COACHELHAM: A different kind of festival
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A new kind of festival was born on Saturday in the Westmont community, rivaling the likes of Stagecoach and Coachella: Coachelham. The gentlemen of the Chelham House hospitably opened their house as a stage for musicians, artists and friends. The crowd was mixed with graduate and current Westmont students as well as other friends of the community all there to support the night’s talent.
Amongst twinkle lights, an open bonfire and lively chatter, five bands took the living-room-turned-stage with their unique styles and voices.
Fourth-year Maxwell Dunn, in charge of publicizing the event via word of mouth, Facebook and even Snapchat, said the idea for the festival blossomed into an enthusiastic and enjoyable reality quite organically, with friends and bands readily agreeing to participate in the night of entertainment.
Dunn’s favorite part of the night was the audience’s support: “It has been really great to see how many people showed up and how excited everyone is. Regardless of how many people came, it has just been encouraging to see everyone’s enthusiasm for people our age contributing and creating something enjoyable for us all through music and art.”
Third-year Martin Hill, the electronic keyboardist in the band Genn Thor—dubbed fourth-year Jake Elliot’s “metal project”—described the night as a source of musical inspiration: “I get excited hearing someone’s cool guitar rhythm that inspires me to think about what I can do with that in my own music and with my own instrument.”
Hill said Coachelham’s celebration of different genres sets this festival apart from other musical concerts or events. Metal, jazz, folk, singer/songwriter—Coachelham had it all.
The representation of different kinds of music led to a fantastic energy that transformed as the night went on, with no band sounding similar to another. Will Breman and the Houseblend effortlessly mixed jazz and singer/songwriter genres, which had attendees singing and swaying along to their hit “Julia.”
Fourth-year Meg Wolfgram, an attendee of Coachelham, went to visit friends and watch The Riverside perform. The caliber and talent of the other bands in the lineup convinced her to stay as she discovered a new favorite—Mimi Gilbert.
Gilbert’s vocals mesmerized the room with her endearing personal style and flair. Australia, New Zealand and Ojai are just a few of the places that have influenced this world-traveling musician and her original music. The audience was all snaps and claps for Gilbert’s incredible dexterity and expertise with the loop pedals, harmonizing and beatboxing to her own catchy melodies.
The night’s performances ended with Trevor Borden and his soothing vocals with lyrics that led audience members on a musical journey.
When asked about the festival’s reception in the Westmont community, Hill commented, “To begin with, a lot of people at Westmont are really musical and a lot of people love that music so it helps to have these kind of turnouts. Westmont people love to come and hear music, so they’re going to come to things like these. Westmont is pretty special to have this kind of music.”
The bands who performed sold merchandise and EPs—a win-win for attendees who were able to both support the artists and gain access to the music they listened to throughout the night. In many ways, the festival delivered on what it set out to do: celebrate and showcase artists within the community.
The night featured not only musicians but artists as well, with sculptures, photographs and drawings posted on the walls throughout the house. The most surprising piece of the showcase? A smashed guitar labeled “You’re Not Playing It Right” by Ben Patterson hanging on the wall. Fourth-years Adrina Goglanian and Morgan Holman, as well as alumnus Greg Swanson all provided art pieces for festival viewing.
When asked if they would sponsor another Coachelham festival, Dunn said they wished they could start a tradition that would encourage and support the talent unique to the Westmont community and those closely related to it on a monthly basis and augment events such as the Phoenix and open mic nights done on campus.
Coachelham’s intimate setting, unique offering of genres and support from the community contributed to making this festival a diverting experience to all artists and attendees involved.