Club & Greek

"There Are Places I Remember..."

Places I RememberWhen I was a freshman in 2016, the last thing I thought I would be doing was going on a trip out of the country with students and faculty from the music industry major (which has been spearheaded since 2013 by Joe Rapolla, professor and the Music and Theatre Chair.) I have done so much with our student run record label, Blue Hawk Records; from creating and promoting albums to putting on incredible concerts.

But fast forward to September 2019, and there I was in the United Kingdom, visiting the historic and beautiful town of London with four of my classmates as well as Professor Rapolla, Kenneth Womack, Ph.D. and Dean of The School of Humanities And Social Sciences, and Eileen Chapman, Director of the Bruce Springsteen Archives at Monmouth University.

Upon landing in Heathrow, we took a tour of London, mainly centered on British pop music acts like The Beatles (but more on that later!) My colleagues and I were astonished when we had the opportunity to go inside the famous Abbey Road studios, a place normally closed to the public. The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and even movie score writers such as John Williams have cut some of the most impressive pieces of music ever conceived in the rooms where I stood. I have never been in such awe of a place.

Buckingham Palace was another incredible sight we visited. I was dwarfed by the scale and impressive design of the Queen’s abode. London itself is a beautiful town, with or without the culture; it was truly the architecture, the river, the London Eye, and every little shop and street corner which amazed me. We visited Bravado, a merchandising company under Universal Music Group where we met with real music industry experts who create and provide merchandise for some of the world’s biggest artists. It was a great experience for all of us to experience a side of the industry many people do not see.

Even greater than this outstanding experience was the amazing city of Liverpool, the birthplace of the Beatles. Womack is a renowned expert on The Beatles and currently teaches a class about the band at Monmouth. This trip was an opportunity for his students to experience the Beatles’ story in the places it happened. After a stunning train ride through the wide open countryside of the U.K., we arrived in the once depressed but now bustling and modern city of Liverpool. We toured past Penny Lane and saw the inspirations for the lyrics of the famous hit single.

We went to the legendary Casbah Club in the basement of (former Beatles’ drummer) Pete Best’s past home; here, The Beatles played shows with other local Liverpool acts as a young band. We explored the childhood homes of both Lennon and McCartney. We saw where they sat, where they ate, where they slept, and most importantly, where they wrote together; the cozy yet pleasant front parlor in McCartney’s house. I was even able to play a piano in the house McCartney himself played. To touch the keys which were touched by a hero of mine was an honor, and an experience many fans may never get to have.

We also attended a music tourism conference at the British Music Experience, a museum in Liverpool which houses relics and tells stories from the U.K’s storied pop music past. Here, we saw presentations on how music tourism works in places all around the world, and it was one of the most interesting educational experiences of the whole trip. Of course, Womack and Chapman gave their own presentation about music tourism in New Jersey centered on Springsteen, and it was great to get the word out about our little state to an international audience.

I could not have asked for a better experience for my first time out of the country. I met and spoke with people who lived through some of the most important moments in our history and culture, made connections with real people from the industry, became closer with my classmates and faculty, and overall, had my heart stolen by the beauty and welcoming nature of the U.K.

PHOTO COURTESY of Joe Rapolla