Our president rocks

Everybody gets the blues now and then, even college presidents. But few can sing them as expertly as Connecticut College President Katherine Bergeron.

Bergeron, a musician and music historian, and her husband, Butch Rovan, a composer and multimedia artist, performed with students on the eve of Fall Weekend, the College’s annual gathering for alumni, families and students, wowing a crowd of hundreds with soulful takes on two blues standards and one classic Stevie Wonder tune.

The concert, “Bergeron by the Barn,” was a celebration of the newly refurbished MOBROC Barn where student bands — organized under the banner Musicians Organized for Band Rights on Campus (MOBROC) — rehearse and perform. And the mood was celebratory indeed. The buzzing crowd, assembled under a brightly lit tent next to the barn, was visibly energized by the cool autumn night and the expectation of what was to come. They were not disappointed.

Following opening acts Canopy and the SB’s, Bergeron and Rovan performed with Montreal Protocol, a student band comprising juniors Drew Andre, Joe Donohue, Luke Graves and Sam McKeown, and first-year student Ben Greene. They performed Albert Collins’ “Jealous Man,” albeit from a woman’s perspective and dedicated by Bergeron to the women in the audience; “Caldonia,” which has been covered by a wide variety of artists, including Muddy Waters, Bill Haley, Carl Perkins, James Brown and Willie Nelson; and Wonder’s “Superstition,” accompanied enthusiastically by the crowd.

Said Andre, “Performing with President Bergeron and Butch was incredibly inspiring for me, but the experience really was surreal and thrilling for everyone present — faculty, staff, students and parents. Feeling a connection with your president is really, really special.”

First-year student Laura Henderson agrees.

“I loved this show because I love the vibe of student-run bands, and having the president be part of this makes her so much more part of the community,” Henderson said after “Bergeron by the Barn.” “It's rare to have an administrator or leader be approachable like this.”

And, as Bergeron noted, it’s rare to find something like MOBROC at other institutions.

“When I started to research Connecticut College, I found out about this organization called Musicians Organized for Band Rights on Campus and I thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever heard,” she told the audience before her performance. “You guys have to know that this doesn't exist at any other place — it really doesn’t.”


October 10, 2014