Smiles and stars out of U of C students

By James Keller

As exams, papers and the stress of the holiday season envelop students, Busking For Smiles offers a solution that works not only for fans of live music, but performers too.

"Our two motives in the club are to let people smile and let people do what they’re good at," says co-organizer Lance Farkas. "These two motives have been achieved with Unplugged."

Unplugged II, the follow up to last year’s BFS event held in March, features eight campus musicians playing original work with local musician Tariq closing the evening. According to Farkas, although more musicians–eight compared to last year’s four–may give musicians less time on stage, it will enhance the experience for the audience.

"We kind of refer to it as a smorgasbord of local talent," says Farkas. "We have artists that play folk,
alternative and pop-classical stuff. Since there’s only a couple songs per performer, it’s a little bit of everything."

The first four artists will have one song each, while the last four will each play two. Limiting each musician’s playing time was necessary given the enormous response BFS received from interested performers.

"This year we took a big step and we had a massive campus-wide poster campaign," says Farkas about the initial process. "We had three auditions and 17 people audition. It was super hard to pick because the talent was overwhelming."

Of course, while Tariq will play more than two songs, Farkas emphasizes that the main focus of the event is still on the local musicians.

"For the students that play and for the audience, it’s interesting to see the metamorphosis from a student-songwriter to a professional," he says, adding that he hopes audiences will come to appreciate the growth process. "The show isn’t supposed to feature Tariq. It’s supposed to allow the performers to see how professionals do it and perform on the same stage as them."

Regardless of how the inclusion of Tariq is received by audiences, the next Unplugged event, slated for February of next semester, will most likely not have another headliner.

"If things go as planned with Unplugged III, there’s so much talent that we’ll have all student performers," says Farkas.

Even though students will see quality live music, the fact that the audience and performers are both peers within the school also adds an interesting dynamic.

"It’s really neat because we had students watching students," says Farkas, referring to last year’s Unplugged. "People say, ‘hey, I saw that guy walking down the hall the other day and he’s in my science class, but he’s also an awesome artist, too. That’s what makes it special. You have students paying for students and put on by students, so it works three ways."


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