By Christine DeVito
Southern musician Cory Branan gave a spirited performance and garnered new fans last Friday Sept. 24 at the Rathskeller. His story-like lyrics and raspy, melodic voice made for an eclectic combination at the College Union Board-sponsored event, “Some Stories from the South.”
“I kind of describe my music as a mutt,” Branan, singer, songwriter and acoustic guitarist, said. “I’m from Mississippi, so everything is kind of country that I sing, but not on purpose.”
To some audience members, the performance spurred an interest in a genre they never thought they would enjoy.
“He made me like country music tonight” junior criminology major Ryan Gale said. “It gets better as the night goes on.”
“It’s like a southern feel, but it’s modern and funny,” senior international business major Kofele Boothe said.
The southern vibe of the music turned off some audience members, including junior nursing major Zoe Pontius-Courtney.
“I didn’t realize he would be so country,” she said. “I think he’s talented, I’m just not a huge country fan.”
Jillian Polak, senior journalism major and coordinator of the event, said she wanted Branan to perform at the College because of his ability to tell stories through his lyrics.
Branan cited John Prine as a major influence on his music — saying Prine’s style was “conversational and poetic at the same time.”
Though Branan initially seemed anxious onstage, he eventually relaxed as he introduced original songs to the audience. In a song called “White T Girls,” Branan sang about some of the girls he grew up with
in Mississippi whom he saw as “trashy.” When speaking of those girls’ reactions to the song, he said, “They’re like, ‘Yeah!’ and I’m like, ‘No, it’s about you!’”
The audience responded positively to Branan’s newfound confidence.
“Once he opened up, I really liked him,” said sophomore international business major Stephanie Greenspan.
College alumnus Rick Cohen, leader of the opening band Sheep, said Branan’s music doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
“It’s frustrating to watch someone who’s so good, and no one really pays attention to them,” he said when commenting on the fact that Branan’s work seldom gets radio play.
The other members of Sheep were drummer Ron Seidel, a senior with a self-designed major of music, journalism and communication studies and bassist Scott Morris, a senior history major.
Cohen said that the band doesn’t want to limit itself to one particular style.
“We just kind of write songs that we want to listen to,” Cohen said.