| 03.18.2018

New leadership, same odd jobs – The Night Crew provides volunteers with a quality student experience


There is no ordinary day for senior Jake Snarr during the University of Idaho”s Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival.

“They”re all completely different,” Snarr said. “Especially the days when I might have class and I”m running around worrying about a million different things.”

Tess Fox | Argonaut
University of Idaho senior Andrew Aslett and senior Ruben MaKenzie work on a drumset Sunday at the Business Technology Incubator.

As student performance equipment coordinator, Snarr acts as the middle man between festival management and student volunteers and participants. He manages a group of student volunteers called the Night Crew and coordinates what gear goes where, when gear gets there and who gets it there.

For Snarr and his crew of volunteers, the festival started on Sunday. On the first day of Night Crew, he and student volunteers spent several hours unpacking shipments of gear and pulling other equipment out of university storage.

The rest of the week consists of moving gear from site to site and other odd jobs. While the group has been nicknamed “Night Crew,” the group operates during the day as well. Snarr said when it comes to setting up, the Night Crew chooses to set up during whatever hours work best for them.

“Basically whenever we can do it and whenever it needs to get done, we consider those two and we put it together and make sure it happens,” Snarr said.

Snarr first became involved in the Night Crew his freshman year and said that many students have since joined for the comraderie that comes with setting up for the festival.

“It was a tradition in the studio. Everyone just did it so I jumped on,” Snarr said. “It was a lot of fun so I kept doing it.”

Last year, Snarr took on more responsibility within the crew as a driver. In addition to being in charge of a four to six person team, drivers maneuver, load and unload vans full of equipment.

While Snarr and the drivers are paid by the hour, general Night Crew volunteers receive one concert ticket for every four hours they work.

Tanner Schut, UI student and percussion performance major, is participating in Night Crew for the first time this year.

“The whole percussion studio runs it,” Schut said. “All my friends who are upperclassmen have done it before (and) loved the experience.”

Junior Derec Steinman, on the other hand, has participated in the group since his freshman year.

“I think it”s really cool to be able to set up everything for middle and high school bands to play,” Steinman said. “Getting to go behind the scenes of the jazz fest is pretty awesome.”

As with any operation of this size, there are unavoidable snags. Last year”s staging location, the old Ambassador Subaru dealership, is currently occupied. Snarr said   the group is now staging at the Business Technology Incubator on the East end of campus.

“The Jazz Festival explored using a few sites,” Snarr said. “We just determined that this was our best option, due to price and it”s also on campus. It makes it really easy to get to in a pinch.”

The BTI is carpeted and has heat, which makes taking care of the equipment much easier, especially the drum sets and keyboards, which are loaned by the manufacturers Ludwig and Sebastian.

Snarr said his ultimate goal when it comes to running the Night Crew is to be organized.

“I want to make it so that the people on my crew and the volunteers working for me know what needs to be done and can just make it happen,” he said. “It doesn”t need to be a big fiasco or something like that.”

Last year”s coordinator fell ill during the festival and Snarr said she was so organized, volunteers were able to operate without her immediate presence.

“She was organized to the point that when she got sick and she could just let us keep going,” Snarr said. “We got everything done because she had everything planned out so much. She didn”t even need to be there.”

When a site doesn”t have all the required equipment, no matter what hour, Snarr gets that call.

“It isn”t a big deal usually, but it can be a big deal to the students,” he said. “That”s where it becomes a big deal for me. It”s about their experience and not how hard I have to work. I”ll work as hard as I need to, to get them the best experience.”

Tess Fox can be reached at arg-arts@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @tesstakesphotos

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