to be able to see other bands and make new musician friends. He even wishes to perform at one of the shows with his newly formed band before the end of this upcoming Spring semester.
Although still unsure of what the future of the live band shows in the apartments will be, he explains that he has confidence that “one of the creative kids will ” at Purchase will start their own series of events. “Someone will grab the torch,” Portero said.
“I’m not saying anyone has to take over and carry on the Soul Station shows,” he said, “but I would love if someone can do something like it for the sake of music and the artist on campus. It might not happen right after I leave, but I definitely believe it will happen.