A group of first years file in the line to get their points for the campus wide competition. They are greeted by the familiar faces of student life and the vibrant hues of a setting sun. They head on over to the merchandise table where they receive their commemorative stickers and raffle ticket. More people file in as members of the band begin to take the stage, mingling among friends they’ve known for years and friends they have just met. The opening notes of ‘9 to 5’ by Dolly Parton are heard on the keyboard and all eyes shift to the stage.
On Sept. 1 The University of Maine’s college radio station WMEB 91.1 FM hosted their first jamboree of the 2023-2024 school year with a performance by Orono band “Sizzle” at the Innovative media research center’s stage.
“The beginning of the night was filled with students mingling on the lawn. It was awesome to watch people meet and get on, people got up and enjoyed the music through dance. I love the way music brings people together, it’s truly an amazing phenomenon to observe” said marine science student Jessica Cleary-Reuning.
Cleary-Reuning is the station manager at WMEB.
“I oversee the general on-goings of the station and help station staff identify goals for their position and guide them in attaining those goals,” said Cleary-Reuning.
WMEB is UMaine’s student-run radio station. This means that the station is staffed and managed by students.
“WMEB 91.1 FM is the University of Maine’s non commercial, student-run radio station. We strive to promote a wide variety of lesser-known/local music and ideas through our on and off-air presence.” says WMEB’s mission statement.
This is not the first event that WMEB has held. A few years ago they held the muddy Divestfest as well as a few other small concerts here and there. The college radio station has close connections with the local bands on campus, often hosting interviews on their DJs’ radio shows. Sizzle happens to be one of those bands that the radio station is close with. One of their members is an employee of the radio station as well.
“Sizzle is a 6-piece jam fusion band composed of past and current UMaine Students. Trip Nickel and Yoni Musher are on the guitar, Jaylee Rice on the saxophone, Trey Wright on the keyboard, Jackson Skog on the bass guitar and Nick Clifford is their drummer,” Cleary-Reuning said. “The name Sizzle derives from Yoni’s cat, whose name is Sizzle, hence the cat graphic on the event’s promotional material.”
The music ranged from covers of popular songs to originals to moments of jam sessions. Their harmonious sound collaborated well with one another. The sound was a bit washed out due to the location of the stage, but it was able to be carried far off for many to hear. Sizzle manages to maintain their own unique, personal sound that is different from other bands in the Orono area.
“Personally, my favorite part of a Sizzle show is their ability to work with the crowd. They try to use their improvisation skills to shape a show that fits the atmosphere of the audience, and I think that is really amazing.” said Cleary-Reuning.
This proved to be a popular belief as audience member Cy Dove noted the eccentricities that took place on stage.
“My favorite part was when Trey got everyone to meow as an encore cheer,” said Dove.
The night showed to be an exciting precursor for more musical events like this to occur on campus.
“On WMEB’s side, it was really successful event. We gave out 131 raffle tickets and ran out of all 100 of our event stickers. We are super excited to see what this semester has in store for the station and this event was a great way to kick off the semester.” said Cleary-Reuning.
It is interesting to see the growing community of bands that stem from the rural college town of Orono. There is potential for this small town to have a pretty intense music scene once the infrastructure becomes available.
“I think that Orono is special because there is little going on, which leaves a lot of room for students, especially musicians to create what they want and fill the niche. If Orono was filled with pre-established concerts and events, there would be no need for students to create. Especially coming out of 2020/21, there was little to nothing going on in the music scene, which has offered students the space to foster a scene for their liking,” said Cleary-Reuning.
What’s nice about a university scene is that it offers communities for people to come together with resources at their disposal.
“Besides the fact that UMaine has a pretty awesome music program that brings musicians together through classes, I think that the school is stoked to have live music at various events,” Cleary-Reuning said. “I do not wish for much change in the UMaine music community. I think that bringing awareness to the multiple music opportunities on campus and in the Orono community is my biggest goal, but I myself am not a musician, I merely manage the radio station.”
UMaine holds many events throughout the year that students can check out and experience a variety of communities. WMEB is just one of them.
“A student can tune in on their car radio (91.1FM) , on the app TuneIn or through our stream link which can be found on our website. https://umaine.edu/wmeb/. To stay in the loop on station events and on goings, you can follow us on instagram @wmeb919” said Cleary-Reuning. “All of our DJs are either UMaine students or adults who work for the University. And, every student has the opportunity to apply to be a DJ!”
If you’re interested in becoming a DJ, swing by the radio station in the basement of the student Union building and fill out an application. Be sure to tune in to the radio throughout the week to hear a variety of different sounds and voices from the UMaine community. Tune in 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. noon on Wednesdays to Jett Fuel with Jess and Mondays noon to 2 p.m. to The Dizzyverse with Cy.
Listen to the live stream https://umaine.edu/wmeb/listen-now/.