When it comes to picking musical talent, Jennifer Lopez, Blake Shelton and Simon Cowell don't have a thing on the members of the St. Ambrose Campus Activities Board (CAB).
Last spring, CAB executive board members sampled several musical acts for campus bookings during a national convention.
Lindsey Gibney, chair of the CAB Night Life committee, will concede that putting SAU on a list of schools interested in hosting the Plain White Ts wasn't a difficult decision. The power pop band from suburban Chicago already had been nominated for a pair of Grammys and was a well-known musical act.
Booking the then-little-known a cappella country group Home Free was more of a home run, however, as the country quintet went on to claim the Grand Prize in the popular NBC musical competition series, The Sing Off.
Both bands performed on-campus shows this year for audiences consisting of SAU students only.
In November, the Plain White Ts was joined by another rising pop band, Parachute, to perform for more than 800 St. Ambrose students in the grand ballroom of Rogalski Center. It was one of just two college campuses the Plain White Ts visited in the opening leg of a winter tour.
Home Free performed for a similar number of Ambrosians on Jan. 18 in the Galvin Fine Arts Center.
"It was really great that it all happened in our favor," said Gibney. "We were pretty excited about it."
Jason Richter, activities director and CAB adviser, said St. Ambrose typically works to book a show with name-brand bands every other year. Past CAB-sponsored concerts have starred Timeflies, Train and the Ben Folds Five.
Like Home Free, Timeflies was a band that struck it big after being booked to play for a $3,000 fee at St. Ambrose. By the time they arrived at SAU in December of 2011, the band was charging $65,000 for future bookings.
"We have had some decent luck on the concert front," Richter said.
Or maybe St. Ambrose is the place to play for bands that plan to make it big.
Keep your eye on Tommy and the High Pilots. They opened for Plain White Ts and Parachute and will play an outdoor show on campus in late April.
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