Listening to music should be an intimate experience, but on a campus as large as Stanford’s, that often proves difficult. Danny Smith ’13 sought to fix this last spring, when he began the weekly music series Acoustic Jukeboxas an independent project in the lounge of Enchanted Broccoli Forest (EBF), where he has lived for the past two years. Ever since, on Mondays at EBF, Jukebox has provided a haven for student musicians desiring a more intimate performance venue.
“Sometimes when you are playing really personal stuff, you don’t want to put yourself out there unless you know it’s going to be heard. I wanted to make a place that was respectful and intimate,” Smith said.
From the first event with only ten attendees, Acoustic Jukebox has grown into a vibrant weekly space. Last week 50 students arrived to share a piece of Jukebox’s warmth, sitting on couches and in armchairs as they listened to performances by earth sciences graduate student Matt Winnick and Chris Tang ’14, who played a collection of originals and covers. The scheduled acoustic set ended with everyone singing along to Tang’s crowd-pleasing version of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.”
Next up were the Stanford Improvisers, who had everyone laughing with original scenes. An open mic closed a laid-back evening of music and mirth, while Claire Torchiana ’13’s art provided a backdrop.
This year, the series is sponsored by the Student Organizing Committee for the Arts (SOCA). Smith is co-director, along with Mayukh Sen ’14, and together they have helped to turn Acoustic Jukebox into a venue featuring visual art as well as student musicians and performers.
“It’s a really awesome, intimate venue. [You] really get to interact with the people there,” said Ally Arrieta ’15, who performed her original music at Acoustic Jukebox both last spring and this fall.
Smith has been recording many of the performances and posting them on SoundCloud. He hopes Acoustic Jukebox will become a space for students to discover independent musicians on campus.
Sen believes that Acoustic Jukebox is a much-needed addition to the Stanford art scene.
“There are so many dormant artistic talents on this campus. Some of them express it through being in dance groups or whatever, but a lot of them don’t. People say, yeah, I’m [majoring in mechanical engineering], but I also like to do this. School doesn’t afford them that kind of space, just by the nature of the quarter system and the hectic academic environment,” Sen said.
Beyond providing a space for artists, the series is about creating an artistic community centered on collaboration. In such a rigorous academic environment, students’ artistic expression often falls by the wayside.
As co-directors of SOCA, Smith and Sen want to help create an artistic community supported by more than just quarterly events. Arts groups often compete for space, time and resources, but “it makes sense to do things together,” Smith said, noting that Acoustic Jukebox and SOCA “aren’t the only people doing this right now. I feel like there’s a bigger movement happening with this collaborative feeling.”
This Monday’s Acoustic Jukebox, 8:30 p.m. to midnight, will feature music from Charlie Glick ’13 and Chris Beachy ’13 and visual art from Susha Roy ’13.