A typical afternoon at Union Court in the Memorial Union Building at UNH is full of chaos, with students shuffling through lines to order lunch, filling the room of tables to chat with friends and work on homework. However, Wednesday afternoons are a little different.
The Memorial Union and Student Activities sector Commuter Student Services hosts weekly “Live Music / Novelties Wednesdays,” featuring performances by musical artists or novelty events on the small stage in Union Court.
This past Wednesday featured 26-year-old, British bassist Charles Berthoud who entertained the crowd with an array of covers, medleys and original songs.
Curt Kenoyer, coordinator of Commuter Student Services, explained that commuter and non-traditional students often miss out on entertainment opportunities on campus.
“The whole idea behind it is that commuters, which encompasses all non-traditional students, miss out on entertainment because of their inability to stay late, when most concerts happen,” Kenoyer said. “So, Wednesdays provide an opportunity for entertainment and novelty events to be accessible in the afternoon.”
Past events have included performances from singer-songwriters and instrumentalists as well as internet “meme” mug decorating, word art canvas making and even the distribution of DIY bamboo.
With the hustle and bustle of the students often unintentionally distracting from the talent, Kenoyer understands that Union Court is an unconventional venue for most musicians.
However, this wasn’t Berthoud’s first college show. It wasn’t his first show at UNH either; in fact, he had previously performed last year for a Live Music Wednesday.
Throughout his whole set, Berthoud cheekily interacted with the audience. He asked questions that went unanswered amidst the room of buzzing college students such as, “does anyone have any… lunch recommendations?”
Covering artists from Stevie Wonder to Ed Sheeran, Berthoud makes an effort to pick cover songs that keep his audience engaged.
“Because I play the entire song just on my bass, it takes lots of effort and time to prepare,” Berthoud said. “I like doing classic songs because they never get old, so learning them is worth it, however I do always learn some modern songs, especially when I play at colleges.”
Students could be seen humming and singing along to the unique renditions of popular songs.
“I often forget that the MUB puts on live music but it’s such a nice change to the atmosphere,” junior communications major Jake Garner said. “This guy is a bass wizard and we are being serenaded by his talent. I think it is nice to just get work done while also having music that isn’t pop top 20 songs that they play on repeat, instead there is a simultaneous connection between the artist and the crowd and both can enjoy it.”
After graduating from Berklee School of Music, multi-instrumentalist Berthoud has continued pursuing a solo career in music. He uses his mastery of the two-handed tapping bass technique, live-looping and a recent introduction of experimentation with beatboxing to bring his one-man bass band act to stages across the country.
“My goal is to produce some really big songs and to do exactly what I’m doing now, but to a bigger audience,” Berthoud said.
Berthoud’s self-produced second solo album, released in 2018, “Infinity” features original material as well as a handful of covers including Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and a cover of the track “Classical Thump” from his own personal inspiration, American bassist Victor Wooten.
With a full devotion to music, Berthoud is not only in the process of composing new material for upcoming tours and future projects, but also working to produce and record material for other artists as well.
“The whole experience [at UNH] was great, especially being greeted by such nice and friendly people,” Berthoud said.
Commuter Student Services continues to provide more opportunities for student engagement on Live Music / Novelties Wednesdays, with upcoming acts including singer/songwriter Elijan Man on March 27 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and Tarot Card Readers with Fun Enterprises on April 10 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.