Thomas Wolfe said you can’t go home again, but you can definitely go back to college. Even though Bristol-based band Rendition didn’t technically go to Roger Williams University, the home of the Hawks will host the musical group during alumni weekend June 12-14.
Rendition is a self-described “acoustic journey through electric hits” band, performing unplugged versions of famous songs sans electricity. Renowned musicians hold that they know a song is strong when it sounds good performed on an acoustic guitar, in its bare and raw form. Rendition’s covers of Pearl Jam’s “Black,” U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” and Hall & Oates “Sara Smile” strip the songs to their core and show just how strongly they hold up (and are available for listening on their Facebook page.)
“All of us through the years have played in many electric groups,” lead singer/guitarist Dean DePalma says. “Eric Leffingwell (Bass-Vocals) and Eric Komiega (Percussion-Vocals) also double as the rhythm section for local favorites Band of Brothers. I had been wanting to do something like this for a long time, a stripped down yet big sounding small group; something unique and it came together easier than I could have ever hoped. Plus, we’re all long-time friends, not just bandmates.”
In 2011, they decided to take their acoustic experiment in front of audiences, mixing their various influences in an unplugged setting. “We as a group have some common interests,” Dean says. “The Beatles are definitely one that stands out, but the diversity in musical taste from each of us always keeps new song suggestions interesting and challenging for sure.”
Whether a musician performs covers or originals, the most important thing is that they have a creative outlet to express themselves. Within a cover band, you have two options: to try and capture a song’s original sound, or to add your own flavor to it (311 covering The Cure’s “Love Song,” Johnny Cash doing NIN’s “Hurt,” etc.). Rendition opts for the latter. “It’s all cover material, but not paint by the numbers so to speak,” Dean says. “We put our own spin on things.”
Beyond the alumni show, Rendition is keeping busy. “One of our favorite shows is the Bristol 4th of July Concert Series, which we’ll be playing alongside Band of Brothers on Father’s Day Sunday June 21,” Dean says. “It’s our 3rd consecutive year and a huge honor always.
“We aren’t RWU alumni, but some of us do have relatives that have attended or work for RWU,” he says. Roger Williams holds their alumni weekend annually and in addition to entertainment it includes shopping (time to throw out that old stained hoodie and get a new one), reunion socials and food...
Oh, the food. There will be plenty of food events to satisfy us all, including a clam cakes and chowdah reception, a steak and lobster dinner and a beer and wine tasting (now if that doesn’t take you back to college days...). On Saturday at midnight, there’s even a late night pizza party. And then on the last morning, there’s an alumni breakfast.
Accommodations are made available to alumni; the new North Campus Residence Hall has 350 beds, and the college is offering lodging experiences ranging from room-mating to private stays. The building has both suites and apartments, and alumni are offered the chance to see how much dorm life has changed since they attended.
In addition to all this they’re holding several community events, such as a golf tournament, a Clean the Bay service project and even a campus scavenger hunt, because you want to find what’s hidden in the dark corners of college dorms.
Even if you didn’t attend RWU, you can get in a collegiate spirit while celebrating the best of the Bay – and Rendition will provide the perfect soundtrack for which to do so.
RWU Alumni Weekend June 12-14
Bristol 4th of July Concert Series June 20-July 3