Den Sessions, students performing for the sake of performing

The Student Union Den, a location students mostly associate with free food, turns into something else — a music hub every other Thursday.

“I wanted a place for students to present their own musical talents where everyone else can see them,” Mark Williams, music education senior and a student manager for Student Union and Commuter Student Services, said. “Majority of the time I spend in the Arts building, where there are musicians all the time performing in the lobby, performing in the practice rooms and performing in front of each other. But they don’t really get an opportunity to perform on other parts of campus.”

Ukulele player Theddaeus Gauta, architect engineering freshmen, attended the second Den Sessions Feb. 7.

“I used to come over to this side (of the campus), but not much. Usually I’m on the arts side making music there,” he said.

All of Gauta’s classes are on the west side of campus, but his free time is generally spent in the Fine Arts Building to play music, rather than spending time in the Student Union.

He said there really wasn’t anything for him in the middle.

“Now there is,” he said.

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First conceived last semester, Den Sessions didn’t get its first start until Jan. 24.

A total of 10 performers attended, and about 40 spectators came and went throughout the evening.

Willliams said that despite running around to set up the event that first Thursday, it was the students who put forth the effort to start a sign up sheet for performers. Many of the students who played at the first two events were from Williams’ personal connections, but they weren’t the only ones to show up.

“I signed up about three or so musicians to go ahead and play, and being as it was winter break with everyone going here or there, plans kind of fell apart for the first one,” he said. “Come the first night, I didn’t know what to expect. But the crowd it drew wasn’t only the musicians who I personally knew. A lot of others from across campus came who had these talents and abilities that I hadn’t spoken with … who I’d had the honor of meeting just that night.”

The participants circled a sheet of notebook paper in lieu of a formal signup sheet and performed in turns. Williams said representations of jazz, country and karaoke were performed.

“Someone plugged in their iPhone and did a karaoke version of a song, which was wonderful. He was the best singer of the night,” he said. “It’s open to all styles and to all instrumental types.”

The second Den Sessions had even more audience members attend and had a featured band comprised of students called “Night Flight” play a set.

Maria Dosal, undeclared freshman and resource assistant with Student Union and Com- muter Student Services, played her guitar at both Den Sessions.

She has already made connections with other students as a result of attending.

“I met a few people who were like, ‘It’s a good place to meet people and other artists,’” Dosal said. “I met this kid in here, and he wants to play guitar with me … and there’s people I work with that are performing that I didn’t even know were musicians. It’s really cool to see that side of your coworkers.”

Den Sessions takes place every other Thursday from.7 to 8 p.m. The next Den Sessions is Feb. 21. Den Sessions is free to attend and perform in. If you are interested in performing, call the Student Union Information Desk at 907-786-1204, or e-mail them at: [email protected]