Prof’s impact in rock ‘n’ roll

Run to Sandy’s second album, Icebreaker, features 12 tracks. Dr. Jonathan Millen plays drums and percussion for the band.

By Carly Totten

Most students know Dr. Jonathan Millen as a professor, chair of the Communication and Journalism Department and assistant dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Education and Sciences. Many are unaware, however, that Millen is a drummer in the band Run to Sandy.

Millen, who surrounds himself with music, says that he never considered a career in the field. Enter Run to Sandy, the band Millen formed with four others in 2006.

“We all met at a neighborhood party and it came up that certain people played,” Millen said. “It really just started as a ‘Hey, let’s get together and jam,’ and before you knew it, we were writing songs, and now we have two CDs out.”

The band is composed of Millen, Dave Palmer, Jeff Sawyer, Richie Lather and Jenn Travis. The musical tastes of Run to Sandy, named for the members’ neighborhood, Sandy Run in Lower Makefield, Pa., range from country and folk to classic rock.

“Each one of us has tremendously different musical influences,” Millen said. “That’s why the music is hard to put into one category.”

The members’ diverse musical tastes are well represented on Run to Sandy’s first full-length album, Icebreaker, which was released in March. The band had released  a five-song EP in 2007.

“It was really our first crack at recording together,” Millen said of the EP. “The new one has 12 songs, all originals. They really run the gamut from that folk-acoustic sound to some of the harder stuff that we’ve done.”

On Icebreaker, Run to Sandy begins with a couple of classic rock tracks, including the album’s title song. On “Bottom of the Yard,” the band switches to folk with the introduction of an acoustic guitar and a harmonica. By the middle of the album, the band is comfortably singing country in “The Ballad of Sandy Run,” which Millen wrote, but then briefly switches to rock in “All Your Life” before ending the album with classic rock.

“It’s rock ’n’ roll,” Millen said. “It’s been described as power-pop. It has roots in classic rock and pop.”

While Run to Sandy is not touring constantly, it does play shows around the Philadelphia area, most recently at The Khyber on April 17. It has even played at Rider, and will play more if student response is good.

Although the members would like to first sell some copies of Icebreaker before it launches on iTunes, the album will join Run to Sandy’s EP on the band’s website. In fact, Millen, who teaches Social Impact of Rock ’n’ Roll, believes that music should become free in the future with artists generating income from concerts.

“If you want to make money, you make money by doing shows — people coming out to see your performance,” he said. “I would love to think that somehow social media will render the purchasing of music antiquated and irrelevant. It should be no different than a newspaper story or a photograph.”

To check out Run to Sandy, visit

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