WERS hosts concert in celebration of 60th year

by Beacon Staff • March 18, 2009

Audience members who had trickled out during the first three performances of the WERS 60th anniverary concert rushed back in as the final artist performing, Pete Yorn, was introduced.

As Yorn and his band emerged from the side of the stage, and cheers erupted.

"This is a celebration," he said, and then launched into his first song.

Music artists Ryan Montbleau, Will Dailey, JJ Grey and Mofro, along with Yorn, performed at the Cutler Majestic Theater on Sunday to celebrate the radio station's anniversary.

The concert was organized by WERS management staff, including program manager Sam Citron and music director John Parsons. Montbleau and Dailey performed free of charge.

"They're friends of the station," said Citron. "They were happy to do it for us."

Parsons was able to book JJ Grey and Mofro, who Citron said were very willing to perform after WERS's support of the band's last record.

The concert was the second part of an all-day WERS event. It began with "All A Cappella Live at the Majestic 2009" in the afternoon featuring the MIT Logarhythms, the Harvard Lowkeys, the Wellesley College BlueNotes, the UMass Amherst Doo Wop Shop, the Wellesley College Tupelos, the MIT Chorallaries, and the Brandeis VoiceMale. The concert took place in the evening.

"This is a huge milestone," Parsons said, during the show. "Artists like Ryan have been driving this station for us for 60 years."

Montbleau opened the show and played four songs on the acoustic guitar, including "I Can't Wait" and "75 and Sunny."

The stage was then taken by Will Dailey and his band the Rivals, who suffered brief technical difficulties when their microphones failed to work.

"I always sing this when things go really bad," said Dailey, who stepped out in front of the microphones and played the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want."

After the microphones were fixed, he went on to play the rest of his set.

The set included a song titled "Allston," where Dailey and his band live.

"It is a pleasure to be here for WERS because WERS has been here for me," said Dailey during his performance. "It's what I listen to in the car."

JJ Grey and Mofro appeared next. The band played eight songs, including "Brighter Days" and "Ybor City."

Yorn and his new band, who performed for the first time at the WERS concert, took the stage last. The group played 12 songs, including "Rock Crowd" and "The Man."

The station, which was created in 1949, has moved its premises three or four times, Citron said.

The station's material has also varied over the years, from focusing on news to playing a lot of classical music. However, WERS has always supported Boston's local bands, Citron said.

WERS was nominated for best national college radio station by the MTVu Woodie Awards in 2008 and has been chosen as Princeton Review's most popular college radio station on campus almost every year since 2002, only being unseated once in 2007.

WERS also has a long history of producing successful graduates.

"We have alum who are on the air all over the country," said Citron.

Future events for the radio station include a local music week on the station from March 30 to April 3, during which 30 local bands will play live in the WERS studio.

A membership drive will begin in April, when listeners call in and pledge money to the station, which depends on listener contribution for half of its operating budget.

Donators will receive a T-shirt or CD from the station. The station usually makes as much as $120,000 during the week, Citron said.

The station also plans to be involved in the Newport Folk Festival this summer, which it sponsored last year.

Citron said the station also hopes to host more concerts in the future.

"We've always sponsored shows, but never put on one ourselves," he said.