Ukulele player entertains IUS students

IUS Horizon

Mike Sullivan, singer and guitarist, performs for IUS students in The Commons on Sept. 19. Sullivan played a variety of songs from artists such as Jason Miraz and Rihanna.

Smells of meatballs rose and filled the air in The Commons. Sounds of chatter joined in. Students scrambled to get that last piece of homework done while scarfing down whatever they could of their salads and baked potatoes.

Then it came.

An unfamiliar sound had entered the mix.

It was the sound of the beach.

It was the sound of a ukulele.

It was the sound of  Mike Sullivan.

On Sept. 19, the Mike Sullivan Band brought the musical styling of his hometown of Hermosa Beach, Calif., to IU Southeast. Sullivan performed a solo acoustic performance, singing and alternating between playing the guitar and ukulele.

“With him just singing and the one instrument, it’s really cool,” Rebecca Eberhardt, criminal justice and psychology freshman, said. “It sounds really good.”

Dressed in a Star Wars T-shirt, jeans and a pair of Chucks, Sullivan offered a voice as laid back as his style.

“I like the soft [tone] with a pop in vibrato,” Mary Potter, special education freshman, said about Sullivan‘s voice.

She happened to be eating lunch with Eberhardt near Sullivan’s stage during the performance.

Like most of the other listeners, Eberhardt and Potter said they did not know of Sullivan prior to the show or that there would be a performance that day.

Catherine Daugherty, criminal justice sophomore, said she was impressed by Sullivan’s vocals but felt his stage presence was not there.

She said she thought if he could improve his presence he could go far in the indie music scene.

“He just seems uncomfortable,” she said.

Sullivan offered students a collection of cover songs ranging from Jason Mraz to Rihanna. Each had its own beachy feel, mainly due to Sullivan’s smooth voice and the ukulele’s sound.

Potter said she felt Sullivan’s songs blended well together.

Erwin Jacob, coordinator of arts and entertainment for the Student Program Council, introduced Sullivan to the crowd and said he was glad to have him perform.

“I like him,” Jacob said. “I like acoustics.”

With stress related to due dates and upcoming exams looming among the students, Sullivan said his music could be a de-stressor.

This is why one of his chosen instruments is the ukulele. He penned the name LuLu to his own.

“The ukelele is such a happy instrument,” Sullivan said. “It has a happy sound. People love Lulu.”

Hagan Alderman, assistant director chair of the Student Program Council, is one of those people.

He said he liked the ukulele because it was an interesting touch.

Throughout the show, it became evident Sullivan caters his performances to college students. He dedicated his cover of Bruno Mars’ “The Lazy Song” to IUS students.

He said his reasoning was because of students’ reluctance to wake up and attend early morning classes, preferring instead to lie in bed.

Sullivan’s biggest fan, however, was not a college student. Instead, he doubled as Sullivan’s smallest fan. A toddler entered the cafeteria with his mother halfway between the performance and began dancing along in his red sweats. Sullivan took notice, learned the boy’s name was Avery, and replayed “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” for him, because he said he knew children favored the songs’ bouncy style.

Sullivan continuously encouraged listeners to come up to the stage during his break and after the show to chat.

He took time to learn the names and shake hands of those interested.

He also personalized a part of his performance for IUS students. During “Sunday Morning,” he free-styled lyrics about Avery and New Albany.

Sullivan flew in to Memphis, Tenn., from Los Angeles and traveled to Indianapolis before playing at IU Southeast.

“I like coming back here,” he said in regard to returning to the Midwest — he was born and raised in Illinois.

Sullivan said he hopes to return to IU Southeast in the spring accompanied by a saxophonist.

By SAMANTHA FRAZIER

Staff

sefrazie@ius.edu