Expansion of Benson Brew gains popularity among students

(L-R) Jake Hagood, Todd Osborne and Corey Kenerly perform at the Valentine's Benson Brew in February. (Photo by Erin Gardner)

By Jacob Perry

What started as a small coffee shop-like venue for musicians on campus nearly four years ago has now turned into an all-out concert performance.

Benson Brew, a student music showcase at Trevecca, has more than doubled its audience since its expansion two years ago thanks to a new format.

James Thurman, current freshman and Residence Hall Association Student Advisor at TNU, attributes some of the Brew’s growth to changes in its location.

In previous years, the venue for Benson Brew was the basement of Benson, the only male dormitory on campus.

“It made it harder for the event to grow due to space limitations,” Thurman said.

In addition to more space, the event can now accommodate full bands with lights, professional sound and an environment suitable to entertain the differences within the individual artists.

When the Brew was held in the small setting of the male dorm’s basement, the performances were limited only to acoustic sets. The current balance of acoustic and electric sets has a much wider range of appeal.

Performers are also happy with the changes.

“The Brew has evolved from an intimate coffee shop setting to feeling more like a professional concert with lighting and great sound. There is more reverence for the artist as well as higher expectations of their music in a concert setting,” said Jake Hagood, a veteran performer of the Benson Brew.

The most recent Benson Brew, which took place this past February, was held in the Boone Convocation Center on TNU’s campus. The Convocation Center provided plenty of room to Thurman’s post-event estimate of 290 attendees.

Students who attended the event in the past said it’s one of their favorite events on campus.

“I enjoy the Benson Brew because it is very intimate and original whereas a lot of other events on campus tend not to be,” Holly Dodd, a freshman and member of a previous Brew audience, said.

Admission to the event is free, unlike many events on campus, and that also adds to the Brew’s popularity, Thurman said.

“We feel that our residents already have to pay for so much on campus,” he said. “They deserve a night of relaxation and fun for free.”

Thurman said that the Benson Brew, in just two years, has come a long way from attendance in the 100s.

He said last year’s student leadership in the RHA was driven by people who wanted to see the Brew grow, and that is what blazed the trail for the Brew’s present success as a major campus event.

The event’s popularity increase also creates a higher demand for quality artists.  The Trevecca RHA is planning to be more selective of the artists they choose to play at the Benson Brew. RHA, according to Thurman, plans to start holding auditions for artists who wish to play, and only TNU’s top-talent will earn a spot on the set list.

Thurman is hopeful that the Brew will continue to gain popularity.

“I think at this point I see Benson Brew becoming part of the Trevecca tradition,” Thurman said.

The next Benson Brew is scheduled for April 29th. Thurman said the date for auditions has not yet been determined, but because of a number of requests from students, the event has been moved back to Benson. Thurman hopes, weather permitting, the Brew will take place outside of the dormitory so space limitations will not be an issue.

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