“Nothing replaces the experience of enjoying a live event.”
Live On Stage at SUNY Geneseo is a database of performances and events at the College from 1996 to 2021. This collection of information on performers, speakers,and events is based on a review of 4,700+ contracts that were negotiated with individuals, organizations, talent agencies, lecture bureaus, and entertainment vendors by student leaders, student activities staff, and faculty. During the 25 years that Tom Matthews served as student activities director from 1967 to 1992, his job responsibilities included approving and signing contracts for performances that were partially or fully funded by the student activities fee and Student Association. Campus events that were not funded by student fees, with some exceptions, are not included in this data report. Contracts for performances after 1995, when authority for signing contracts was transferred to the Student Association, will be reviewed and added to KnightScholar as part of the 150th anniversary celebration.
Live On Stage at SUNY Geneseo is an historical record of thousands of events and programs that enriched student and campus and community life during the last 50 years. Users and alumni will be able to search for the name of a coffee house performer, look up an opening act for a concert, recall a memorable first date event, or just enjoy fond memories of campus life in Geneseo. The form to add a poster or photo or share a story about a favorite performer is: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfNiCAG5LrEH0DFWorDe4aDkfYIDGx_i8sAvyFKI88dJ3ixmA/viewform
Frequently Asked Questions
How did this poster and data project get started?
In 2007, the contract documents were saved from shredding and a student employee, Kristen Kimber, was assigned the task of entering information from the contracts into a data file. The electronic file and the contracts were saved and a draft highlighting major performers was shared with alumni and friends who attended Matthews retirement party in 2018. In 2021, the College committee planning the 150th anniversary asked Matthews to share the files and poster collection. A Music 100 class on Making Music History at Geneseo taught by professor Monica Hershberger was offered in the fall 2021 semester and two student interns, Samantha Rompala and Li Jensen, scanned event posters from Matthews archives and the Student Association collection. The scanned posters are linked to the data files. The music class created an exhibition in the Lederer Gallery on Dorm Rooms Through The Decades at SUNY Geneseo that will be reopened for Alumni Reunion Weekend in June 2022.
Patty Hamilton-Rodgers ‘85, Advancement Specialist, assisted Matthews with organizing the posters, supervising the student interns and student employee Gillian Neos, and editing the database. Her knowledge and engagement both as the student chair of Limelight Council and later as a Program Advisor in the College Union & Activities Department were invaluable in the process of conceptualizing and managing this project. She will continue to update KnightScholar and add posters, photos and stories that alumni may share through the google doc link on this website.
How was SUNY Geneseo able to bring so many famous people to campus?
There are three reasons that made this possible. First, we had an organization called the Activities Commission, with highly motivated student leaders who knew the music business and were focused on bringing quality performances and entertainment, challenging speakers, and fun events for the campus and the community to enjoy. Second, we had an incredible professional and student staff who helped student leaders with the booking, promoting and managing of events. Practically every event depended on program advisors, graphic artists, technical services, reservations, catering services, and dozens of student volunteers. Third, both the student leaders and staff members were involved in the National Entertainment Conference (NEC) that later became the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA). Matthews and student leader Joe Thoman attended the Southeast Block Booking Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina in February 1968 and were present in the room when the organization decided to become a national organization to help colleges block book entertainment and educate members about producing and managing concerts and events. Later that same year, Matthews and the Geneseo students and other area colleges organized a New York informal organization and an annual booking conference that mirrored what was happening at the national and regional levels throughout the country. Students attended these conferences, became familiar with the booking agencies and used that knowledge to book up and coming artists and entertainers.
Matthews was elected to the board of directors in 1972 and served two terms as chair. He worked on NEC development projects such as the Coffee House Circuit that provided artists for 3-4 day residencies on college campuses for fees ranging from $150.00 to $300.00 and another with the Leber-Krebs Management firm that offered Mini college tours to promote new artists with released albums. Geneseo participated in three Leber-Krebs tours with other colleges to present SUPA, Tiny Alice, and Aerosmith for performances fees of $410.00 each. The Mini college tour project did not attract enough colleges to sustain the project, but Geneseo was able to host Aerosmith in the early stages of their rise to international fame.
Geneseo was able to book many notable performers and speakers because over time Geneseo developed a reputation for exemplary management of events and our staff and students knew the movers and shakers in the entertainment business. Talent agents frequently offered us opportunities to book people like Billy Joel on a Tuesday night in December when they needed to fill a date on a tour. We also used the services of a reputable middle agent, Harris Goldberg, who helped colleges and talent agencies book tours of new artists as well as secure dates on high demand tours for popular artists.