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A Little Night Music

Exactly one week ago today, I was at the ACS national neeting, trolling the convention center in New Orleans for interesting talks in the Organic Division, when I chanced upon an unassuming stack of black-and-white photocopied fliers. They promised both music and refreshments at that night’s joint poster session with the Medicinal Division. I like music and refreshments, so I stuffed the flier into my bag.

It should come as no surprise to you that chemists also like music and refreshments. Long after the last poster was lovingly rolled into its case, they were tapping and dancing along to the Zydepunks, who I think were the best example of interdisciplinarity at the meeting.

I should mention that I’d forgotten my camera that evening and was kicking myself for having done so. Lucky for me, Don Rogness, a grad student in the Larock group at Iowa State, was sitting by the stage with camera in hand. The pictures you see in this post are all his. (Thanks, Don!)

The Zydepunks are a self-proclaimed musical mashup with Cajun, Irish, Breton, Klezmer, Slavic, and Zydeco influences. During the concert, I talked over the frenetic strains of a fiddle and a melodica with Organic Division Program Chair Scott Sieburth from Temple University. He told me he put this event together because he and the planning committee want to make Wednesday nights at ACS meetings an great thing to stick around for. These days, lots of people leave the meeting before then.

Sieburth searched for the local sound by doing what any self-respecting ACS division program chair would do: He checked out bands’ MySpace pages. Here’s the Zydepunks’ page. His final preparation for the pre-poster-session concert? Going to Neophobia, a local retro furniture/clothing shop, where he picked up his colorful shirt.

Sieburth got some good feedback right there at the concert. While we were chatting, Jared Mike, another Iowa State grad student, shook Sieburth’s hand and admitted being skeptical about having a band play the convention center. “I was surprised they were this good,” he said. “Nice find!”

After the concert, I spoke with bassist Scott, the lone New Orleans native in the group. “Yes, this is my first gig in the convention center,” he said, and the first for an all-chemist crowd.

It was at least 10:30 when the music wound down, but the band sold more than a few CDs. That’s me in the trenchcoat, trying hard to look like a reporter, and you can see Sieburth’s colorful shirt behind me.


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  • Apr 17th 200811:04
    by Molly Hoke

    Great article, sounds like I missed a great party. Way to go to to Program Co-Chair Scott Sieburth and the DOC!

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    Aug 21st 200810:08
    by Synthesizing A Sound at C&ENtral Science

    [...] added the local sound (and local beer) to the poster session’s program. The result was a lively concert that had chemists sticking around the convention center much longer into the night than they might [...]

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