AEMM capstone class ends with free concert

By Evan Minsker

Columbia’s AEMMP Records class has been nothing short of a full-time job for seven Columbia students. For the past two semesters, the students worked tirelessly for the record label-capstone class hybrid. Now, at the end of the semester, the entire college can benefit from their success.

On May 14, as an offshoot of Columbia’s Industry Night, AEMMP Records and Grammy U are co-hosting a free all-ages concert at Reggie’s Rock Club, 2109 S. State St. The concert features Columbia alumni Maps & Atlases, as well as current students’ bands The Netherfriends and Pet Lions at 9 p.m. Also, at 7 p.m., there will be a special 21-and-over opening concert featuring Rachele Eve, World’s Fair, Claire Stahlecker and Matt Kelly.

In addition, the group has put together a compilation, titled Chompilation, that features only Columbia and Chicago-based artists. The compilation includes nine exclusive tracks and 12 other songs from Office, Bob Nana, Bullet, Big Science, David Costa is Dead and many others spanning different genres.

The theme of the compilation is a celebration of “a snapshot of Chicago’s current scene.”

“I think we could have easily put together a full-on indie compilation, ’cause there’s plenty of up-and-coming Chicago indie bands, but we wanted to keep it diverse,” said Mark Kucera, a member of the class. “Our target demographic is Columbia, and that demographic is diverse itself in terms of their musical tastes.”

The class is comprised of seven seniors in the Arts Entertainment and Media Management program: Kucera, Matthew Baker, Vincent Dawkins, Lauren Haras, Zachary Jablow, Ronny Sage and Nick Terry. The class is taught by Martin Atkins, who owns Invisible Records, and David Lewis, who currently works at Columbia’s Portfolio Center and is the founder of Riot Act Media.

Lewis said the group hasn’t stopped working since the beginning of the fall semester. Even the winter and spring breaks were occupied with AEMMP business.

“We met every Thursday and two or three times a week over winter break,” Lewis said. “That’s when I knew that something had happened for all of us. This became much more of a passion, and we wanted to see it through. You just didn’t have the luxury to say, ‘Oh, it’s just a class.'”

The students in the class agreed. It was no longer “just a class.” It was a responsibility and a job.

“I think it reflects the nature of the school,” Dawkins said. “Columbia’s really one of those schools where you get out what you put in. When you get outside of class and you get your homework done, it’s really up to you for what you want to do to be creative in that time that you have. For AEMMP, there’s really an emphasis on, ‘Am I going to go out and drink or am I going to put up some fliers in Wicker Park?'”

The members of AEMMP said they are excited for the concert’s space in their portfolio and for the legacy the show will leave for AEMMP. The label has only put out two compilations before. However, it’s never been consistent. In previous years, Terry said, “Some people didn’t feel [the classes] were up to the standard of what they should be.” This year, the restructuring of the class has paid off.

“The Maps [& Atlases] show is really going to cement the 27 years in the making of AEMMP’s rebranding,” Jablow said. “And it’s really us putting our foot down and leaving our mark, saying, ‘This is the graduating class of 2009, and this is what we did in 30 weeks.'”

After a long year, Lewis is happy with the outcome.

“I’m really proud of these guys,” Lewis said. “If they hadn’t jumped in with both feet, it wouldn’t be nearly as impressive as it is. It’s been a really encouraging moment for me, personally.”

For more information on how to buy a copy of Chompilation, visit or ShopColumbia in the Wabash Campus Building, 623 S. Wabash Ave. Catch the concert at Reggie’s Rock Club, 2109 S. State St., on May 14 at 7 p.m. for the  21-and-over show and 9 p.m. for the all ages show.