The College-in-the-Woods Dining Hall became unusually enchanting on Friday night. It had been rearranged into a coffeehouse setting, complete with dim lights strung across the ceiling, tables of food and a stage for the annual Woods Jam, a night of music in the revamped dining hall with this year’s theme being “Under the Sea.”
“We wanted the theme to coincide with the paintings above the walkway under the Tuscarora Office Building,” said Abby Kress, vice president of public relations in the College-in-the-Woods Area Council and a sophomore majoring in biology. “All of those paintings were ocean-themed, so we thought it was a nice way to connect it all.”
Next to Woods Olympics, Woods Jam is one of the biggest fall traditions in College-in-the-Woods. This year, performers included not only musicians who live in College-in-the-Woods, but also the off-campus band The Clique, student-run music ensemble Explorchestra, a community service a cappella group Note to Self, the American Sign Language Club, Black Dance Repertoire and spoken-word performer Cavon Elias, a College-in-the-Woods resident assistant and a senior majoring in psychology.
“Woods Jam is a very nice community builder,” Kress said. “Especially because it’s in the fall, it’s a good de-stressor from midterms. It’s a nice way to come together and listen to music, and it showcases the talents within the community.”
Gay Squared, a duo consisting of Kate DiGraziano, a sophomore majoring in English, and Luis Gonzales, a sophomore majoring in mathematics, swept away the crowd with sultry covers of Lana Del Rey ballads. The duo came together recently and this set was their debut performance.
“We just actually collaborated last week, finally, because I had to be home this time last year, so I didn’t get to participate in that Woods Jam,” Gonzales said. “We got the chance [to perform] this year, and we were so thrilled after our first practice.”
Cadence is a band consisting of Gina Rizzo, a freshman majoring in integrative neuroscience, Griffin Vinas, a freshman majoring in psychology and Kathryn Vanderveer and Connor Nardocci, two seniors at Maine-Endwell High School. Similar to Gay Squared, their band was assembled only two weeks ago.
“We’re all in our own individual bands, but they’re all centered around rock music, so it was easy to come together,” Rizzo said. “It was very ‘Lemonade Mouth’-esque. We had two 20-minute rehearsals in [Nardocci]’s basement before this [Woods Jam].”
Despite having gathered initially just for Woods Jam, the members of Cadence have enjoyed performing together so much that they are considering doing so again in the spring for College-in-the-Woods’ annual Woodstock event.
“I’ve been performing for a really long time, but this is the most comfortable I’ve ever been,” Rizzo said. “Since [the band members] are my age and everyone in the audience was our age, I was super comfortable and it was so easy to play with them. It had the least pressure and was the most fun that I’ve had [when performing].”
Shakeb Zia, a freshman majoring in economics, enjoyed his first Woods Jam and is excited for Woodstock.
“It was nice to see the community come together and to see the range of talent we have in [College-in-the-Woods],” Zia said. “I hope they build on this to make Woodstock even better and that this might inspire some people to perform in the spring.”