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 Collection
Identifier: NJ004

New Brunswick Music Scene Archive

Dates

  • Majority of material found within 1981-present

Scope and Content Note

The New Brunswick Music Scene Archive materials date from 1981 to present. The collection is made up of paper format, audiovisual, and ephemeral materials. The collection is arranged into nine record series: FLYERS AND POSTERS, SET LISTS, PUBLICATIONS, FRITCH CLARK AND THE LAST BASTIONS OF ROCK, PRESS CLIPPINGS, EPHEMERA, NEW BRUNSWICK MUSIC SCENE ARCHIVE, PHOTOGRAPHS, and SOUND RECORDINGS.

The FLYERS AND POSTERS are arranged by venue and contains a number of handmade originals, flyers from basement shows, well-known venues throughout New Brunswick, and shows at Rutgers University. PUBLICATIONS consists of commercially printed magazines and books about the music scene, as well as a subseries of zines. The FRITCH CLARK AND THE LAST BASTIONS OF ROCK series is made up of the research materials that Fritch Clark collected to create his 2015 documentary The Last Bastions of Rock. The documentary focuses on music venues throughout New Jersey with a particular focus on the New Brunswick music scene. PRESS CLIPPINGS is made up of press materials from local New Brunswick bands and also news clippings. The EPHEMERA series contains business cards, buttons, matchbooks, patches, shopping bags, stickers, and T-shirts.

The NEW BRUNSWICK MUSIC SCENE ARCHIVE series consists of materials regarding the founding of this archive. Flyers and press clippings make up a majority of this series. PHOTOGRAPHS are of New Brunswick based bands, shows, and venues. The SOUND RECORDINGS series is made of 12" vinyl records, 7" vinyl records, compact discs, cassettes, tape cartridges, and acetate discs. Recordings are from New Brunswick bands. Some of these recordings came from WRSU, the non-commercial college radio station broadcasting from Rutgers University.

Extent

5 cubic foot

Language of Materials

English

Acquisition Information

The New Brunswick Music Scene Archive is and active collection comprised of donations of materials. Materials in this collection have been donated by:
  1. Frank Bridges
  2. Bryan Bruden
  3. Fritch Clark
  4. Adam Dickinson
  5. Greg Di Gesu
  6. Rick Dillenberger
  7. Rachel Ferrante
  8. Brian Goad
  9. Jeff Hersch
  10. James Hodges
  11. Pete Horvath
  12. Gary Kaplan
  13. Ronen Kauffman
  14. Sandor Kekesi
  15. Eddie Konczal
  16. Bob Makin
  17. Marc Mazique
  18. Derik Moore
  19. John Mulez
  20. Anthony Palma
  21. Geoffrey Pape
  22. Marissa Paternoster
  23. T. Penn
  24. Mike Polilli
  25. Alex Saville
  26. Amy Saville
  27. Alex Sentenat
  28. John Simek
  29. Andrew Spina
  30. John Terry
  31. Dave Urbano
  32. WRSU

Abstract

The New Brunswick Music Scene Archive documents the rock music scene in New Brunswick, New Jersey from 1981 to present. The collection is comprised of flyers, set lists, publications, press clippings, ephemera and sound recordings relating to shows and bands who were based in New Brunswick. The collection also contains information about the founding of the archive in 2015 and includes press clippings and flyers from events.

History of the New Brunswick Music Scene

New Brunswick, New Jersey, is an historic city with a rich and diverse connection to music, from the days when Rutgers students no doubt sang tavern songs at the Sign of the Red Lion, which was, in the 1770s, the first meeting place for Rutgers University classes. Throughout the 19th century, the Hub City boasted numerous theaters, an opera house, music shops, local and traveling musicians, musical associations such as the New Brunswick Band, and the largest musical string manufacturer in the world, the National Musical String Company. In the early 1900s, the multi-talented Paul Robeson sang for spending money in cafes and taverns throughout New Brunswick. In 1964, Lenny Kaye of The Patti Smith Group played his first gig with his band The Vandals at a Rutgers fraternity.

The New Brunswick Music Scene Archive (NBMSA) was established in September of 2015 to act as a repository for the vast amount of ephemera generated from the ever-changing music scene, including various formats of music releases, show flyers, and zines. It also serves to address a gap in documentation of musical life in New Brunswick from the late 20th century through the present day, and to demonstrate the value and reach of independent, local music.

In the 1980s, New Brunswick was home to several live music venues including The Court Tavern, The Melody, and Patrix, as well as several spaces around Rutgers including The Ledge, now the Student Activities Center, the Student Center Multipurpose Room on College Avenue, and Scott Hall’s large lecture rooms. As the sounds of “college rock” began to grow in popularity with the help of college stations such as Rutgers’ WRSU, bands such as The Smithereens, Crossfire Choir, The Blasés, and Spiral Jetty began to grow in popularity and help put New Brunswick on the map. Additionally, the New Jersey hardcore scene emerged and bands such as Pleased Youth, Bouncing Souls, and Headstrong, began to call New Brunswick home, and “house party” shows for all ages began to develop.

In the early 1990s, more venues began to open throughout New Brunswick including the re-opening of The Roxy, The Bowl-A-Drome, Down Under, Club 357, and Café Newz. However, as the 1990s went on most of the New Brunswick venues began to close as the city’s landscape began to change with the growth and expansion of healthcare and corporate entities in the city and the redevelopment of the downtown. During the 1990s the price of replicating CDs, cassettes, and vinyl records became more affordable and many labels centered in New Brunswick began to form including Well Primed Records, Chunksaah Records, Model Rocket, Powerbunny 4x4 Records, and Da Da Records. Well-known bands of this time included Lifetime, Deadguy, Buzzkill, Bionic Rhoda, and Seething Grey.

By the end of the 1990s the New Brunswick basement shows, held in off-campus student rentals, began to take off and the 2000s ushered in the “New Brunswick basement scene” and brought national attention to The Hub City with bands like Thursday, Screaming Females, and The Gaslight Anthem. Don Giovanni Records, founded in 2003 in New Brunswick, became the label of choice for many New Brunswick bands, is the most successful record label the city has produced, signing bands beyond New Brunswick and New Jersey.

Related Collections

New Jersey Zine Collection, NJ010, 2016-present. Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries.

Jersey Beat, 1982-2005. Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries. (SNCLNJ ML3533.8.J47)

General

Additional processing by Rachel Ferrante.
Title
Inventory to the New Brunswick Music Scene Archive
Status
Edited Full Draft
Author
Frank Bridges, Christie Lutz and Tara Maharjan
Date
October 2017
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.
Sponsor
Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.

Part of the New Brunswick Special Collections Repository