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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

A Fest-Of-Us

Bleu, winner of WBCN?s ?Best Unsigned Band? of 2001, will play at Fest-of-Us, Sept. 17. (File photo)
Bleu, winner of WBCN?s ?Best Unsigned Band? of 2001, will play at Fest-of-Us, Sept. 17. (File photo)

If free food, free music and a chance for free tuition doesn’t get you out onto the plaza on Wednesday, September 17th, have someone check your pulse. To kick off the 2003-2004 semester UMass Boston is hosting the first annual “Fest-Of-Us,” an all day event featuring live musical performances by student bands as well as two national headliners, a free barbeque, and a raffle with a top prize of free tuition for one semester.

Designed to welcome back returning students, and to introduce the approximately 1,900 new students to the campus, “Fest-Of-Us” will be one of the highlights in a day full of activities. Convocation, the traditional start to the academic year, will include a keynote address by Gregory Wetstone, Director of Advocacy for the Natural Resources Defense Council, at 10:00am on the plaza. Coinciding with the start of “Fest-of-Us” will be “Passport to Discovery,” an opportunity for students to learn about various departments and resources on campus and win prizes.

Free to all students and staff, “Fest-Of-Us” will begin at 12:30pm with musical performances by a variety of student bands. The bands, mostly upcoming hip-hop and rock acts, have performed throughout the Boston area, many to critical acclaim. Throughout the day’s events academic departments, student organizations, and campus resources will be featured around the plaza.

In addition to displaying the diverse talent of the student body “Fest-Of-Us” will feature two national acts. New York “true-school” rapper/poet Baba Israel will be emceeing the event. Known for his inspiring lyrics, social awareness, impressive freestyling and beatboxing skills, he has performed with greats such as Mos Def, Outkast, and Jurassic 5. Baba has a strong local following and is being heralded as one of the most original performers to hit the rap circuit in years, incorporating aboriginal and tribal sounds into his music by playing the didgeridoo. He also teaches workshops on the art of freestyling and the origins of hip hop at the DOOR Community Center in New York City.

Local rocker Bleu, who won the 2003 Phoenix/WFNX Best Local Male Vocalist, will be the event’s headliner. Bleu won WBCN’s Best Unsigned Band in 2001, and, despite the “curse of the rumble,” has a song featured on the Spiderman soundtrack. His strong rocking guitar and catchy pop hooks have won him a loyal international following, steady air play on rock stations across the country, a record deal with Columbia, and a reputation as the “next big thing” to come out of Boston. Bleu is also nominated for Boston Music AwardsTM Male Vocalist of the Year and Debut Album of the Year for his 2003 “Redhead.”

Following the success of last year’s Hidden Jewels of the University raffle, the revamped “Passport to Discovery” will feature over thirty departments and resources at tables around the plaza. Students will have the chance to find out about some of the campus resources that often don’t get discovered until several semesters into their career, as well as an opportunity to enter a raffle (drawing at 3:00) to win free tuition and other prizes such a semester parking pass and a gift certificate to the bookstore. Departments scheduled to participate include the Arthur Martin Observatory, Student Life, WUMB Radio Station, Beacon Fitness Center and Hurricane Cruises.

While most residential colleges have fall events centered around housing or football games, UMass Boston must take a non-traditional approach to welcoming its student body. With this in mind the “Fest-Of-Us” event was designed to offer the students something they will really enjoy: free food and music. “This year the focus is aimed at getting students engaged immediately with the campus in the fall and helping to set the tone for the school year,” said Kathleen Teehan, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management. “As we have prepared for these events, students have been making decisions about what will happen at Fest-Of-Us.”

For more information, to get involved, make suggestions or volunteer visit the Fest-Of-Us website at www.umb.edu/festofus.