South Bend Music Scene: a Small City with a Lot of Good Noise (Part I)

The Control Group playing in the Biology grad Halloween party.

In this guest post, Elvin E. Morales Pérez, Ph.D. Candidate in Biological Sciences, shares his favorite places to enjoy live music in South Bend.

Hailing from a small agricultural town in Puerto Rico, finding entertaining music-related events that didn’t involve Salsa or Reggaeton was a bit of an issue. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy getting my dance on every so often, but musical variety is an important part of a growing young man’s education. Once I moved to South Bend, however, I was very pleasantly surprised. “The Bend,” as it is more commonly known to the “Youths,” is the biggest city I have ever lived in (sad, I know) and as such, I wanted to explore everything it had to offer. It was during this process that I came to discover a very active, vibrant, and above all varied music scene in the city. Live bands, open mics, dance events, random/slightly obscure/underground house shows (like that time my band The Control Group, played an acoustic show in my garageshameless plug), and even cool roaming DJs spinning vintage vinyl from the back of a VW van (actual thing, not kidding), South Bend is just full of various things that anyone from professional or aspiring musicians to even regular music lovers would enjoy.

For all of those interested in the occasional piece of live entertainment or for those of you looking to share your musical talents with the rest of the world, I know a couple of places that you might be interested in:

 

  • Fiddler’s Hearth: South Bend’s very own local Irish pub is one of the most important musical focal points in the city with live musical events sometimes every day of the week. There is Open Irish Music Session on Mondays, Old Timey Music Sessions on Tuesdays, Acoustic Open Stage on Wednesdays, where you can play or enjoy shows by local bands playing anything from Irish folk songs to sweet, sweet funk music during the weekends. Fiddler’s is definitely a place where you’ll have a good time with some good food.

 

  • Vegetable Buddies: Veggie buddies is a place full of South Bend musical history. A musical hub in the city during the late 70’s, this prominent musical venue — which hosted some of the greats in jazz, blues, bluegrass, and Woodstock-era rock and roll — returned to South Bend in the last few years and has kept that tradition going strong. On Fridays and Saturdays, Veggie Buddies hosts artists from all over, which sometimes even open the stage for local musicians to play with them, so if you’re interested in some cool music with some good atmosphere check it out. (They also have Latin Dance Nights on Wednesdays if you want to get your groove on; variety man, wonderful stuff).

 

  • LaSalle Kitchen and Tavern: Although a little bit difficult to get to, involving a trek through the alleyway next to the building, and going up the back stairwell to the third floor (makes you feel kind of cool actually), the LaSalle Kitchen and Tavern is one of my favorite places in South Bend. Good food, good atmosphere, and above all, really cool music shows, with bands and solo artists playing most Fridays and Saturdays. One time, I heard a Spanish rock band playing which ended up hitting right in the feels, mainly because I was one of the few that actually understood the language that night, but it was still amazing.

 

  • Lang Lab: When you first look at Lang Lab from the outside you may think “this place looks like an old warehouse.” Well, the reason why this is the first thing that pops into people’s minds is that it is a warehouse, or much rather, it used to be. The owners converted the 33,000 sq. ft. building into a multi-use cultural and educational facility that hosts several local businesses (one of them a coffee shop, yay!), as well as many theater groups and musical artists. Additionally, it has its very own gallery, displaying pieces from various local artists.

 

Aside from the various places I mentioned, there are also a lot of city-wide musical events like the Riverlights Music Festival, a two-day event which takes place every summer and includes over 50 local musicians playing only original music. Remember, these are only a couple of suggestions to get you going, there are still many places and events around “The Bend” that space constraints and a lack of literary wit prevent me from telling you about. Go out, explore, and start making fun, new experiences involving awesome, weird, and funky fresh sounds.

P.S. In the next installment of “Elvin kind of talks about music stuff” I’ll talk about places where the more adventurous but not-as-musically-oriented people might want to try their luck: Karaoke bars… (*ominous thunder sounds*)

Do you have any questions about living in South Bend? Ask the Salmon! Submit your questions to gradlife@nd.edu or go to the Ask a Question tab at the top of this page.

 

 

Life and Living Well

I’ll begin by stating the obvious: grad school is hard.

As graduate students, we are familiar with the toil of prioritizing and accomplishing our to-do lists. But grad student to-do lists grow faster than grad students can work. We’ve always got a nagging feeling that we ought to be doing something productive right now.

Part of what helps us tolerate long hours of labor and high expectations is knowing that it’s temporary. Only a few years of suffering; then comes the really meaningful work. We’ll land the job we desire, and then our life can really begin.

But we spend so much of our lives in this mindset. As an undergrad, we looked forward to grad school – that’s when I’ll finally get to do what I really want! And as high-schoolers, we looked forward to college – finally, a chance to be out on my own!

And then Master Yoda suddenly pokes us in our (metaphorical) ribs: “All his life has he looked away – to the future – to the horizon! Never his mind on where he was! Hm? What he was doing! Hmph. Adventure – heh! Excitement – heh! A Jedi craves not these things.” (The Empire Strikes Back) And somehow, in the words of a weird, shrivel-faced puppet, we recognize the truth: we can spend our whole lives looking forward to the next thing, believing that our life hasn’t begun yet.

But the fact is – it has. Life isn’t in the future. It’s happening right now.

And if life has meaning, it must be somewhere in the present. It must be here and now: in the friends and neighbors who, by chance or providence, surround us; in our own hearts and spirits, calling us to pay attention, to look – to really look! – and to listen – to really listen! Our life may not be what we’d like – but it is – it exists. And that’s good.

Work hard, then, but don’t be deceived – the meaning of your life isn’t all in what you produce. It’s in your relationships. It’s in who you are.

Listen to people. Bless them and tell the truth with humility. Don’t rush. Stop. See the living world around you. The beauty of it all is that life’s not useful- it’s just good. It’s all the gift of God, who didn’t need to create anything at all.

But he did. He willed the world to be. And he willed you to live so that he can love you. He’s already given you all that’s necessary for happiness, free, no strings. It’s there if only you have eyes to see – if you only ask him.

Trust God’s love. Hear his voice. Enjoy his grace. He is the meaning in the present moment. He is the Beauty in the beautiful. He is the Goodness in all that’s good.

Grad Life Program Highlight: GO Grants

Have you and your grad student friends ever wanted to go to an event, but couldn’t quite bring yourselves to fork over the cash to pay for it? Next time, Grad Life may be able to help!

One of Grad Life’s ongoing programs is the GO Grant program, sponsored by the Notre Dame Graduate School. Groups of current Notre Dame graduate students and post-docs (and their guests) can apply for a GO Grant to help cover the cost of tickets or entrance fees to events around Michiana. If you have a group of six to twelve graduate students (and up to one guest for each student) collectively coming from at least two different academic departments, you’re eligible to apply for up to $300.00 per group to help subsidize the cost of the event you have in mind. This program is meant to support graduate student participation in local events in order to promote well-being and foster community.

All you have to do is fill out a short online application with a description of the event and a brief argument for why your group should receive funding for it. Eligibility requirements and other policies are spelled out in full on the Grad Life website, but here are the basics.

  • The money can only be used to cover the cost of tickets or entrance fees to one-time events – it is not for covering the cost of food, beverages, alcohol, transportation, recurring classes, etc.
  • Submit your application at least one week ahead of time, since every participant will need to fill out and submit a waiver form.
  • It’s okay if the total cost of the event will exceed $300 – you can use the GO Grant as a subsidy.
  • No applicant or attendee may be the beneficiary of a GO Grant more than once a semester. If you were part of a group that received a GO Grant in January, you can’t be part of a group that receives a grant for the rest of the spring. Check the website for specific dates.
  • Only adults (over 18) are eligible to receive funding.
  • Afterwards, your group will need to submit your receipts, a short survey, and a photo of the group at the event in order to receive reimbursement.

It’s as simple as that! So next time you and your friends feel like fleeing the library and getting some recreation, you can think less about cash and more about fun. Apply now!

Graduate Student Appreciation Week Guest Post: Mae Kilker

It’s easy to forget in the day-to-day bustling life on campus that Notre Dame is not just an undergraduate university. Graduate Students make up a third of the overall student body here, but you don’t see them tossing beanbags, setting up hammocks, or throwing the pigskin around on the quads in the same numbers. They don’t live in the Hogwarts-like residence halls scattered among the classroom, lab, and office buildings. Brace yourself, but many grad students have never been to a home football game. (Gasp!)

Nonetheless, grad students do leave the lab and the library to participate in campus events, and I think we’re all better for it. While it’s important to focus and make progress on your research, you’re missing out if you never enter into the stream of the campus community.

My favorite memories are also some of the strangest things I’ve done on campus:

  • Brazilian samba dancing in the LaFortune Ballroom with the ND Club of Brazil. They make it look so easy!
  • Learning just how hard it is to flip a hamburger on a 4-foot-long grill when I volunteered for the GSU concession fundraiser before a home game
  • Watching my childhood favorite, The Princess Bride, at midnight in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center with free popcorn!

There were some awkward moments, too, like at the Rec Center Zumba course where everyone else clearly knew who Shakira was and how to dance like her – and I clearly did not. But that made me laugh, too, which is just like exercising. Right?

I’ve explored many different features of campus: the Snite Museum, the Basilica, the Grotto, lakes, golf courses, and the near-constant flow of graduate student workshops, lectures, receptions, etc., offered by my department or other organizations. Yet I’m constantly surprised by what else is happening here – like when the Wonder Woman movie played in Washington Hall, with free cupcakes from Gigi’s Cupcakes courtesy of the Student Activity Office. Or what I’m looking forward to later this week, the Grad Student Appreciation Week “Dogs & Dogs” event on the North Quad. Hot dogs and therapy dogs? What’s not to love?

Grad Student Appreciation Week reminds our grad students that you are ND, too. We’re glad you’re here, and we’d love to have you join in the fun. After all, I can’t be the only one dancing so weirdly in public….​

 

Mae Kilker is a doctoral candidate at the Medieval Institute and the Assistant Program Director for Professional Development in the Graduate School.

Summer in South Bend: Books

Reading a book is one of the great forms of leisure. Reading for enjoyment is an activity that has little tangible utility. It adds nothing to your resume nor does it impress admissions committees, and, unless you are very fortunate, no one will pay you to read a book for the delight of it. But of course, that’s not what leisure is about anyway. Reading feeds the soul and the mind. Good stories tell the truth about human beings and the world in which they live. They hold up a mirror in which we glimpse our own selves.

Now, if there’s one thing that is sure to attract a swarm of graduate students, it’s good prices on good books. Nowadays, most of us purchase our books online. But for the literary at heart, there is still no place like a comfortable, creaky local bookshop for whiling away those summer hours. Check out the impressive array of titles, new and used, available at these shops in South Bend.

Griffon Bookstore
121 W. Colfax Ave
South Bend, IN 46601

Located in downtown South Bend, Griffon’s is a bookstore like no other. They sell books, of course: new books on the ground floor, ranging from paperbacks to leather-bound and illustrated classics, and used books in the basement. Their selections include literature, philosophy, history, and poetry, not to mention a discounted paperback section. But their specialty, broadly speaking, is leisure. Along with books, Griffon’s sells a wide selection of card and board games, especially of the strategy, fantasy, and history varieties. On their shelves, you’ll find such popular titles as Settlers of Catan and Seven Wonders, as well as full lines from small game manufacturers like Fantasy Flight and Days of Wonder. Many of their games are less commonly available in larger retail stores, and a number have received game of the year awards from around the world. The establishment also maintains several gaming rooms available for reservation over the weekends, free of charge, and for those who are interested, they host regular gaming events throughout the year.

Not a gamer? Not a problem. They also sell used vinyl records, paper dolls, and all sorts of plastic models. Ask the proprietor to show you around.

Idle Hours Bookstore
212 S. Michigan St.
South Bend, IN 46601

This little bookstore is also located downtown, two blocks south of Griffon’s, and it is worthy of a place on a cobbled street in Europe. Idle Hours carries an excellent collection of used literature, including classics and children’s, as well as theology, history, poetry, and biography. For those who are curious, they even have a section on local history. The store may be small, but the books they keep in stock are well worth perusing. If you are searching for one title in particular, you may not find it here, but ask the owners what sort of book you are looking for, and they will be sure to show you something worth your time.

Erasmus Books
1027 E. Wayne St.
South Bend, IN 46617

On the other side of the river, you’ll find Erasmus Books, located in an old house and established by an emeritus professor of theology at Notre Dame. Once again, you will find used books of nearly any sort here, though the selections in theology, philosophy, and literature are especially extensive. The house is quiet and charming, and, although it is packed full of books, it’s not difficult to find your way around. If you are a bookworm, then this is the bookshop you’ve been looking for. Note that the store is only open Thursday through Sunday in the afternoons.

 

Finally, don’t forget about South Bend’s St. Joseph County Public Library! Check their website for family events and drop in to get your free library card and peruse their collection.

Summer in South Bend: The Movies

Who among us doesn’t enjoy a good summer film? The smell of fresh popcorn and the cool, dark theater; the mindless action flick or the compelling, heartfelt drama: what better way to spend a few hours on a lazy summer day? As we all know, however, there is something a little gut-wrenching about forking over $40 for a pair of tickets and concessions to boot. Suddenly, being a member of the cinema cognoscenti seems much less appealing.

But, fortunately for you, going out to the movies in South Bend need not be so pricey. Here are some options to consider:

Cinemark Movies 14
910 W. Edison Rd.
Mishawaka, IN 46545

If you prefer to watch your movies in a milieu of opulence, then look no further than Cinemark 14. Here, every seat is a first-class luxury recliner, and with plenty of leg room in every row, this theater sets the standard for comfort among Michiana film-goers. But added amenity need not entail added cost! Here, a regular, full-price movie ticket will cost you $8.25. Attend a matinee for a dollar less, or, if you’re an early bird, see the first show of the day for a mere $5.40. Buy any ticket at the theater and show the cashier your student ID, and you’ll pay $6.80 (unless, of course, you splurge for 3-D). The best news? Tuesday is discount day: all day long, regular tickets are $5.25. Not bad for the most comfortable cinematic experience in the South Bend area. Check their website for special screenings of classic films and live broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Wonderland Cinema
402 N. Front St.
Niles, MI 49120

If you don’t hesitate to sacrifice a little convenience for the sake of saving a lot of cash (and at graduate school, you’re in good company!), then Wonderland Cinema, just across the Michigan border, is the theater for you. Located in charming downtown Niles, about 20 minutes north of Notre Dame, this theater may not win points for architectural beauty or interior design, but it does sell tickets at rock-bottom prices. Evening tickets are only $5.00 apiece, and between noon and 5 pm, that price drops to $4.00. But come to a show before noon, and you will pay a mere $2.50 for your seat (though 3-D, as always, will be slightly more expensive). Most concessions, moreover, including corn dogs, pretzels, and candy, sell for less than $3.00. Better still, the theater sells large, refillable popcorn buckets. You’ll pay $3.00 for the bucket and the initial fill; then, Monday through Wednesday, you can refill it for only $0.50, while on Thursday, refills are free (no buckets allowed on Friday through Sunday). With the exception of Redbox, you’d be hard-pressed to find a cheaper cinematic experience anywhere else in the country.

DeBartolo Performing Arts Center

Not to be forgotten is Notre Dame’s own Performing Arts Center, complete with a comfortable THX-certified cinema. Be on the lookout for regular showings of classic, recent, and independent films, live broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera and the National Theatre in London, documentaries, and other fare. Log in with your NetID to access student ticket prices as low as $4.00 for most movie screenings (note that non-movie screenings may be more costly). Don’t forget that the DPAC also hosts various musical events and dramatic productions, including the annual Shakespeare Festival in August. Check their events calendar at the beginning of each month for an updated list of shows, starting in July.

Summer in South Bend: Relaxation and Leisure

Many graduate students find themselves in South Bend for all or part of the summer. Campus is relatively quiet and sparsely populated, providing the opportunity for hours of undisturbed research and writing in the library or in the office, as well as time to tackle that to-do list that piled up over the course of the school year.

Yet the calm of summer allows space for more than uninterrupted academic work. It is also an ideal time to relax from the tensions of the school-year, to unwind and prepare oneself for the next cycle of classes, research, and teaching. One of the great thinkers of the late Roman Empire, Augustine of Hippo, wrote, “I pray thee, spare thyself at times; for it becomes a wise person to relax the high pressure of attention to work.” (De musica ii, 15) Few better exemplars of scholarly productivity and acumen exist in history: Augustine’s surviving body of work, which remains profoundly influential, consists of more than 100 books, over 200 letters, and nearly 400 sermons, many of which he composed while serving as a bishop, a position that involved numerous religious and civil responsibilities. Yet he also believed in the need for leisure.

Indeed, leisure is one of the most human of activities. A requisite for flourishing as a person, leisure affirms that human life has worth apart from productivity. In other words, we need not always be “accomplishing,” whatever the social or professional pressures we experience, nor feel guilty about using time to do what has no clear utility. To work without ceasing saps the vitality of joy, which is the heart of the good life. As another ancient teacher once wrote, “Of the making of many books there is no end, and in much study there is weariness for the flesh.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12 NABRE)

This being so, Ask the Salmon will feature various activities and opportunities for fun throughout the months of June and July with graduate students in mind. Check back regularly for new posts and, as always, feel free to Ask the Salmon questions about Notre Dame or graduate student life by e-mailing gradlife@nd.edu.