Weekly Thursday Night Live (TNL) events provide opportunities for students to relax and listen or to be involved, promote themselves and perform.
Brian Burns, adviser for the Student Center Activity Board (SCAB) and manager of Rinnova, created today’s version of TNL.
Since 2004, musical events called Acoustic Fires were held a few times a semester in the Hive, but Burns said they were very random. So in 2007, right after he assumed his current position, he and the other members of SCAB came up with an idea they called “interruptions.” Interruptions took the coffee-shop-performance concept from Acoustic Fires and made it a weekly event on Thursdays.
“It’s an interruption in your week,” Burns said. “You don’t want to have it on Monday or Tuesday, because you’re just getting into your workload. Wednesday is a bad day, because people are involved in ministry and Bible study, so we thought ‘Why not Thursday be something that’s a break in your week — an interruption in your week.’”
And interruptions were the first step toward the TNL event that would come to be in 2010. Burns said that though students enjoyed the interruptions from 2007-2010, they wanted to have an event that they could be actively involved in. The combination of audience involvement and interruptions brought about Thursday Night Live.
TNL started with with trivia, Burns said, and now includes various activities ranging from storytelling to bingo.
Seven students on the SCAB Events Team organize each TNL event.
Two of those seven, Chandler Hull and Amanda Gabel, manage the team. Burns said that he has trained them to think, “What do students want to do?” Hull, Gabel and the event team members each choose at least one TNL to host throughout the year. And in addition to hosting the TNL, the team member chooses the activity involving that event’s attendees.
Hull said through choosing different TNLs, they reach out to various groups.
“We’re trying to use (TNL) this year as a springboard for different people and different groups on campus,” Hull said.
SGA and DTR are groups that have been involved in the past. Hull said this optimizes the event for students.
“That’s why we like to bring in different groups,” Hull said, “because it pulls in a different crowd that may not necessarily come to a big event.”
Though TNL has taken over the role of interruptions, don’t be deceived by the title. Thursday Night Live events simply add activities to the interruptions that have been going on since 2007.
These interruptions, performances ranging from music to magic, give students the opportunity to have a platform, Burns said. Students attending TNL get to hear from artists that they may never have heard of. In fact, Burns said, it is often these types of people, the ones you haven’t heard of, that perform the most memorable interruptions.
“Some of the ones that I really remember are the students that just – I would not know who they are,” Burns said.
Among the most unique TNLs, Burns mentioned country rapper Michael Batts. Both Gabel and Hull said Missionaries o’ Massie Creek, a bluegrass band, was memorable.
“They’re super good,” Hull said. “(They’re) a different type of music that students wouldn’t normally go for, but it really worked for TNL.”
The bluegrass group has done several TNLs, and they have been well-attended.
“That’s what I love about TNL,” Hull said. “This group of guys – they’re not particularly well-known on campus – but it was just a fun way for them to be like, this is who we are.”
Burns, Hull and Gabel also said the interruption by senior Nate Spanos (aka “Lord Dinosaur”) was one of the most unique. Hull said Spanos’ unique smattering of talent is perfect for interruptions.
Spanos said, “It is a superb opportunity for people to share their skills, and it’s also a great opportunity for people to relax.”
Burns said students are the event’s focus.
“TNL’s an event for students,” he said, “and the way that we make them work is (students) let us know what you want.”
By providing a variety of talent and activities, Gabel said TNL attracts a different audience than other SCAB-run events.
“It brings out a different crowd than an ALT night, a really eclectic group,” Gabel said.
Hull said the atmosphere with which TNL provides students is good for taking a break.
“The vibe at TNL is fun,” she said. “It’s super chill.”
Thursday Night Live: ‘Lord Dinosaur’
As soon as you hear the title “Lord Dinosaur,” you understand why Nate Spanos is one of the most unique performers TNL has ever seen.
Amanda Gabel, co-manager of the SCAB Event Team, said, “He’s extremely talented musically.”
Burns said Spanos has many followers, and he enjoys Spanos’ unique performance.
But what makes shows with “Lord Dinosaur” so unique?
Spanos said, “What I choose to do for interruptions depends on where I am in life.”
For Spanos, this factor is huge, especially since his life has changed so much while at Cedarville.
A senior now, Spanos did not become a Christian until two years ago. Therefore, his latest TNLs have been a little different than those that he did before.
“My old approach just wasn’t sufficient,” he said.
Because of that, Spanos said he tried some new things this semester. He had already done slam poetry, storytelling, original music, covers and other things. This time, he again brought a variety, but he chose his material differently.
“I tried to follow God’s leading on which songs to perform,” Spanos said. “This time was the first time it really was about Jesus.”
After praying extensively about this performance, Spanos ended up with two original songs with piano and voice (he also brought a band to accompany him); a Josh Garrels cover; “Be Thou My Vision;” a thank you song with an accordion and band; and a few original raps.
Spanos said these songs – especially the Josh Garrels cover – were important to him during the TNL.
“I thought it would be ideal to encourage (my Christian audience) in some way through the things that I selected and the music that I played,” Spanos said. “I’m really hoping that it will be encouraging to people.”
Michael Shawn Carbaugh II is a freshman music composition major and arts and entertainment writer for Cedars. He likes to write music in nearly every genre and enjoys listening to new genres as well.