Now making their way in the world of folk-rock, two young alumni credit Stonehill with helping them get started in the music business.
Part of the group The Ballroom Thieves, singer/songwriter Martin Earley ’10 and percussionist Devin Mauch ’11 met through the College’s music scene— open-mic nights at The Hill, Brother Mike’s, and student-run music nights in the senior courts.
A Philosophy and Foreign Languages double-major, Earley began writing and performing his own songs while still a student. His songwriting eventually caught the ear of percussionist Mauch, a psychology and fine arts double major.
Today, as their tour company New Frontier describes it, they are taking “the narrative blueprint of folk music and infusing it with the attitude of rock, the soul of blues, and the sweat and fervor of a revival tent.” Moreover, their group, the Ballroom Thieves, is gaining regional and national acclaim. Their releases to date include 2012’s The Devil And The Deep, and 2013’s self-titled EP, the Thieves. The band’s influences include the bands Darlingside, Tall Heights, The Ghost of Paul Revere and Caroline Rose
“We started collaborating at the beginning of his (Earley’s) senior year at all the major music-related events on campus with me accompanying him on drums and vocals,” Mauch said.
The duo had one music class together, but it was an impactful one with Assistant Professor of Visual and Performing Arts Lisa Redpath. The course was called Musical Instruments of the World.
“That class expanded my mind (regarding) the realm of possibilities out there for creating sound. It pushed me to not feel limited by what’s ‘normal’ in our society with music-making,” said Mauch, adding that he “took all of the piano courses offered by the College at the time.”
Campus Music Scene
“Stonehill played a significant role in who I am today,” said Earley. “I loved having the freedom to explore my own academic interests. While Stonehill isn't really known for its music program, that doesn't mean that resources don’t exist for students to follow their musical ambitions. The many open-mics and club-organized events — along with the music classes and orchestral programs foster a tight-knit and supportive community of musicians and music lovers.”
Both musicians mentioned Lina Macedo — Assistant Director of Student Activities for Campus Programs— for promoting and supporting their musical interests from the start.
Still, neither knew they wanted to perform professionally until the summer of 2010 when they toured the U.S. When the duo met cellist Calin Peters at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge three years ago, the current folk-rock trio was born.
“That trip really changed my life,” said Mauch. “I needed to experience playing music for strangers who knew nothing about us. I needed to travel and see what was out West and down South. My eyes were opened to a lot of beautiful inspiration on that trip. My heart and mind were set after that journey: This is what I wanted to do.”
This year, The Ballroom Thieves are on tour with stops in Connecticut, New York, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia.
And, in early January, the band was nominated for Roots Act of the Year by the New England Music Awards. For more on the group, visit ballroomthieves.com.
Just recently, the group also announced it would be playing at this year's Boston Calling Music Festival in May.