The sound that started on a set of drums in the basement of Streeter Hall will travel over the campus once again during the Class of 1990’s 25th Dartmouth Reunion.
Five of the six early members of the band Second Hand Jam will play hits such as Brown Eyed Girl, Gimme Three Steps, and Is She Really Going Out With Him on June 19 as part of Dartmouth Reunions.
For their first rehearsal, the band gathered at the home of professional jazz musician Joel Newton '90 in Nyack, New York on May 30 to play together for the first time in 25 years. Some of the members hadn’t seen one another since Commencement 1990. Steve Linde '90 of San Francisco, the one band member from outside the Northeast, participated via Facetime.
“It was like time-travel to the late 80s—we fell into the same conversations and made the same snarky comments,” says Brad Drazen ’90, one of the band’s two singers and a member of the Class of 1990 25th Reunion Committee. “It felt good. It makes it feel like it’s the right decision—I hope members of the class have the same nostalgic feeling about it.”
Looking back to the fall of 1986, their freshman year, Drazen credits the founding of the band to the late George “Gus” Conrades ’90, who died in a motorcycle accident in 2001.
“Gus would play his drums in the basement of Streeter Hall and I heard him from the second floor,” says Drazen. “The band was formed from the people who showed up to listen to that rock and soul drumbeat. People came to him.” Singer Rob Crawford ’90 says, “Gus was the manager, the driving force, and the energy source for all of us.”
After they formed, Second Hand Jam quickly became popular and played gigs nearly every weekend at fraternity parties, campus events, and they even played “on the road” at Mount Holyoke and Amherst College. “We all shared a passion for music, creating a great sound, and entertaining people,” says Crawford. “We found a zone and together we created magic.”
Following one more rehearsal during Reunions, the band will work to create that magic again. Tom Thompson '90 a member of another Dartmouth band from tha era, is the new drummer. "Tom graciously agreed to step in," says Drazen. "He's phenomenal and a wonderful guy and he's as excited about getting back together as any of us."
Thompson is also poet and author of The Pitch. Indeed, other than jazz musician Newton, the band members pursue an eclectic mix of non-musical careers such as a television news anchor (Drazen), an investment-banking firm director (Realuyo), a software engineering company vice president (Linde), and an independent school marketing director (Crawford). Crawford, co-class secretary of the Class of 1990, has also received some acclaim for his role as vice president of Red Sox Nation.
Regardless of current careers, or the duration that’s passed since graduating, Meg Sommerfeld ’90 says she plans on being transported to her 21-year-old self when she listens to Second Hand Jam at her Dartmouth Reunion.
“I can’t wait to hear the band again, and I’ll be dancing,” says Sommerfeld, chair of the Class of 1990 25th Reunion Committee.
She adds, “With my own kids heading off to college in just a few years, I hope they find time, wherever they go, to dance and sing out loud to campus bands, and otherwise to stop and smell the roses during their undergraduate years.”