Need to play something that isn’t “Happy” by Pharrell? We know how repetitive the radio can get, and it’s hard to find the right summer playlist for when you just want to kick back and relax. The Clog has compiled a not-so-mainstream summer list of songs performed by Cal students, alumni and staff. Check out some of Cal’s hidden musical gems below.
Yes, we know, the banjo evokes images of log cabins and rolling prairies. But paired with the fiddle, Berkeley alumnus Bill Evans’ banjo playing pops in and out of the melody of “Polly Put the Kettle On” to make the perfect summer rhythm. Bill Evans is the ultimate banjo master. He got his master’s degree in Ethnomusicology from Berkeley and is the author of Banjo for Dummies. This song is part of his album Fine Times At Fletcher’s House, a 16-song collaboration with famous fiddler Fletcher Bright.
A cappella awesomeness
If you’re a fan of Ylvis, this cover of “Stonehenge,” done from inside a cardboard Stonehenge by Berkeley’s DeCadence a cappella group, is the next best thing. For more upbeat summer tunes, check out the group’s Youtube channel or purchase its music here. DeCadence performs in front of Sather Gate every Wednesday afternoon, so don’t miss out on watching this fun a cappella group perform live once fall semester rolls around!
“After Forgetting” is a great soft, gentle late-night summer track to play while studying or — more realistically — just looking up at the stars. Spoiler alert: It picks up just when you feel yourself falling asleep. For more of Keeril Makan’s work, check out his portrait CD titled Afterglow. His work has been commissioned by Carnegie Hall, the American Composers Orchestra and the Harvard Musical Association. He received his doctorate in composition at UC Berkeley.
Perfection on piano
This video of Theodora Serbanescu-Martin playing in our very own Hertz Hall is great for some sophisticated summer evenings. Her soft, melodic piano-playing is sure to make the perfect accompaniment to your strawberry smoothie and summer reading. While pursuing a double major in English and music at Berkeley, Theodora has also won first prize at the American Fine Arts Festival Concerto Competition and is a piano-playing celebrity on campus.
Cal Band choreography
We often take the Cal Band for granted, but this Justin Timberlake medley performed at Stanford last year reminds us how amazing it really is. Not only does our band have all the right moves, but it also gives us just the peppy, pumped-up summer music we’ve been missing all summer. The marching band performs medleys of artists such as Britney Spears and Maroon 5 throughout the year. For more of Cal Band’s perfectly choreographed videos, check out its YouTube channel, or buy its CD at the ASUC Student Store!
The oboe played by Robert Sheena in “Six Metamorphoses after Ovid” is smooth, jazzy and varied. After receiving his bachelor’s in music from Berkeley, Robert Sheena became the principal English horn player for the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1994, but he also plays a mean oboe.
“Anna” by Berkeley alumnus Gunnar Madsen is famous for having been featured in “Sex and the City,” but it’s also just a really deep summer track to listen to — especially if you want to try something a little more serious. While he has arranged some pretty intense pieces for plays and albums, he also writes children’s music, making him quite the musical renaissance man. Madsen’s entire discography can be found on his official website here.
Raijin Taiko, Cal’s official Japanese taiko drumming group, performs upbeat drumming compositions that are sure to be loud and energetic. The group holds various performances throughout the year, as well as an annual spring showcase. But to see some of its past performances, check out its Youtube channel here.
The Crane & The Crow
Whom better to listen to than a current Cal professor? Tamara Roberts is an assistant professor of performance studies and ethnomusicology in the music department, and her band The Crane & The Crow’s song “Prairie” captures summer with soft a cappella vocals and a catchy melody. You can sample the entire album, which is full of breezy summer songs, here.
Contact Nitisha Baronia at [email protected]