Lehigh Music Box holds monthly open mic nights, but students are typically the only ones who perform. To connect the Lehigh and local music scenes and bring a variety of acts to campus, the club began partnering with Tape Swap Radio, a local independent music station.
Shamus McGroggan, the founder and producer of Tape Swap Radio, contacted Music Box to start a collaboration between the two communities. He attended an open mic night last semester and realized Lehigh would be a good place to start working toward integrating music in the Valley, especially because Lehigh is close to venues like IceHouse Tonight and Lit Roastery and Bakeshop.
Through the partnership, local bands will play at Lehigh events, and Lehigh performers will play at local events.
“The issue I’m trying to focus on is bridging the gap between students and community members who already come out to shows,” McGroggan said.
McGroggan said it’s important to blend the two communities together since students are, for the time they live at Lehigh, residents of Bethlehem. He said he wasn’t seeing many students come to local shows, which he thought was odd because he knew students were interested in live music.
Michelle Rodriguez, ’21, an artist and repertoire chair for Music Box, keeps a list of Lehigh artists and puts them in touch with local artists looking for openers.
“I hope to get more exposure for Lehigh bands in the Valley and give them a way to break out from our bubble,” Rodriguez said.
She is excited to have other bands come onto campus to mix up the lineup, because mostly the same groups perform at open mic nights.
Bethlehem-based band Service Dog performed at open mic night on April 7. Rodriquez said they usually only give acts about 10 minutes to play, but they gave Service Dog 20 minutes because people enjoyed them so much.
“I liked how the audience stayed to watch multiple acts, rather than just watching their friends and leaving, and how supportive they were,” McGroggan said. “It was definitely successful.”
McGroggan plans to continue this partnership with Music Box and hopes to bring bands to at least a couple of open mic nights next semester.
“The goal is to bring bands on campus and out into the community so the independent music scene can grow and prosper,” McGroggan said.
Rodriguez said she doesn’t know where the partnership will go but hopes it grows so everyone can enjoy the community’s music.
McGroggan, who is the membership and development manager for WDIY, has been in the radio business for 10 years, starting when he was in college. He founded Tape Swap Radio to give independent local artists attention they wouldn’t otherwise receive.
“I wanted to pour my time and attention into the music around here,” McGroggan said. “There were people in the Lehigh Valley who were recording bands and artists but none who were doing a permanent impact.”
Rodriguez said there will be a rainbow showcase for a LGBT charity at Banana Factory on April 21 to raise awareness for queer issues.
Matt Korwan, ’21, will open the IceHouse show on April 28. He started playing as soon as he arrived on Lehigh’s campus, when there was an open mic night during his orientation week. He soon joined Music Box and later became a member of it its executive board.
“I’ll be playing some acoustic guitar and self-deprecating lyrics,” Korwan said. “I’m pretty stoked for the show and I’m excited to be playing.”