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Pethan musical duo's reunion within a Reunion creates new AU memories
6/13/13

Peter Caroccio ’03 and Ethan Kaye ’02, members of the folk rock performance duo Pethan, say they enjoyed returning to their alma mater for Alfred University (AU) Reunion Weekend 2013.

“I had a great time, one that probably could never be repeated,” says Kaye, a group copy supervisor for Sentrix Healthcare in Manhattan. “I loved the golf carts and getting to know the volunteers. Charging around on golf carts, screaming at friends on other golf carts was awesome.”

Caroccio, a controls engineer at Jiffy-tite in Lancaster, NY and owner/proprietor of Electric Violin Lutherie, says his 2 ½- year-old daughter, Eva, provided his favorite memories from the weekend.

“My most vivid memory from the weekend was of her running down the sidewalk from the apartments toward Powell with her little flashlight, at night, to come see my show,” says Caroccio. “She stayed up for both shows even though she had to leave early because she was tired.” 

Pethan reunited for two Reunion Weekend performances June 7 and June 8, marking the group’s first return to the University since 2003. Both Caroccio and Kaye say they enjoyed performing together in front of their classmates and fans once again.   

Caroccio and Kaye met through mutual friends from AU’s Pirate Theater in 1999. At an open mic competition, Kaye invited Caroccio to play a song with him. Although they hadn’t practiced together before, the duo won the competition.

Shortly after winning that open mic competition, the duo, dubbed Pethan by their friends, began performing shows together on campus. Caroccio says every time they played they filled up every seat put out in the Knight Club. Kaye says even their families came to watch.

The duo recalls many memorable performances, including one after the duo rapped about ham and cheese, when an audience member tipped them with a ham and cheese sandwich!

Pethan stopped performing after both members graduated, but the “members” remain active musically. Caroccio says he played fiddle with the band Hypnotic Clambake until he left in 2003 to complete his master’s degree in electrical engineering at AU. He says he currently plays with the Chris Squier Band in Buffalo. Kaye says he played a battle of the bands called, “Pharmapalooza,” in which groups of pharmaceutical employees played music for a fundraiser for a hospital.

Caroccio says he and Kaye met in New York City a few times after they graduated. They always hoped to play a Pethan reunion performance, but the event would have to be in a place that would allow their fans to take part, since many of them live in different parts of the country.

“Our fans are people who remembered us from 10 years ago,” says Kaye. “Part of what was cool about Pethan was that it was just our friends supporting us. For us to come back, we needed to have that group of people interested in us.”

They decided Reunion Weekend would be the perfect occasion to perform and proposed the idea to Lori Wellman, the University’s director of alumni engagement.

“Pethan was a wonderful addition to the Reunion 2013 event schedule” says Wellman. “University Relations has been making an effort to try to connect with our young alumni in various ways. It allowed us to have a cool, low-key musical event both nights that appealed to a broad range of alumni, but simultaneously allowed another way to network specifically with our young alumni. It seemed like a perfect fit.”

The duo says they overcame their low expectations and enjoyed playing together again.

“I was incredibly anxious about Friday beforehand,” says Caroccio. “We had spent months preparing individually for this and the moment had finally come. I didn't want to disappoint. I came to realize the casualness that the performances had, with the banter back and forth with Ethan and the audience. That's what made the shows fun, and my anxiety had gotten in the way. I felt like I was back in my college days, with nothing to fear in the world, and was ready to give the best Pethan performance ever.”

Some songs the duo played during Reunion Weekend included:

  • “Norwegian Wood” by The Beatles
  • “Ooh La La” by Faces
  • “The Weight” by The Band
  • “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley
  • “Istanbul (not Constantinople),” by They Might Be Giants
  • “Gin & Juice” by Snoop Dogg (both members say some audience members walked out when they played this cover.)
  • “Hit Me, Baby, One More Time by Britney Spears” (“Yeah, we went there,” says Caroccio.)

“It felt amazing, even before we played,” says Caroccio.  “All of our old friends had shown up, as it wouldn’t be Pethan without them. They really are a big part of Pethan, and just seeing them over the weekend made me forget all the troubles of day-to-day life and allowed me to just be happy and appreciate what we had for those few days.”

“It’s great we can come back and do this,” says Kaye. “We always make our shows a big deal. There’s always something to look forward to. Everyone had such a great time just being there that the glitches were forgiven, and I rode a wave of positivity the entire weekend. The people made the event, just like how the people colored my time at AU. If they hadn't been there, I don’t think we would have either.”