Local Current Blog

Hamline University’s Winter WonderJam returns for a second year with Smallpools, Step Rockets, Yonas

Winter WonderJam 2014, Tyler Mumm photograph used with permission. Below: Winter Wonder Wagon, via Hamline University Programming Board on Facebook.

On Saturday, Hamline University is hosting their second annual Winter WonderJam concert, after long preparations. Although for some it may just be a concert, for those involved in the planning, it is a labor of love.

Last February marked the first-ever Winter WonderJam, at which both Konstant Movement and Brother Ali performed. What became the biggest campus concert of the year started out as nothing more than a late-night “what if” conversation between two sophomore students, Racey Rodne and Charlie Shafer. According to Shafer, they realized the need for an annual campus concert and set out to put “Hamline on the map musically.”

It took the cooperation of several campus organizations to transform this idea into a reality. Winter WonderJam is a combined effort by HU Radio, the university’s Programming Board, and the Undergraduate Student Congress. The committee itself is made up of student DJs and Programming Board members. Leading the committee is Lacey Squier, coordinator of campus programs.

One of the first steps in planning a campus concert is, obviously, choosing the performers. The headliner for this year is indie-pop band Smallpools, with openers Yonas and Minneapolis based Step Rockets. Typically the committee picks the musicians, but this year Hamline students had a hand in picking opener Yonas through an online survey. According to Squier, the goal when choosing artists is to balance students’ wish list with the concerns of the university’s administration. Ultimately, though, she said it’s “about what the students want.”

Pleasing the student population is an important aspect of planning the concert, although they aren’t the only targeted audience. The concert isn’t just for students: it’s open to the public. The committee wants it to be a campus event, but also serve the larger local community.

That fact makes ticket sales a bit challenging. This year, there are not only paper tickets being sold on campus, but also online ticket sales as well, a new strategy implemented this year. The goal is to offer more convenient ticket purchasing because, as Squier confessed, “we have no idea what we’ll get in terms of turnout.”

To combat this, the committee has turned to innovative marketing strategies. One example was a tricked-out golf cart, christened the Winter Wonder Wagon, that was driven around campus offering students rides to class. Overall, preparations been more organized this year. As committee member Afua Paintsil explains, it “just comes with second year territory—you definitely have to have more grace with the first year.”

The committee has high aspirations for the continued success of Winter WonderJam and a strong sense of pride in the caliber of concert they plan to put on. As Shafer explains, it’s “a sense of accomplishment: despite everything college students have to do, we can still put on a concert on top of it.”

Rodne said he wants the concert to become “a tradition, a Hamline tradition.”

Winter WonderJam, an all-ages event, will be held in Hamline’s Anderson Center on Saturday, Feb 21. Doors open at 7:30 with performances starting at 8:oo. Tickets can be purchased online for $15. Tickets won’t be available at the door.

Lillian Speakman is a student at Hamline University. She’s a reporter for Hamline’s newspaper The Oracle and a DJ for HU Radio.