The members of Bronze Radio Return, a rock band that includes four University of Hartford alumni, have come a long way since Spring Fling 2008. Six years after that performance, the first of their career, they landed spots in some of the biggest shows of the summer festival season, such as Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. They will be playing in lineups that include Elton John, Kanye West, Eminem, and Outkast.
Lead singer and guitarist Chris Henderson ‘07, drummer Rob Griffith ‘07, keyboardist Matthew Warner ’06, and bassist Bob Tannen ’08 were students in the University’s The Hartt School. Tannen also attended the College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture. (Lead guitarist Patrick Fetkowitz and harmonica/banjoist Craig Struble round out the group.) They returned to campus this past Hawktober Weekend and were excited to be back where it all began.
“I think the most important thing is we met each other through different classes and different experiences, we got to know each other, and we got to start this band,” said Tannen of their time at the University.
“[Hartt] taught us a lot about musicianship, as well as the technical and business sides of what we are doing,” added Griffth. “We built a network of people we could rely on for things throughout the years.”
Even if you do not own Bronze Radio Return’s debut EP or three full-length albums, you’ve likely heard their music. The song “Shake! Shake! Shake!” was featured in commercials for Nissan Leaf and Behr Paint/Home Depot. HBO, ESPN, NBC, MTV, the CW, "American Idol," ABC Family, and USA also licensed their music.
“We’ve been really fortunate to have our music used in a lot of TV and film, and also made some real traction at radio,” Henderson said in an interview for Bronze Radio Return’s website. “But this band is first and foremost a live band.”
Connecticut fans don’t have to travel far to see the band this summer. They hit the stage at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven on Sunday, June 22, and the Gathering of the Vibes in Bridgeport at the beginning of August.
The band members have some advice for University of Hartford students hoping to make it big in the music business.
"Keeping an open mind musically is important," Griffith recommended. "If you asked us five or six years ago what kind of music we'd be playing at this point in our lives, we might have said something different or we might not have known. I think through keeping an open mind and pursuing things that we all really liked got us to where we are now."