Coming Together Over Coffee and Music
Sufficient Grounds (SG) was full with music and people on a recent Friday for the weekly SG live performance night. I stood at the back of the packed room, listening to the strange mixture of chatter, the occasional blender and the masterful harmonies in “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” the last song performed by “Maestro and Bravo,” the opening band for performer Calvin Whetstone. This chaotic, yet melodious environment perfectly represents the diverse yet unified community that Bethel is trying to promote through events like SG live performance night.
Elaina (’14) and Matthew (’15) Gillin, members of the opening band “Maestro and Bravo,” are no strangers to the Bethel community after winning “Battle of the Bands.” Their popularity reached the ears of Kelsey Arntzen, a Bethel alum responsible for scheduling bands, and after a few emails, “Maestro and Bravo” was booked to perform at SG live performance night. But performing an entire set of music in the crowded coffee shop of SG is definitely a change of pace for this brother-sister duo.
“It seems very welcoming,” says Elaina Gillin. “The people are a lot closer, I like it.”
Elaina and Matthew have performed in coffee shops before, but never in front of a group of their peers, with tables so close you can reach out and touch the audience. Their acoustic, folk-inspired music style fits with the laid back environment of the coffee shop, and definitely made an impact on the students listening.
“I really, really love Maestro and Bravo,” says Christen Wegener (Jr.). “I love their sound.”
Stephanie Edmond agrees: “I thought they were good. They’re very chill, I like that.”
But the entertainment that night did not stop there. Calvin Whetstone, a sophomore Christian ministries major, took the stage and performed eight of his own original songs along with a few covers.
“It was more like a background sound, they’re not standing up front clapping and going crazy or anything like that, and I expected that,” says Whetstone.
Though it was a big change from leading worship music at his home church, Colonial Woods Missionary, Calvin’s acoustic genre mixed perfectly with the similar style of Maestro and Bravo, a difficult band to follow for any performer. According to the students, Calvin lived up to expectations.
“Calvin has a lot of talent,” says sophomore Zach VanHuisen. “He has a good stage presence.”
Senior Kelsey Bucknam agrees, “I was really impressed by his skill.”
But anyone who goes to SG live performance night can see that you come for more than just good music and lyrics. Countless numbers of Bethel students pack into the small Sufficient Grounds lobby to be a part of the welcoming environment that separates Bethel from other colleges.
“Bethel has a great community,” says Bucknam. “We are a small school so we get that luxury. I think that this is a great way for students to interact more and be able to just have cool stuff going on around school.”
Social life has strived to provide students with an endless list of activities to participate in on campus; SG live performance night is no exception. These weekly events give both the community and upcoming performers a platform to connect with students and share music that might otherwise not be heard.
SG live performance nights are every Friday at 7 p.m. It is free and open to the public.