Open Letter: Alum Remembers Music @ Bethany

January 2002
Richard Goldman (

When I saw the first issue of Vanguard Party, I was excited someone took the time to put it together. So when I got email asking if I would contribute some comments, I was excited that there would be a second issue. I'm glad I've been given the opportunity to participate.

The years between 1990 and 1994 were exciting for music: grunge came and went; metal and new wave were breathing their dying breaths; and indie rock experiments became the industry's top sellers.

The excitement was reflected on Bethany's campus. The Annual Fall-Fest consistently brought big, important, successful bands to Bethany's campus: skate-punk luminaries The Dead Milkmen; Seattle grunge pioneers The Screaming Trees; weirdo nerd-rockers They Might Be Giants; classic rockers The Romantics; and perhaps most shockingly, for those who keep up with these things, Pennsylvania's Live. These weren't small acts; they were already national successes. Comparable colleges couldn't hold a torch to what our school had to offer. The Student Activities Council was rigorous, enthusiastic, daring, and most importantly, very well supported financially.

Between Fall-Fests, SAC and the administration kept the campus rocking with nearly weekly shows at Boomers. They weren't always exciting acts. But it was live music. It was a taste of what was going on in the rest of the country, because the bands were brought in from around the nation. It happened weekly. And it was at Bethany.

Imagine a tour bus parked at KA for a semester while the band attended school between tours. Bethanians created music. They toured. Both of the bands I remember were successful on and off campus. Maude Gonne was a sort of mulletted metal act. They met in a course on the history of Rock and Roll. Then they bought a school bus, converted it, and spent time each semester planning their tours. If you haven't heard of Maude Gonne, that's to be expected. They set their own goals, met them successfully, and went on with life after college.

Brownie Mary, on the other hand, you might have heard of. They met at Bethany, played here, graduated, got a major recording deal, and have been touring and recording ever since. They're Pittsburgh celebrities, Bethany "heroes," and nationally recognized performers.
When we hear of a bunch of nobodies getting a recording contract or going on tour, or both, we tend to think "wow, what were the odds." When I think that both of the bands on this tiny campus when I was a student here were successful, I have to reconsider those odds.

Well, that was a different Bethany. But, it doesn't have to have been. Start a band. You only have to know three chords. If you think there's no point, that the odds of success are ridiculous, think of Brownie Mary, or of Maude Gonne and their tour bus parked at KA. And then reconsider.

Get involved with the Student Activities Council. Get your favorite bands on campus. Show enthusiasm, and you'll get the support. The bands will come.

So, get involved with WVBC. Play at open mic nights. Get off campus for shows. Make a music news show for TV3. Anything. Bethany offers some amazing outlets for music enthusiasm -the opportunity to download MP3s was the least significant of them.

If nothing else, support Vanguard Party. If they came to me for writing, they must be desperate for submissions. Send them a short CD review. A piece of news from a web site. Anything. Projects like Vanguard Party -- that not only demonstrate enthusiasm, but also act on it - will make all the difference.



P.O. Box 266
Bethany, WV 26032