The South Side Cafe in Faber Hall buzzed with the excitement of students who were eager to spend their Saturday night listening to blues, soul and jazz music performed by latest New York spotlight, Michael Drabik.
The South Side Cafe opened its doors on Oct. 15 at 10 p.m. for students to create sand art, eat food and have some coffee while listening to Drabik’s relaxing and innovative music compilations. Inspired by musicians such as Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and John Mayer, Drabik’s music echoes their style and energy. Having performed at Fairfield in the past, Drabik was eager to return to campus.
“Three years ago, Fairfield invited me to campus and it was fantastic,” said Drabik. “I like to see students returning to hear me play year after year as I’ve grown as a singer.”
It wasn’t until Drabik entered college that he was introduced to the world of music. He explained that his college roommate played the bass, which he thought was really interesting. That ultimately inspired him to immerse himself into the musical genres of jazz and soul.
Known for energetic performances, Drabik did not disappoint Fairfield students due to his dedication to intricate guitar work and expressive lyrics. Sophomore Tom McDonough attended the performance hoping to have an easy-going Saturday night.
“I like how the music is really calm and relaxing, especially during this part of the year when there are midterms and other stressful things happening in classes; this music kind of takes it all away,” said McDonough.
Sophomore Kristen Yost also attended the performance and enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere that Drabik provided.
“The music played at South Side was calming to listen to and brought a good vibe to the rest of my Saturday night,” said Yost.
Fairfield@Night advertised that as a nationally renowned artist, Drabik has performed at venues including Webster Hall, The Bitter End, Rockwood Music Hall and the Bowery Electric. According to Drabik’s website, “In January 2014, he was named the Bitter End’s Singer-Songwriter Sessions ‘Artist of the Month.’ And in September 2014, Michael released a self-titled EP now available on iTunes, Spotify and Bandcamp.”
How was Fairfield fortunate enough to book such a prestigious musician? Junior Marydjina Barionnette, event manager for Fairfield@Night, explained that they were able to invite Drabik after attending a programming conference by the National Association for Campus Activities.
“Usually we run events for students who aren’t into the party scene and try to create an environment where students can just relax,” said Barionnette. “This is nice jazz music, which is really great for the atmosphere that we are trying to bring to students as they make arts and crafts and eat some food from the cafe.”
The evening’s performance also showcased saxophone player Julian Massiah and drummer Rory Duffy, who has a show coming out this winter on Amazon Prime entitled the “Marvelous Maisel.” Yost commented on how incorporating these two musicians enhanced the overall performance.
“Some songs used the saxophone and others used the guitar, which created a unique sound to each song,” said Yost.
Drabik loves performing alongside Massiah and Duffy, and later elaborated on why he continues to pursue a career in music.
“It’s just one of those passions that you just can’t shake,” said Drabik. “To a certain degree it’s like priests, where you feel like you have a certain calling, and that feeling is what keeps me going.”
McDonough was excited that Drabik, a professional musician who is making his name known in New York City, took the time to travel to Fairfield and perform his music.
“I think it’s really cool that Fairfield@Night was able to book a singer from New York whose vocation is built around music,” said McDonough.
In addition to providing a relaxing and entertaining atmosphere for students, the night also brought a sense of gratification to Drabik himself.
“People are very receptive here and it’s great to perform in a different crowd. In NYC it feels like you always have to win people over, compared to a college campus where students are just so interested,” said Drabik. “I really want to thank Fairfield for having me back. It’s cool to play nationally and still know that Fairfield is a home away from home.”