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Alumni Band Coming Back to Where it All Started
By Renata Krach
This year’s Hawktober Weekend has a number of exciting new additions, many of which will be taking place at a large tent on the Campus Green donated by Liberty Mutual. One of the must-see events is a free concert by the alumni band Bronze Radio Return, on Friday, Oct. 18, at 7:30 p.m. in the Liberty Mutual tent.
"We’re very excited to be featured at University of Hartford’s Hawktober Weekend,” say the band members. “It's great to know we're ending our national tour with a show where it all started. Our first show ever was on campus for Spring Fling! We're proud to say we're from Hartford and The Hartt School, and we enjoy staying active with the University and its events."
Four of the six members of Bronze Radio Return are graduates of the University of Hartford. Chris Henderson '07, on lead vocals and guitar, is a graduate of The Hartt School and the band’s founder. In college, he would travel frequently between Hartford and Long Island, playing music with friends at open mic nights and in their garages. Together, they had the crazy idea to start a band. Both of Henderson’s parents are also alums of the University.
Two other band members also graduated from Hartt — drummer and vocalist Rob Griffith '07 and keyboardist Matt Warner '06. Bassist Bob Tanen '08 is a graduate of the College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture (CETA) with a BSE in acoustics and music. Together with Patrick Fetkowitz on lead guitar and Craig Struble on harmonica and banjo, they teamed up in 2008 to begin their musical journey.
At a show in New York City, Bronze Radio Return met producer Doug Derryberry, who helped them create their first extended play recording. In 2009, the band traveled to Nashville to record with producer Chad Copelin. The resulting ten-song album, Old Time Speaker, charted in the College Music Journal Top 200 List. After performing for President Obama in Bridgeport, Conn., in 2010, they traveled with Copelin to Norman, Okla. There, they continued to define their sound with their 2011 album, Shake! Shake! Shake!.
All of the band members have been influenced by the music they heard during their childhoods. Henderson fondly remembers listening to jazz, blues, and American folk on his father’s bronze radio he kept in his Maine art studio. The band is a return, or homage, to the past, reflected in their new creations. The band also draws much of their inspiration from small-town warmth and neighborliness, and their experiences in the Midwest feature heavily in Shake! Shake! Shake! Their sound continues to evolve the more they travel. Up, On & Over, their latest album, was recorded in the farm town of Louisa, Va. Their single Further On was featured in a number of venues before the album’s official release, including the Pandora Premiers series and a 2013 FedEx Cup commercial.
A number of companies have licensed Bronze Radio Return’s songs for use in commercials and ad campaigns, including, but not limited to, Hollister, American Eagle, Behr Paint, and the Nissan Leaf campaign. Several songs have also been featured in television shows, like American Idol and 90210. Despite this, they consider themselves to be a live band, and continue to tour and perform today.