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The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Bandstand welcomes back two beloved Loyola figures


Intium Week this year included such staples as the Crab Feast and the t-shirt sales on the quad, but this year ended with a concert on the quad. The Bandstand aimed to bring together the Loyola community to enjoy a free barbecue and watch old Loyola favorites, former professor of music, Kevin Gift, Maria Dontas, class of 2012 and Mullet, the ‘80s cover band from homecoming 2012. While the event was nowhere near as well attended as the spring quad concert, Loyolapalooza, it has great potential to become a Loyola fall semester highlight.

Kevin Gift, former Loyola music professor, kicked off the event with a series of original pieces.  Many people on campus are familiar with Gift either in his role as a professor or just recognize him from being a member of the Loyola community. This year, he is not teaching at Loyola to focus on his music career. With four albums coming out on January 1 and all of them about halfway done, he does not have a minute to waste, but surprisingly he does not seem overwhelmed. “It’s really rewarding. I have never worked on that much music at one time,” says Gift.

He performs as Wendel Patrick—the name chosen to honor his twin-brother who passed away during his first week of life. On any of his albums, he has recorded all the instruments separately and then blended them electronically. But when he performs live, he brings a group of talented musicians to back him up. Friday’s performance was no exception. He played the keyboard while others played the bass, the guitar and the drums. His hip-hop music mixed with his classically trained roots makes for an enjoyable performance. It was the perfect choice of performer to begin the event because his music does not overwhelm a person. Instead, it sneaks up on you forcing you to listen closer to the complicated nature of the music. After his set, I thought about how Gift writes all the music and performs all the instruments on his albums. I am beyond impressed by his level of talent and dedication.

Gift has four albums coming out this New Year’s Day, one album of classical piano as Kevin Gift and three albums as Wendel Patrick. One album is a tribute to J Dilla, late hip hop artist. Travel “was written when I was on tour, each track is the name of a European city.” His final album, Passage sounds more like an instrumental roots album featuring guitar, drums and bass.

Gift reflected on being back at Loyola as a performer and guest not a faculty member. “This is the first time I have actually been on campus since school started and I guess it’s a little bit different. Normally by this point, I have walked around the campus a lot and even the freshman, there would be faces that I recognize. It’s great to be able to come back. I love it here. I will always love it here. I’m blessed to be back.”

Next up to perform was 2012 graduate, Maria Dontas. She also commented on how it felt to be back. “I was here last year for Bull & Oyster but today I came to campus by myself. I sat on a bench alone and it was a little bit weird to be back here. But also really nice because then I saw like five professors and they all said hello and remembered me. That was nice. It was weird in that my friends weren’t here but it was really cool in that I still had a connection.”

Dontas shared how much she loved being back at Loyola. “I love coming back. I love Loyola. So much of my music career, if you can call it that, happened here. I was playing with John Herbster, we were Beauty and the Greek here on campus. We did Relay Shows. I teamed up with Palace at 4am and we played Loyolapalooza with them[as 2012 Battle of the bands winners]. How could you turn it down? I love playing here and I would play here forever.”

Dontas spent four months after graduation working 24-7 in New York City but hated it because she just wanted to focus on music. Currently she works in her family’s diner in New Jersey and performs locally particularly in Montclair, N.J. but will be playing in Boston in September with Loyola alum.

Currently she is working on cutting her first album. “Not so much like raw but not like crazy radio quality, just myself. We’re gonna get it out there and maybe people will like it.  Kevin Gift is like insane. He is the full band basically. I’ll bring my guitar and lay down the basic tracks, he’ll send me this insane thing with like bass and drums, organs. Like all this stuff.  He’s essentially the band. He’s the first person I really felt like I could talk to about what I wanted to record,” said Dontas.

Gift spoke about working with Maria, “I met Maria when she was a student, not when I was teaching her, but a friend of hers told me that she needed some help recording some things.  I had no idea but when she started to sing. Then I had her in a class and we kept in touch. It’s really cool to be working with her.”

For Dontas’s performance, she is the girl with the guitar. Dontas sang several of her original songs, many of which are about love. For her later songs, she brought up 2013 graduate, Casey Miller to play guitar while she sang. The lyrics of “Broken” stayed with me because I felt they can be universal. “Better not to fall in love than be broken, better just to mess around than be broken, better just to kiss your mouth, dance around.”  She also sang my personal favorite one of her songs, “The Ballad of Willie Wonka,” a song I began to hum under my breath when she started singing it, proof that maybe I have seen too many of her shows.

Mullet, an ‘80s cover band from Connecticut closed the night out to the small but exuberant crowd singing ‘80s songs including “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”

Claire Cummings, VP of Social Affairs and one of the organizers of the event explained reason for the bandstand.  “SGA really wanted to end the week on a fun note, outside celebrating what will be a great year. Mullet was a hit on campus two years ago so we really wanted to bring them back. We also wanted to highlight the talents of Kevin Gift and Maria Dontas because of their connections to Loyola. Utilizing this part of campus was a little bit different and this year one of our mottos is ‘innovation with tradition.’ We have Loyolapalooza but why not have a quad concert in the fall?”

A common theme amongst performers and SGA was complimenting event services’ contribution to the concert because without them, such events would not be possible.  I am sure many days were spent planning out the logistics of the concert and the results were undeniable. The stage was set up closer to Humanities and Jenkins rather than on the steps of Maryland providing a different viewpoint on campus. There were lights in the trees, colored gelled lights on the stage and even a fog machine for Mullet.  I thought the lights in the trees were a lovely touch besides being something I have never seen before. The colored lights reflected on Humanities reminding me  how beautiful the quad really is.  All day on Friday, events staff could be seen setting up the quad and  testing the sound, which did not falter once during the shows. They were even still working hard taking down the stage when I walked by after midnight.

The bandstand concert is a great idea. As a huge proponent/attendee of Loyola campus events, I feel this idea has great potential but there needs to be a new marketing strategy to ensure that a larger crowd shows up. It has all the makings of a great campus event —live music, free food and this year, good weather, yet few people showed up. This does not make any sense to me. It also started early enough in the day that it should not have interfered with anyone’s late night plans. I hope this becomes an annual event because with time, I am sure it could grow into a fall Loyolapalooza.

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Bandstand welcomes back two beloved Loyola figures