LU Live

Amelia Perron

Once again, LU Live, the Welcome Week extravaganza of campus musical acts, was a storm of both talented freshmen making their mark on their new school and upperclassmen keeping up traditions. Despite strong showings from old campus favorites, most of the recognition went to the younger crowd.
The “Mass Appeal” award went to sophomore duo Left at Atlantic, “Strong Honorable Mentions” went to both sophomore singer James Antony and the freshmen pair Andre Juan and Georgi Petrov, and top prize went to freshman blues singer and slide guitarist Tom Beneke.
LU Live is more than a good show. For the enthusiastic freshmen in the audience, it was a chance to learn about the music scene outside of the conservatory. For the musicians, it was a chance to try out some new songs before the term got under way. For Beneke, it was an unexpected opportunity for a Coffeehouse gig later in the year.
Although Beneke’s win was no surprise to the audience, the freshman from Princeton, Illinois wasn’t sure what to expect. “I know Lawrence has a really big conservatory,” Beneke said, “so I wasn’t sure what kind of competition I’d have. It was a little intimidating.”
Beneke needn’t have worried. His sophisticated slide guitar work and strong blues vocals got mid-song cheers from an audience unused to hearing live blues. Although blues are seldom heard at Lawrence, Beneke has grown up with the genre.
“It’s been my dad a lot of the way,” he says, explaining his influences. “He had a coffeehouse, and some of the people who played there had played with [blues guitarist] Reverend Gary Davis. Those guys were so soulful,” Beneke said. “That’s what I look for in a song-if it’s soulful.”
A prominent characteristic of the show was the variety of styles represented. Runner-up James Antony offered a much different genre with an original song and piano accompaniment. Antony’s well-crafted and melancholy song with thoughtful lyrics, a dynamic piano part, and a quote from “Moonlight Sonata,” was a great showcase for his rich, expressive voice.
Freshmen Andre Juan and Georgi Petrov brought a pop style featuring restless riffs from the two guitars, harmonizing, and smooth lead vocals. Despite a confident stage presence, they were surprised to be in the spotlight. “This doesn’t happen very often,” Juan remarked. “I was sitting in my room, and someone walked in and asked me if I wanted to play this show. I’ve only been here a week!”
Left at Atlantic, huge favorites from LU Live ’05, won a tremendous response from the crowd. Sophomores Harji Bedi and Ted Toussaint delivered the smooth singing, tasteful back-up vocals, catchy songs, and snappy guitar playing that their fans have been going crazy over for the past year. New this year was Kyle Traska on drums and Bedi on electric guitar for a rock sound.
Noticeably absent from the show’s lineup was the campus classic Denes. Temporarily broken up by graduated members, the band was represented at LU Live by Patrick Ehlers, Sue Spang on bass, and Ryan Day on vocals, singing about getting old and removing one’s own appendix.
Denes fiddle player Skyler Silvertrust also made an appearance with his band Skyler Silvertrust and the Trustees, comprised of Ehlers and bass player Chris Wright.
Other performers included the senior guitarist Paul Karner, singing original songs which were alternately comical and introspective, and rapping freshman Rich Jones.