Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Local Mojo is helping build UMass’ live music scene

“The music scene that Amherst represents is the music scene that needs to stay represented”
Kira Johnson/ Daily Collegian

From local house party shows to concerts at the Drake in downtown Amherst, a new student group on campus is behind many of these recent live music events in the UMass community.

Local Mojo, an independent student-run organization, was formed with the mission of supporting and promoting up-and-coming artists on campus. It coincided with rapid growth of the student music scene at the University of Massachusetts during the spring semester 2022.

The group was started by senior marketing major Charley Blacker and junior hospitality and tourism management major Cashel Davis. The organization grew from an idea for a music advertising group that Blacker had been developing since high school, and a desire to gain experience working in the music industry.

“We just let people do what they think that they can do best to better the club, like whether it’s journalism, video, social media, music,” said Emily Donovan, a junior communications major and Local Mojo’s social media director. “We are a club that’s not only bringing light to the Amherst music scene, but also we’re giving people the opportunity to do things that they’re interested in.”

Plenty of student artists have found themselves at a loss in handling the production side of music;Local Mojo stepped in to fill that gap. Since their start, they have collaborated with many popular musicians at UMass including The Baxbys, Track Meat and The Lights. Local Mojo has helped them book shows, record live sessions and create promotional content and music videos.

Local Mojo has no shortage of campus events, ranging from house parties to Dye Up for Jayden, a fundraiser for a 13-year-old boy recently diagnosed with cancer. Their Instagram, @localmojoumass, features event schedules, videos of live events and a community-ranked “UMass Top 25” playlist featuring a wide variety of songs from associated acts.

Peter Drakos, a junior biochemistry major, is the drummer for My Friend Tony, The Lights and Daniel Blair and the Forgottens. He was enthusiastic when Local Mojo reached out to him and asked to work with his bands.

“It was like a perfect win-win because they’re focusing on marketing the product that we’re making instead of us having to do everything ourselves in terms of booking our own gigs and giving our music promotion,” he said.

The presence of a single production group has also fostered a more connected local music scene.

“When the scene started, it was, like, three or four bands playing in basements, completely separate from each other, that only became interconnected because those two or three bands started to play shows together when they realized [the others] existed. Local Mojo came in and broadcasted us to the greater UMass population,” Drakos said.

The music scene here is nothing new. UMass’ campus is where The Pixies formed, and where bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam played on some of their first tours. Jordan Havens, a senior communications major and content creator for Local Mojo, noted the group hopes to continuethat legacy through building a live music community.

“I believe the music scene that Amherst represents is the music scene that needs to stay represented. It’s that kind of punk, indie, alternative genre that people just love to be able to vibe to, whether they don’t know any of the songs, [or] whether they know all the songs. They can still go out to a venue or a show one night and sit there and hang out and socialize and meet new people,” Havens said.

As an independent club on campus, Local Mojo also has the goal of expanding to other colleges and universities that have strong music scenes and students who are dedicated to the work that they do.

“We don’t want to go through the school because we want the freedom to just work on anything we want. And do a lot of off-campus things as well, because that’s where the music scene really is: off-campus,” Blacker said.

Local Mojo welcomes any student interested in getting involved and gaining experience with the production industry and holds meetings in Herter Hall every Thursday at 6 p.m.

Kami Nguyen can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @kamihnguyen.

Cristian Clewis can be reached at [email protected].

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