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Musicians step into the lamplight

Every Brandeis student recognizes “The Light of Reason” sculpture. It serves as a landmark on campus, and the gathering place for our first welcome as Brandeisians, but after that it often gets overlooked by much of the student body. Fritz Oleshansky ’16, coordinator of SCRAM (the Student Committee for the Rose Art Museum), hopes to change that.

On Sunday, Sept. 20 SCRAM, in partnership with WBRS, Brandeis TV and Student Production Services put on the second show in their “Lamplight Sessions” concert series. The (tentatively) bi-monthly series of shows will double as a music video series on Youtube, made possible by the collaboration with BTV and WBRS.

In an exclusive interview with The Brandeis Hoot, Oleshansky said that he hopes the concert series will get students more comfortable with the space, and make it “a more social space” and “a more relevant gathering place for Brandeis students.” According to Oleshansky, despite the “beautiful atmosphere … students are a little intimidated or a little reluctant to go and hang” at “The Light of Reason.” The obvious solution for Oleshansky was to put on a concert.

During Fall Fest, SCRAM hosts the “SCRAM Jam,” an annual party featuring live music at the Rose. The “Lamplight Sessions” will be yet another music-centered addition to the SCRAM events calendar. Even though live music is nothing new to SCRAM, the “Lamplight Sessions” definitely bring something new to the table.

The collaborative nature of the concert series is what makes it stand out from other SCRAM events. Oleshansky calls the “Lamplight Sessions” “an exciting project that bring all these different clubs together” to put on a show. With BTV and WBRS working on the digital production side of things, SPS handles the live sound, and according to Fritz, “does a huge part in making the live shows run smoothly.” And besides an unexpected bit of cold, the show on Sunday could not have run smoother.

It’s easy to see why Oleshansky picked “The Light of Reason” as the location for this project. The concert began just as the sun was setting, and the sunlight gave way to the glow of the lamplights, which enveloped the entire scene with an atmospheric charm. The defining quality of the event was the intimate feel the space provided, and there is definitely something unique about the way the scenery captured the performance.

Sunday’s lineup kicked off with Brandeis students Remy Pontes ’17 and Makalani Mack ’16, who played an interesting combination of original songs and covers. This was Remy’s debut performance at Brandeis, and, according to him, the first time he had played in front of an audience. A talented guitarist and singer, Pontes’ sound mixed effortlessly with Mack’s and their combined harmonies were gorgeous. They finished their performance with a cover of Post Malone’s “White Iverson,” during which the crowd joined in singing, and the performers’ friends in the audience held up signs with their names to show their support.

The headliners of the evening were Scott James and Anna Beckerman, both student artists from New York University. James is quickly becoming a well-known player and performer, and has the chops to show for it. His style is superbly reminiscent of Jeff Buckley, employing similar high vibrato vocals and deftly finger-picked guitar. It is no surprise that on his artist page he lists Buckley as one of his influences. The sound was completed by Beckerman’s high harmonies which fit perfectly with James’ voice and style. The pair played several tracks from James’s E.P. “Destinesia,” a number of covers, and his new single, “River.”

Oleshansky hopes to bring in artists like James with an established following so the project can “start accruing some momentum.” He also wants to continue featuring Brandeis musicians like Pontes and Mack, to give musicians on campus a forum to express their art. He notes that there are so many musical artists at Brandeis who have no outlet to perform, and since he extended the invitation to Brandeisian players, he has been overwhelmed with the response of students who want to be a part of the project. “That’s one of the things we’re so excited about,” he says, “bringing students into the lamplight.”

Oleshansky has high hopes for the concert series, saying that the “Lamplight Sessions” have “the potential to become something kids know Brandeis by.” His ideal is for it to become a staple of the community and improve Brandeis as a whole, even attracting more types of students to the school. Oleshansky is motivated and excited to continue bringing the “Lamplight Sessions” to audiences at “The Light of Reason” and he felt his enthusiasm reciprocated in the audience, saying, “I think that people at the show, got an idea of what this can become.”

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