By Riley Eisenbeil
Amidst the fluorescent lights and acoustic panels on the walls, four students sat in the basement of Kendall Hall tuning their guitars. WTSR 91.3 FM hosted their first ever jam session on Nov. 11 at 5:30 p.m. allowing any College student, regardless of their major or skill level, to bring their instruments and make music in a freewheeling environment.
Throughout quarantine, students have been secluded in their own spaces and have lost the opportunity to connect in person and feed off of the energy of others in a shared space. Getting back into a normal semester on campus and attending in person classes, musicians have had to rearrange their schedules to leave time to decompress and make music throughout the day.
“Sometimes it’s a little hard [to balance music with school and a personal life], but it is really important to me, so I find time for it,” said Antonio Madrigal, a freshman math major with a data science specialization.
The jam session started out with what seemed like four individual performances, but the longer they sat strumming to their own tunes, the easier it became to join in on what their peers were playing.
“We might need a few more rehearsals before we go on tour,” said Justin Spags, freshman business major, when they were still warming up.
As time went on, students were able to find a groove and roll with it. Everyone was relying on their ability to learn by ear or by watching to collaborate on what the others were playing. Aside from the various riffs and circular patterns they were showcasing, students also played some familiar songs like “Blister In The Sun” by Violent Femmes, “Franklin’s Tower” by Grateful Dead, “Blueberry Hill” by Fat Dominos, “Day Tripper” by The Beatles, and “Polly” by Nirvana.
Different musicians have their own styles of music that they tend to gravitate toward, and for an event like a jam session, this was not only acceptable but encouraged. One person would suggest a song and the others would either join in automatically or they would be taught a bass line or riff that they could add in to still be a part of the experience.
After spending over a year and a half creating music alone in separate spaces, events like this help to bring the community together to collectively focus on their passions. If music is important to a student, but they don’t feel comfortable expressing themselves in a formal setting, such as the wind ensemble or concert band, a close knit group like this is the safe space to play music.
“We were testing [the jam session] out to see if it went well and if it did we wanted to do more,” said Olivia Buote, the automation director at the radio station, and a junior applied mathematics major.
Seeing how well the musicians were able to work together to create such an inviting space, the College community should be expecting more of these jam sessions in the future.