Virtuosos refuse to give their tunes a rest

Trinity University is home to various bands made up of students, faculty and staff alike. From jazz to blues to classic rock n’ roll, the campus teems with musical talent.

A new band featuring Trinity students is The Barbaloots, whose name comes from Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax.” John Morgan, junior music major, and Dominic Walsh, first-year engineering and physics major, are two members of this four-part San Antonio-based indie group.

Morgan recently switched majors from geosciences to music to continue the pursuit of his passion.

“Don’t get me wrong — it’s all beautiful, but I don’t know, I feel like I could really do something good with music if I tried hard enough,” Morgan said. “Who knows if my major will change next semester? But, as of right now, music’s the only thing that’s made me the happiest.”

Despite taking 17 credit hours and conducting research on the side, Walsh has still been able to dedicate time to practicing his music.

“You have the routine set up from summer and from before. And you know most of your music, music that you’ve written. You have it down. And so you have to, for a while, not have a few practices, get into the routine of school. Eventually just find time on weekends or on days when you don’t have classes in the afternoon to practice,” Walsh said.

Walsh’s commitments to performing in The Barbaloots and preparing adequetly in school have cost him a great amount of time.

“The life of a musician involves being up really late at night. Really, a lot of the free time you get as a college student is at night when you don’t have classes, so it’s just when you’re done studying throughout the day,” Morgan said.

Steven Gutierrez and Daniel Rothschild, junior communication and English majors, respectively, make up Burn Your Enthusiasm, a recently created duo influenced by Modest Mouse, Attic Abasement and Joan of Arc. Living in separate states postponed Gutierrez and Rothschild’s collaboration until they reunited at Trinity.

“It’s mostly been building off of previously worked-on stuff we did separately. I would have some things that couldn’t really get past not having a guitar, and Steven would have some really nice, little riffs worked up that he was trying hard to get out.”

Gutierrez’s favorite part of being in a band is the ability to creatively collaborate with someone else who shares his passion.

“Having someone else to give you opinions and have other ideas. It just makes for more material; it enhances the productivity, you know? It makes it more fun. You’re not by yourself. There are certain aspects that get in the way, but mostly it makes things pretty easy,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez and Rothschild need a rehearsal space instead of storing their gear in their dorm room.

“We’ve gotten a couple angry poundings on our walls and we’ve gotten a couple noise complaints for that,” Rothschild said.

They’ve spoken with professors about a rehearsal space but to no avail; the spaces are reserved for music students.

“Maybe the most ideal space would just a small classroom-size room that had whatever equipment they have available, but you could bring your equipment to it too. Because we actually wouldn’t mind lugging all of our stuff across campus. It would honestly be cool to have a space that’s just open to the general campus,” Gutierrez said.

Kory Cook, jazz music director for KRTU, is a member of five separate bands. The Whale, however, is the only band Cook attributes to himself; this band is made up of a saxophone player, Cook on drums, and a rotating cast of special guests.

“Personally, I think it’s really all about creating something that no one’s heard. So in art, if you wanna make something known to people that is in your soul and in your imagination that you have never seen somebody else do — or maybe you wanna create something that no one else has ever heard — that’s not easy,” Cook said.

Cook has learned through significant amounts of rehearsal that being able to think on your feet is the most valuable skill a musician can possess.

“It’s more important, in my opinion, to be able to improvise and do it very well. And that’s what I’m always working on as a musician.”

As previously mentioned, The Whale frequently features different guests during their performances.

“Our next show is Sept. 25, and this guy named Farad Ibrahimovic is from Yugoslavia — and the point is that I’ve never played with Farad. But I know he’s gonna play with me, and I know it’s gonna sound amazing because we’re gonna play extreme improvisation, and he’s gonna be able to do whatever he wants,” Cook said.

Peter Olofsson, professor and chair of mathematics, is another faculty member who performs in a band. He plays piano for a rock n’ roll group called The Dead Barons.  They have one album out called “Swimsuit Optional.”

“The Dead Barons is sort of a pun on the Red Baron who was a fighter pilot during World War I, and you can see there are some German war planes in the background here on the album, and a girl is sitting on a bomb. I like the cover. I think the cover is the best thing about the CD,” Olofsson said.

Olofsson cites Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard as his influences. With their trademark red and black striped shirts, The Dead Barons have played at venues all over San Antonio, including at Fiesta.

“We once played at the River Boat Parade. We played on one of those boats, so we actually had over half a million people in the audience that time,” Olofsson said.

Information about performances by these bands can be uncovered by contacting the various members of each group.