By Lauren Minore
Students gathered at the front of the Campus Mall on Sept. 14, anxiously awaited the moment that, for many, would mean being inches away from their childhood idol.
Drake Bell, former teen actor known for his role on the Nickelodeon show “Drake and Josh,” played a one-hour musical set during Rider’s 40th annual Cranberry Fest.
This year’s event also featured a food festival, inflatable jousting, a bungee trampoline, a beer garden and free “I Bleed Cranberry” T-shirts.
During the set, Bell performed original songs, including “Call Me When You’re Lonely,” “Fuego Lento” and “I Know.” He also performed covers of Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect,” and the first verse of Oasis’ “Wonderwall.”
Performing his music live evoked a more personal experience for Bell than playing a character on a TV show, especially because most of his own music is original as opposed to reading from a script written by others.
“When you get a laugh, you’re kind of looking at the writers like, ‘Hey, good joke,’ [so] playing music live is totally different,” Bell said. “You’ve written the music, you’ve created all of the production [elements]. Then when you get on stage and someone is singing along to a song or screaming out, ‘play this song, play that song,’ it’s way more rewarding because it’s something more personal.”
Bell credited artists Elvis Presley, John Lennon and Jerry Lewis as some of his musical inspirations.
He frequently plays on college campuses, where he finds it rewarding because he often plays for students who grew up watching him on TV.
“It’s a blast, it’s so fun. I’m really big into nostalgia. I lived across from Disneyland when I was growing up, so that was a place I went all the time after school, anything that reminds me of being a kid again, I love,” he said. “It’s really cool to be a part of that for so many people, it feels good to see that reaction for other people.”
Bell performed classic hits from the show, like “Makes me Happy,” while intermittently quoting famous lines from the show in between songs. He ended his performance with its theme song, “I Found a Way,” leaving some Rider students to reminisce on their favorite memories from the show.
“I didn’t know I knew the entire Drake and Josh theme song until I was there singing it,” sophomore English major Matt Pozzuolo said. “It was funny to see him actually mention a bunch of stuff from the show, I was worried he was going to go up there and sing a bunch of songs I didn’t know, but him saying ‘Megan’ was phenomenal.”
For Bell, playing music for audiences has allowed him to make personal connections with his fans.
“You’re working on something in a room that you don’t know if anyone is going to like, and then you put it out and start to see reactions,” he said. “It means a lot. Music allows me to do a lot of stuff I wouldn’t normally be able to do, like come and play my songs on college campuses or play around the world.”
Published in the 09/18/19 edition.