Junior Galen Morris maintains not only his studies and work on campus but also a band that performs in and around Bloomington.
Morris is majoring in Jazz Studies through the Jacobs School of Music. When he was six, his dad influenced his taste in music by starting him out on the piano. After a year of listening to his dad, he started playing guitar and stuck with it until he was 11. It was at this age he heard the album “21st Century Breakdown” by Green Day and instantly felt a connection.
“That moment is when I realized, this is what music really is,” Morris said.
He started putting his time and effort into learning guitar and wanting to be a musician. He then attended a band program called Band Builders, organized by Guitar Works in Greenwood, Indiana, where he was told to play bass instead of guitar, and he hasn’t looked back since. He attempted many different styles before settling on jazz music right before he came to IU.
“I learned pop-funk, R&B, soul and jazz fusion before college,” Morris said.
Morris initially didn’t get into Jacobs until reapplying his sophomore year. “I like to say I wasn’t that much better, but they saw that I grew because of my hard work,” Morris said.
He may have known he wanted to pursue music in college, but, according to Morris, he didn’t expect to be in a band. He knew bassists were in high demand, but to perform is a whole different thought process.
His band is called The Fellas Downstairs, as they play below the Upstairs Pub and across from Goodfellas. His freshman year, he was hired into the IU band for The Singing Hoosiers through some connections. The guitarist of The Singing Hoosiers, Peter Pendowski, asked him to join a group of friends and jam for a few hours. Soon after, they decided to start performing for people.
“First time outside of Upstairs, the people loved it,” Morris said. “We didn’t know what to expect but they loved it.”
This past Friday was their biggest turnout since students have just returned to campus.
"I’m really excited to see how it goes in the coming weeks,'' Morris said, regarding the near future. “This is a side hustle and I love it, the tips help pay for food and it really is pretty nice to do what I’m passionate about.”
To learn more about The Fellas Downstairs, follow them on Instagram @thefellasdownstairs.