By Daniela Olariu
Exams are quickly approaching and final assignments are due, but that didn’t stop students from going out to the Battle of the Bands hosted by Musicians@Ryerson at the Imperial on March 20.
“I didn’t expect as much of a turn out as we got tonight,” said Justin Bellmore, one of the organizers of the show and the social chairman of Musicians@Ryerson. “Our group strives to create social networking for musicians who don’t have an outlet. It allows them to get together with other musicians, create bands and move up from there.”
Musicians@Ryerson, the only music-related student group on campus, was created two years ago by musician and drummer Eli Vandersluis, now a fourth-year mechanical engineering student. He said he felt that Ryerson offered respectable music liberal courses and professors, but it lacked a community to help musicians come together.
“I figured if there was no community, I might as well make a community and that’s what I did,” said Vandersluis, who also helped organize the event.
The Lifers, a duo comprised of two sisters, was awarded the top spot out of the six groups that performed during the evening.
Musicians@Ryerson has become increasingly popular since its creation. Their Facebook group has grown to nearly 700 members and events such as the weekly “Mike Nights” have been vital for shaping Ryerson’s musical community. This year’s Battle of the Bands saw approximately 80 audience members, said Vandersluis.
“It feels like there is a really vibrant music scene happening and it just goes to show how much everyone really wanted something like this at Ryerson,” he said. “It’s a powerful way to meet people and build relationships.”
Michael O’Leary, Ryerson student and lead guitarist for THE HIPSTERS_95, who played at the event, said he enjoys how versatile the group has become and hopes that Ryerson might be recognized for music someday.
“This group is a great opportunity and I love sharing what we’ve worked on for such a long time with others,” he said.
Paul Swoger-Ruston, a composer and music professor at Ryerson who served as one of the judges, said he believes that Musicians@Ryerson students have great passion and potential.
“We need more music programs and a proper degree at Ryerson to get students connected,” he said. “I’ve been watching musicians develop and they need to recognize how much talent and potential they have.”