New Brunswick Music Scene Archive One-Year Anniversary Symposium

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The New Brunswick Music Scene Archive will mark its one-year anniversary with a panel discussion and exhibit from 6 to 8 p.m. on October 27, 2016 at Alexander Library.

Panelists include Brandon Stosuy, editor in chief of Kickstarter’s The Creative Independent and former editor at Pitchfork; Amy Saville, vocalist and

guitarist of New Brunswick-based Prosolar Mechanics and author of the Hub City Romance series; Kelli Kalikas, studio co-owner and show promoter at In the West recording studio in New Brunswick; and John Terry, former New Brunswick basement show promoter, record label owner, and musician. The event is free and open to the public.

Search all across the country and you are unlikely to find many research collections like the New Brunswick Music Scene Archive. In fact, only a handful of other academic institutions nationwide have begun to preserve in their archives the musical history of their local communities. But a collection such as this seems perfectly fitted to the Hub City, where acts such as Screaming Females and the Gaslight Anthem got their starts in underground venues before moving on to national and international stages.

Since its inaugural symposium last October, the archive has been enthusiastically received by those with connections to the New Brunswick music scene.

“There was a groundswell of interest,” said Christie Lutz, the archive’s co-founder and New Jersey regional studies librarian for Special Collections and University Archives. “We received many, many emails from people who wanted to donate material or share their stories from when they were involved with music in New Brunswick.”

Sometimes a flyer would arrive in the mail without warning or someone would drop by the library unannounced with a handful of records to donate. But many items—patches from the jacket of Ronen Kauffman, author of New Brunswick, New Jersey, Goodbye; or a series of elaborate zine mailers published by the Court Tavern in its heyday—came as a surprise for other reasons.

“These were unexpected because the nature of the materials makes them unlikely to be found in other archives or simply because we had no idea they even existed,” noted Frank Bridges, a doctoral student and part-time lecturer at Rutgers’ School of Communication and Information, who partnered with Lutz to establish the archive. “Ultimately, they help paint a fuller picture of a vibrant era in the city’s history.”

Lutz hopes that the anniversary symposium will build on the momentum the archive has enjoyed since its launch and deepen the conversation around both the collection and the scene.

“This year’s panelists represent very different perspectives than last year’s. Amy can speak to being a woman in a male-dominated scene in the 90s and to writing fiction about New Brunswick. Brandon has done a host of things from running a label to promoting bands, but his roots trace back to his days at Rutgers, DJing at WRSU and editing Inside Beat. And Kelli can speak about running a studio in the city—who comes in to record? How is she perceived as a woman doing this job?”

And while the process of formally accessioning, arranging, and describing the materials is a long one, Lutz already sees a number of opportunities for research and further programming.  She imagines a digital humanities project that maps points of interest across the city, examinations of women and people of color in the scene, or collaborations with other special collections in the state to tell the story of New Jersey music more broadly.

“I’m excited to see what the future has in store,” she said.

 

New Brunswick Music Scene Archive Featured on NJTV

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By Christie Lutz

We’re thrilled to have appeared on NJTV News on Friday, February 12th. View the segment or read the transcript here.

The piece features some recent additions to the New Brunswick Music Scene Archive (NBMSA) and a bit of documentary footage of the Court Tavern by friend of the NBMSA Fritch Clark.  The segment was filmed here in Special Collections and University Archives’ preservation lab and processing room–where the magic happens.

Greetings from New Brunswick, New Jersey to the Boss on His Birthday

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"The Scarlet Letter," v. 103, 1977. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University, 1977.
All images: The Scarlet Letter, v. 103, 1977. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University, 1977.

By Christie Lutz

We’re the New Jersey Collection, so it would be unthinkable not to  acknowledge Bruce Springsteen’s 66th birthday today. We’re featuring  a selection of images from his October 12, 1976 Rutgers show at The Barn, aka the College Avenue Gym, where Springsteen and the E Street Band played to a crowd of nearly 3000.

"The Scarlet Letter," v. 103, 1977. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University, 1977.

"The Scarlet Letter," v. 103, 1977. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University, 1977.

The Sinclair NJ Collection holds dozens of published materials on Springsteen including biographies, pictorials, and readings of his music and lyrics. We also have works of fiction inspired by Springsteen songs,  a number of guides to the musical history of Asbury Park and Springsteen’s Jersey Shore stomping grounds, and the fan magazine Backstreet. Most recently, we added Springsteen’s picture book for children, Outlaw Pete.

Interested in knowing where to find Greasy Lake, pondering a comparative study of Springsteen and Walker Percy, or contemplating a photo of Springsteen pulled over by a Holmdel Township, NJ police officer? Below are some curator’s picks of books separate from the major biographies by Dave Marsh and Peter Ames Carlin and Springsteen’s own Songs.  All of the Sinclair NJ Collection’s Bruce Springsteen holdings can be found with a quick search of the Rutgers University Library catalog.

Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey: A Look at the Local Scene by Chuck Yopp, 1983.

Greetings from E Street: The Story of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band by Robert Santelli, 2006.

A Place to Stand : A Guide to Bruce Springsteen’s Sense of Place by Bob Crane, 1997.

Reading the Boss: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Works of Bruce Springsteen edited by Roxane Hard and Irwin Howard Streight, 2010.

Springsteen: Saint in the City: 1949-1974 by Craig Statham, 2013.

Streets of Fire : Bruce Springsteen in Photographs and Lyrics, 1977-1979 by Eric Meola, 2012.