By Lauren Katz
In the midst of midterms, exams and essays, Kenyon’s Peer Counselors hosted their annual Blues Concert on Friday, Oct. 24 in Peirce Pub. With the promise of performances from nine music groups as well as free Peggy Sue’s pie, a Mount Vernon favorite, the event began with only standing room remaining. Students packed into seats, couches and even windowsills to witness the evening unfold. While the audience slowly decreased with the number of pie slices, the bands never faltered in enthusiasm.
Emceed by Tim Jurney ’15 and Randy Stratton ’16, the evening featured two faculty groups and seven student groups. Before each act, the duo cracked a series of jokes related to autumn. Jurney and Stratton were corny as they joked about a scarecrow being outstanding in his field and leaves falling in love with one another. They began the event with the promise that they would top last year’s concert full of puns, and while the puns were just as bad, the audience could not stop laughing. They created a lighthearted mood that served as a nice break between sets of songs that often depicted heartbreak.
Erin Salva ’79, director of student accessibility and support services, kicked off the event with a series of songs on her guitar. She began with a story about how she picked up the guitar as a Kenyon student in 1975, and the first concert she ever performed was an open-mic night during that time.
Her songs were merry, particularly her concluding number, “Walk a Mile,” which she learned as an elementary school teacher. On each rendition of the chorus, Salva invited the audience to sing along, and by the end, few voices were left unheard. Everyone was shouting out “I want to walk a mile in your shoes,” and as she left the stage, the audience cheered. Jurney embraced the song by prefacing a joke with, “I was recently walking a mile in my own shoes” before The Handsome Devils took stage.
The band featured Thomas S. Turgeon Professor of Drama Jonathan Tazewell, Professor of Anthropology David Suggs and Director of Counseling Services Patrick Gilligan and his daughter, Haley Gilligan. They played a mix of original songs and covers, including “Angel from Montgomery,” originally by John Prine. The four performers blended beautifully on each number, but the band also managed to find a way to feature each vocalist in at least one number. Tazewell’s powerful vocals blasted through the pub, particularly on his high notes, which provided a nice contrast to Haley’s angelic register.
The student bands that followed ranged in style, but each group brought its excitement and passion to the stage.
Highlights included Aislinn McKeown ’16, Rae Rose Schultz ’16, Spencer Huffman ’17 and Chandler Davis ’17, who performed three songs together. Though their numbers were a little slow, Huffman wowed the audience with his strong vocal performance.
Noah Weinman ’16, Vincent Femia ’17, Adam Reed ’15 and Sam Graf ’16 showcased excellent stage chemistry during their performance. They clearly had a blast on stage as they performed a song about Weinman’s dog.
When the six-member group Hot Club de Gambier took the stage, their large collection of instruments seemed overwhelming. However, their performance proved to be one of the strongest of the evening. The Parisian infusion created an enjoyable contrast to the slower music that dominated the evening. Audience members swayed in their seats, and when Jay Leung ’15 began his trumpet performance, cheers ensued.
The night was long, and the hours of music may have seemed a bit much for the audience members who left early. However, the evening’s theme paid off. The Peer Counselors, who wore buttons during the show so that people could approach them if they needed to step out and talk, introduced the event hoping they could inspire community in a stressful time. They definitely succeeded.
Editors Note: An earlier version of this article did not give the accurate name of the group Hot Club de Gambier. The Collegian regrets the error.