Nashville and spring break are words rarely used in the same sentence—unless of course, you attend Berklee College of Music. Each year, more than a hundred Berklee students forgo the surf and sun of the traditional spring break hot spots and head to Nashville for a crash course on life in the music business.
Last March, students led by Berklee professors Steven Webber and Pat Pattison attended workshops, clinics, and writers rounds hosted by some of the most accomplished personalities in the music business. Legends like Pam Tillis, George Massenburg, Gary Burr, Ricky Skaggs, and Mike Reid were just some of the industry pros on hand to impart their wisdom and sage advice to audiences of Berklee students and faculty. As always, the Nashville Berklee Alumni Chapter played an active role in the week’s events. Outgoing chapter head Megan Kirschbaum ’04 hosted the always-popular alumni panel. This year’s clan of Berklee-Beach transplants included Dillon Dixon ’91, Rachel Solomon ’05, Beth Schackne ’97, Mare Wakefield ’04, Nick Buda ’96, and Ben Strano ’01.
The annual alumni reception held at the week’s end provided some downtime allowing the students to mingle with the extensive network of Berklee alums living in the Nashville area. For the second year in a row, the alumni reception also marked a changing of the guard in the alumni chapter leadership. Yours truly, Dave Petrelli, was announced as the new chapter president, replacing Megan Kirschbaum who, after a year of service, is stepping down to pursue her blossoming career.
After the bus left Nashville to return to Boston and life had returned to “normal,” alumni chapter activities resumed. On April 21, we held the third alumni showcase at Edgehill Studios on Music Row. A mix of new and old faces took the stage for two sets of fantastic music. On the bill were new arrivals Eric French ’05, and Brian Lucas ’96, along with Music City mainstays Jesse Lingo ’03, Beth Schackne, Alan Powell ’89, and Colleen McFarland. A five-year veteran of the Nashville music scene, McFarland used the platform to announce that two of her songs have been licensed by Universal Music for use in the latest DVD release of the television show Northern Exposure. We hope it provides some much-deserved exposure for McFarland’s amazing talent as well.
The chapter’s budding relationship with charity group, Reading, Writing & Rhythm (RW&R) continues to grow as well. Founded by country music star Chely Wright, RW&R raises awareness for music education in America’s schools. (For more information, visit www.rwandr.org.)
On May 5 a number of Berklee alumni were on hand to volunteer at the Nashville Sounds (triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers) baseball game. Free admission was given to any fan donating an instrument to RW&R and a Chely Wright-autographed Gibson Epiphone SG guitar was raffled off during the game. It was a great night for a great cause, though certainly, the Sounds’ Greer Stadium is no Fenway Park. (Ah, the things some of us took for granted while living in Boston.)
For more information on the Berklee Nashville Alumni Chapter, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s all until next time.
Nashville Berklee Alumni Chapter President