Music as Means

Claire Tillinghast, Staff Writer

SRJC would have seemed desolate to any pedestrian strolling through campus Thursday evening. However, if they passed by Bertolini Student Center, they would’ve heard a steady beat resonating from behind its doors. 

Through those front doors a crowd of about 35 gathered to listen to three musical performances at the free concert. The singers captivated their audience with powerful lyrics that addressed many important global matters.

The first performer, Henry Moss, sang “The Road to Babylon,” a folk-style song that talked about the craziness of war. His next piece, “Playing his Part”, was inspired by a woman whose son was killed in Iraq. He also covered the treatment of undocumented workers, in which he said that our attempts to harass them, deport them and break up their families is “outrageous.” 

Another of his songs “Fire and Oil” discussed deep water drilling and how it’s born from greed. “This is the only planet we have,” Moss said. “We have to take care of it. It’s a long walk to the next one.” 

SRJC Director of Student Affairs Robert Ethington performed next accompanied by Amy Ethington on vocals. “This is the first concert we’ve had like this since the building’s been opened,” Ethington said. “Hopefully, we can have local artists and traveling artists come through.” 

One of his songs talked about the tragic shootings in Arizona, while another called ‘Be Robinhood’ emphasized the fact that we all have the capacity to go out and make change. 

Coyote Grace was last to perform. The “radically progressive” duo, Joe Stevens and Ingrid Elizabeth had a warm stage presence as they joked with the crowd throughout their performances with music ranging from bluesy to ballads with plenty of soul mixed in. 

Beginning as street performers in Seattle, the two were eventually able to fund their first studio album and became traveling artists, though not without some difficulties along the way. Guitarist Stevens talked openly about his gender transition from female to male. Although it was definitely not without cost, he said he would do it all over again if he had to. 

Amanda Swan, who created Music as Means a year and a half ago, grew up listening to music from the ‘60s but it wasn’t until she really listened to the lyrics of the song “Ohio” by Neil Young, that she realized how powerful a message a song could send. The song was a reaction to the Kent State Shootings of May 4, 1970, and its lyrics help to capture the feelings of horror, shock and outrage in the tragedy’s aftermath. “If we want to get people more involved, music is a way to bring people together.”

 Kory Ryan took the stage after the final performance thanking the audience and encouraging support for these types of campus programs. “I’m really excited,” Ryan said about the event. “Music as a statement is important and has been missing for a long time.” Music as Means will be held annually in Bertolini Student Center.