Live On Stage at SUNY Geneseo Database:The data for each performance/event includes first names, last names, academic year, date, performance fees, type of performance, location, sponsoring organization, contract document numbers in Milne Library collection, and available PDF images of posters.
Sponsoring Organizations:This database includes information on most of the contractual agreements for Student Association as well as events sponsored by other student and community organizations. The contract documents have been placed in the Milne Library archives. Sponsoring organizations are identified for most of the events and it should be noted that the names of several sponsoring groups changed over time. For example, Council on the Arts became Limelight and later Limelight and Accents and Coffee House became MOJO and later Mac’s Place.
How did this poster and data project get started?In 2007, the contract source 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, "Making Music History at SUNY Geneseo: The Tom Matthews Archive," 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 also created an exhibition in the Lederer Gallery, "Dorm Rooms Through The Decades at SUNY Geneseo" with a public viewing on November 17, 2021. The exhibit will be open to the public and alumni for Alumni Weekend, June 3-4-2022.
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 as the student chair of Limelight Council and later as a Program Advisor in the College Union & Activities Department and more recent service as Advisor to Student Association from 2011-2017, were invaluable in the process of conceptualizing and managing this project. Tracy Paradis, Milne Library Digital Collections & Archives Librarian, created the digital space on KnightScholar, provided guidance and support for this project and created the Live on Stage at SUNY Geneseo Posters Archives. Thank you Tracy. Hamilton-Rogers will continue to update the KnightScholar collection, adding posters, photos, and stories that alumni may share through the Google doc link, below.
The form to add a poster or photo or share a story about a favorite performer is here: Add My Poster or Photo
How was SUNY Geneseo able to bring so many famous people to campus?
There are four reasons that made this possible:
First, we created an organization, called the Activities Commission, that attracted highly motivated student leaders who knew the music and entertainment business and were focused on bringing quality performances and entertainment, challenging speakers, and fun events for the campus and the community to enjoy.
Second, the Geneseo Student Association, led by the Central Council/Executive Committee provided generous yearly budgets and the financial resources to support these programs and activities.
Third, Geneseo 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. Click here to see a comprehensive College Staff List naming all individuals who played a significant role in managing these programs through the years.
Fourth, 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 founders of the organization decided to create 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 of NEC 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 the number of colleges needed to sustain the project, but Geneseo did host Aerosmith on their first tour 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 Geneseo opportunities to book artists such as 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 at Concert Ideas, who helped colleges and talent agencies book tours of new artists as well as secure dates on high demand tours for popular artists.
Thank you to the dozens of staff members and hundreds of student leaders and volunteers who booked performers and managed the events that enriched the student experience and the cultural life of the community during the last third (50 years) of the 150 years since the founding of SUNY Geneseo in 1871.