Written by Sonoma State Star Staff Writer, Alyssa James
Published: December 9th 2014
Henna tattoos, hot chocolate, twinkly lights, artwork and good music gave Sonoma State Unplugged a warm and intimate feeling as a small audience of students gathered around the dimly lit stage. The second annual concert, which took place in the Cooperage on campus, featured two students from SSU who have a passion for singing and playing instruments.
The opening act was a student by the name of Dan Versman, who decided to go completely unplugged with his acoustic guitar, singing renditions of songs by other artists as well as his own songs. Throughout his performance, he artfully played his guitar to the lyrics of soft, sad love songs. The first song Versman sang was a cover by Elliott Smith, called “Twilight,” which is about losing the girl he loved. It sounded very smooth and soulful with his feelings pouring out through the words of loss and sorrow. The second song he performed, called “Lost,” was written by Versman himself about personal experiences with feeling lost and not belonging. Another song he sang was similar to “Lost” with lyrics: “I don’t see any light, only walls left white,” and “how do I breathe in when I’ll never be forgiven.” He spoke out to the audience and revealed that this was his saddest song that he would be playing during the night. The final song Versman sang sounded like it was also about a girl, but he told everyone that the girl he refers to is actually mother nature and that he was inspired to write the song from living in green and scenic Oregon and Utah previously in his life. Versman’s songs are very relatable for people who have gone through similar experiences that he sings about. His lyrics were genuinely moving and it was evident that he put all of his heart and soul into singing and writing lyrics.
The second and final act of the night was Sebastian Cardona, who sang covers of many popular and well-known current songs. Cardona had a way of making each song sound unique and different with his acoustic and soft, drawn out chords and vocals. The first two songs he sang while simultaneously playing the keyboard were “Don’t Stop the Music” by Rihanna and “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley. As soon as he started singing, everyone in the audience instantly got excited and clapped along to the beats because they recognized the songs he was performing. After those two songs, he switched over to playing guitar, starting out with the song “Suit and Tie” by Justin Timberlake. The next few that followed were all covers of reggae and Hawaiian songs such as “Just Friends” by Musiq Soulchild, “Wade in Your Water” by Common Kings and “Cool Down” by Kolohe Kai. When he sang each of these songs, the room developed a calm and relaxed vibe, similar to how one would feel laying out on the beach in Hawaii. The last song that he sang was comparing a girl to the ocean and how this girl is beautiful and makes him a better man. After this, Cardona quickly switched back over to the keyboard for the second half of the song that he blended into “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5. To conclude the concert, he asked his friend Gabe, who put on Unplugged, to sing a song and the two of them performed a duet of “Treasure” by Bruno Mars, with Sebastian singing and Gabe playing the guitar as well as singing.When asked about who his musical influences are, Cardona told the STAR: “That’s really hard, I have too many to count; too many to list, but I think two of the main ones would be John Legend and Jamie Cullum – he’s like a jazz, pop, R&B, hip-hop singer who fuses all these different kinds of music together and I really look up to him.” After being asked what influenced him to start singing, he said: “Disney movies, to be honest, literally Disney movies. Movies like Hercules that had sing-a-long songs are what made me want to sing. I had a sing-a-long cassette tape that I made my mom buy because I liked the songs so much.”
The night concluded with claps and cheers as the artists exited the stage to formally meet their fans in the audience.