In September 1974, a small student coffeehouse called The Nazz opened up in the basement of LaFortune Student Center. A place to hear fellow students showcase their musical talents.
The Notre Dame student newspaper announced the grand opening. “Folk, rock, and jazz music will be performed,” said Ralph Pennino the coffeehouse organizer. “There is no place on campus to take a date after a film or party, and we hope to provide such a place at a reasonable price—free.”
A few years earlier in 1967, an American rock band formed in Philadelphia also called The Nazz. Its founder and frontman? Legendary producer, musician, singer/songwriter Todd Rundgren. The Nazz’s first single Open My Eyes didn’t quite crack the Billboard Top 100.
But the B side did.
Hello, It’s Me made it to #39 in 1968, and jumped all the way to #5 in 1972, re-recorded as a solo effort on Todd Rundgren’s tour-de-force double album Something/Anything?. It was the first hit of an incredible career spanning six decades and over 25 albums. In addition, as a music producer, Rundgren engineered albums for a Who’s Who of Rock and Roll. From The Band to Badfinger, Hall & Oates to Meatloaf, Grand Funk Railroad to the Psychedelic Furs.
The Nazz from Philadelphia lasted just three years. But The Nazz at Notre Dame still exists. It’s now called Acoustic Café. Student musicians play original music every month. And it’s still free.
Todd Rundgren’s Play Like A Champion Concert spotlights these talented Notre Dame students, whose musical passions need a stage, and an audience, and a mentor.
This one night, they get all of that. A chance of a lifetime. To perform with a rock-‘n-roll legend.