In fall 2015, after touring the campus literally four times and falling in love with everything about the film major, I came into Keene State College knowing that I was going to be a dual major of Film Production and Film Critical Studies. I would have never guessed that I would also be managing a punk band.
As a sophomore in late 2016, I was a learning assistant for film professor Lance Levesque’s Production 1 class and was given the task of curating and hosting the fall event, Music Video Night, where filmmakers get a chance to showcase their music video making abilities in the Putnam theatre. The word got out and people packed every seat in the house with their love for both film and music.
The next semester, I was asked back to curate and host the program, yet this time, with a twist. Levesque had the brilliant idea of challenging the makers to only include original songs for that semester, forcing filmmakers to seek out musicians, either around campus or in their own lives. I absolutely fell in love with this idea.
I have always had a soft spot in my heart for music videos and the idea of filmmakers and musicians coming together, so, of course, I wanted to participate in the event with my own video. I proposed this idea to my friend, Mike, who had mentioned to me a while back that he was the drummer of Keene punk band, Gray Haven. After the others said “Hell yeah,” they picked their single “Orcas,” we came up with a quick idea and I shot and edited it all in a matter of two weeks.
A week after yet another packed house and successful showing for the Spring 2017 Music Video Night, I was reminiscing about the vibe on set and how we all seemed to click, me with the camera and them goofing off for the camera, and I decided to look into some shows around the area for them. I later messaged Mike that I had found two shows in VT and NH for them and they later asked me if I wanted to be their manager. And the rest is history.
I often get asked after telling this story of ‘how I became a manager of a punk band,’ first, “What the heck, how?” and second, “Did you ever think you wanted to be a manager of a band?” To that I say, no freakin way. If you had told me as a first-year in college that I was going to spend my sophomore year and on with this crazy group of four of the most nerdy rock stars, book them shows which would then turn into a month long tour in the summer of 2017, and become not only their manager, but best friends with all of them – no freakin’ way. But I’m really glad I did.
Being a manager of a band means believing wholeheartedly in the band you’re working for. It means getting their music out there, and not only pushing others, but pushing themselves to believe in what they’re creating musically.
When we decided to go on tour, I remember the four of them having these huge ideas of what the ideal situation would be, tour truck and all, and the dream cities they’d want to hit, especially NYC, Boston and Philadelphia. The whole time while they were all going back and forth on these big ideas for their first tour, I knew it was my job to get them there. We not only hit those cities, but played a total of 15 shows and recorded three new songs at Rancho Cucamonga Studios all in a three-week span, and all crammed in one truck from Manchester, NH to Philadelphia, PA, and everywhere in between.
I have honestly never been so proud of any group of people than I was of Gray Haven on every single night of that tour. Watching them play for three weeks straight in front of new crowds that had never heard of them, but were rocking out and making them feel like true rock stars, made me realize that being a manager is so much more than just promoting your band’s music. It’s about getting your band opportunities and experiences that they’ll never forget. It’s about exposing their music to loads of different people that they’d never expect. But most importantly, it’s about finding this weird group of nerds who make really great music together, becoming best friends, and being apart of the epic journey, wherever it may us after we all graduate this May.
I never in a million years would have expected to be part of a band when coming into Keene State, but to the guys of Gray Haven – thanks for letting me be a part of the band (even though I know they’ll always deny that I’m actually “in the band”…but we all know I am).
Gray Haven and their summer tour will also be featured in a documentary about the collaboration between musicians and filmmakers through music videos, premiering in the Keene Colonial Theatre on Sunday, April 22, made by yours truly.
Rachel Blumberg can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org