Music Guild: BC’s Home For Live Music

Music Guild


oasting one of the largest email listservs on campus, Music Guild has a reach so endless that it has become an entity unto itself, a subconscious presence felt and heard on a daily basis at Boston College. You’ve undoubtedly seen the name on laptop stickers in your Philosophy of the Person class, in headlines on posters scattered along the walls of O’Neill, or in a Facebook post your random freshman year roommate liked recently. From casual open mics sprinkled throughout campus to the Battle of the Bands competition on the Arts Fest mainstage, Music Guild has worked tirelessly to carry live music to Eagles’ ears since 1981.

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o-presidents Nicole Rodger and Rachel Moon, both MCAS ’19, describe the club as a “music collective” that hosts events for musicians, listeners, and music lovers.

“Essentially it’s a group of like-minded people who work together to foster this music community on campus,” Rodger said. “This is [a club] for people who are loosely creative and want to make music with other people.”

Music Guild hosts a number of events throughout the year, each furthering its purpose of bringing those with musical inclinations together from all corners of campus. The most formidable event the club hosts each year is Battle of the Bands, a two-round competition sequence where BC acts audition and compete for a chance to open at Modstock that year. Rodger and Moon credit the collaboration efforts of the Campus Activities Board (CAB) and the Arts Council for making Battle of the Bands the Arts Fest staple that it is today. Shady Lady, of which Rodger and Moon are both members, won the competition last year after less than a semester of playing together.

Collaboration efforts play a large role in other events the club holds, including the Avid Listeners BC x Music Guild Fall Showcase, which was held on Friday. Jammin’ Toast, which is considered a “sister club” of Music Guild, meets every Saturday and simply gives musicians from all different backgrounds the opportunity to collaborate in a very non-committal, low-stakes setting.

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Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Senior Staff


n the past, Music Guild has also collaborated with Laughing Medusa, BC’s women’s literature and arts journal, to hold larger events at Fuel America, the BC student-frequented coffee shop with somewhat of a cult following. Furthering the club’s recent attempt to expand its reach into the city of Boston, Break the Bubble, a play on the common phrase “BC bubble” that is used to describe BC’s students unwillingness to explore the city of Boston, was started in 2015 by “the father of the Guild,” John Guzzi, former president of Music Guild and BC ’15. Each spring, a lineup of BC acts pack up and spend a day performing outside of Faneuil Hall for tourists passing by and BC students dedicated to the cause.


Music Guild showcases are held each semester on campus and feature a lineup of roughly six student bands. Last year the club mixed it up by moving the event that usually occurs in the Vandy Cabaret Room to the Rat and rebranding the spring showcase as “Rock The Rat.” In order to meet time constraints, there is a vetting process for artists who wish to perform at showcases—Music Guild will generally require a submission prior to the event to ensure the band will deliver a quality performance.

Open mic nights are the most frequent and most open Music Guild events. Held every other Thursday in various locations across campus, the open mics are the most casual form of performance. Each performer gets a 10-minute slot to perform covers or originals to the crowd of mostly Music Guild members and the occasional passer-by. On the weeks Music Guild doesn’t host an open mic, it invites its members to go to Franciscan Children’s Hospital in Brighton to play music with the patients.

Planning these events is no small feat—an extensive amount of planning, marketing, and mobilizing goes into each event. First, the e-board has to craft the lineup for an event, which requires careful balancing between genres and acts. The lineup is then advertised on posters around campus in the weeks leading up to the event.

On the night of a show, Music Guild supplies its members with the equipment they need to perform, including drum sets and amps, and spends a few hours setting up and running soundchecks before an event. Members are also responsible for carrying the equipment from the organization’s practice room in Carney Hall to wherever the event is taking place, which is usually the Vandy Cabaret Room.

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Featured Image by Kaylie Ramirez / Heights Editor


usic Guild hosts a number of different genres at any given show. Although many of the acts perform within an indie rock framework, some of the frequent performers vary their individual styles with folk influences and even elements of R&B: At last year’s Battle of the Bands, rapper Phenom V (Emmanuel Laguerre, BC ’18) was one of the standout finalists, and folk trio Alpacka, headed by Brendan Ronan, MCAS ’19, is an act to look out for this year. Many artists follow the traditional setup of a drummer, one or two guitarists, a bassist, maybe a keyboardist, and a lead singer thrown in there somewhere, but the individuality lies in how the different acts use their instruments to create a distinct sound.

“A big thing is [the music] is all just guitar-driven, which you probably don’t hear in the Billboard [Top 100] stuff,” Moon said. “It’s not a lot of electronic stuff—we go back to the roots basically.”

“There’s lots of ‘Wonderwall,’” Rodger joked. “Actually last open mic—a funny little anecdote—we had two different performers play ‘Free Falling’ by Tom Petty.”

Not all Music Guild performers come bearing a six string that has only seen the likes of classic rock covers and ’90s soft rock riffs—Laguerre’s Battle of the Bands set relied heavily on an electric guitar to create the backbone of his hip-hop beats. Using a similar approach, the up-and-coming R&B duo of Cannon Few, a staff writer for The Heights and MCAS ’20, and Tanner Kellan, MCAS ’20, mesh acoustic riffs with R&B lyrics, whether covering Mac Miller or playing original music.

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usic Guild is somewhat of an anomaly on the arts scene at BC due to its relaxed approach to commitment. Unlike a cappella groups or chamber music ensembles, Music Guild does not hold any mandatory gatherings for its members, and instead invites anyone to come jam at any of its events, whether as a performer or an onlooker. At the moment, the Music Guild e-board is focusing its attention on attracting a wider audience to its events.

“Music isn’t really a part of BC culture at the moment,” Moon said. “Music and art [are] so important, but they’re so sparse here—[we] have got to do anything we can to grow it.”

Music Guild relies heavily on grassroots marketing to pull crowds to its events—word of mouth is one of the main ways music enthusiasts hear about Music Guild happenings. Friends of performers make up a majority of the audience at showcases and open mics alike, creating a very supportive environment for the musicians to express themselves. Ultimately, Music Guild wants to provide a space where its musicians can be heard by as many people as possible. In order to spread awareness about upcoming events, Music Guild has ramped up its social media, posting frequently on its Facebook page.

Moon and Rodger have toyed with the idea of bringing back old programs that engage audiences online. Tiny Dorm Sessions, riffing off NPR’s Tiny Desk series, take digital crowds that are far too large to pack into a Mod common room inside the dorms of Music Guild performers for intimate jam sessions. The most recent session, posted nine months ago, features Katie Kelleher, a member of Shady Lady and Small Talk and BC ’18, singing solo with an acoustic guitar on her couch. The camera cuts to dream catchers and succulents that line the walls of her room, adding a personal touch to the video.

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Featured Image by Sam Zhai / Heights Staff 


usic Guild also plans to forge stronger relationships with listeners around campus by bringing back a program it calls “What You’re Listening To,” an impromptu questioning of people walking around campus with headphones in that was introduced by Tabitha Joseph, BC ’16. The Music Guild members stop random people and ask mobile music listeners to share what they are listening to in that moment, then take a picture of them and post it to the Music Guild Facebook page.

“A lot of people misunderstand the purpose of the guild in the sense that they think, ‘Oh like I don’t play music’ or ‘I don’t really listen to that much music—I can’t be a part of it,’” Rodger said.

That is not to say that high levels of commitment don’t exist among members. Rodger estimates that there are roughly 60 members who come to events consistently and 15 who serve as e-board members for the club.

Many members establish strong connections within the club that create higher levels of commitment organically and result in the formation of bands that work tirelessly to bolster the BC music scene. Currently, Shady Lady, Unit One, and newcomer Merchant dominate the band scene, but dedicated soloists also deck the lineup at the organization’s open mics and events. Stavros Piperis, MCAS ’19, and Mac Porter, MCAS ’21, both competed last year in the Singer Songwriter competition, a Music Guild-sponsored soloist competition that runs adjacent to Battle of the Bands at Arts Fest, and have continued their involvement at Music Guild showcases this year.

Various BC bands have continued playing together after getting their start at Music Guild events, including Juice and Small Talk, both of which are on U.S. tours right now. Juice has taken off since the last of its members graduated in 2016, releasing a four-song EP titled Workin’ on Lovin’ on June 14 and performing on The Today Show as radio host Elvis Duran’s “Artist of the Month.” Small Talk released Aquarium this year—the angsty single that shares the album’s name currently has over 120,000 plays on Spotify.

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Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Senior Staff


hile Music Guild alums continue to find success during life after BC, Rodger and Moon agree that Music Guild’s biggest triumph on campus is its ability to foster lasting relationships between members. Rodger and Moon met during their freshman year by coming to open mics and showcases, and they now see the same thing happening with freshmen in the club, a special full-circle moment for the two seniors and their peers.

“Music is this other way of communicating with somebody,” Rodger said. “Once you play a song or a set with somebody, you are instantly connected to them.”

Featured Image by Kaylie Ramirez / Heights Editor

Kaylie Ramirez

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