Students piled into the Rathskeller on Thursday, Jan. 27 for an impromptu Student Soloist Night. The College Union Board-sponsored event rose from the ashes of Thursday’s canceled classes, capping off a host of Student Activity Fee-funded snow day events.
Six performers took the stage. All were allotted one half-hour to strum their acoustic guitars and croon a mix of covers and originals.
Freshman business major Dan Gibson set the night into motion. Clad in a plaid shirt and baseball cap, Gibson covered Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” and a few stanzas of Taylor Swift’s “Fifteen.” Gibson’s husky
voice evoked Eddie Vedder and, to one student, a prominent country singer.
“He sounds kind of like Kenny Chesney,” said Kseniya Gololobova, sophomore biology major.
Gibson also peppered his set with a few originals. He gave a nod to his band, The Dundees, which is slowly rising to prominence on Facebook.
“We have 58 fans,” Gibson said.
The Dundees lists The Pixies, Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam among its influences. All are evident in Gibson’s voice.
Second up was senior graphic design major Colleen Napolitano, a seasoned Rat veteran. Napolitano’s level speaking voice offered no hint of the vocals that would explode from her on covers such as Arcade Fire’s wintry “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”
Napolitano also played a number of originals, pulling from a hefty catalogue she’s employed during previous College musical events such as Jan. 20’s WTSR Battle of the Soloists. One such song was “Manifesto.”
“She has a very original voice,” said Katie Peters, sophomore psychology major.
Battle of the Soloists winner Danielle Steward came next. The junior history secondary education major’s soft, sweet voice carried her through a set of originals. She threw in one cover, a song by Miko.
Steward’s gently cascading guitar strums were a pleasing backdrop to wistful love songs such as “Sobering Lies,” “The Dancers” and “Faster Than You Go.”
Steward will open WTSR’s Rock ’n’ Raffle on Friday, Feb. 4.
Fourth on stage was junior civil engineering major Will Haduch. Haduch swilled VitaminWater and kept things light during his set.
“Does anyone know what ‘dragonfruit’ is?” Haduch asked the crowd as he brandished his flavored drink. “I’ve been drinking it for years, and I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Haduch’s originals included “Sunday Afternoon,” “Abby” and “Box of Kittens.”
“Some girl said I sound like I’m singing to a box of kittens. That made me so mad, I decided to write a song about it,” Haduch said. “It’s not a very good mood song, though — it should’ve been meaner.”
Haduch closed with a cover.
“I can’t stress enough — this one goes out to the ladies of the Rat,” Haduch said before launching into Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.”
Freshman economics major Richard Kauffeld played fifth. Kauffeld’s deft hand at the guitar powered him through covers such as Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower,” Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” and Dave Matthews Band’s “Jimi Thing” and “Bartender.”
Kauffeld spoke little between songs, but his melodies engaged the audience.
“Nice song!” someone shouted during Haduch’s rendition of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What it’s Worth.”
Freshman political science major Katherine Miller played last. She finished things off with a set of all covers, including Bright Eyes’ “Landlocked Blues,” Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” and Death Cab for Cutie’s “Crooked Teeth.”
She began with a song by Mumford & Sons and intended to end with one as well.
“I’m starting with Mumford and ending with it,” Miller said before playing “Sigh No More.”
Miller finished the song at 9:57 p.m., three minutes shy of completing her half-hour set. She improvised.
“I’ll throw in one more. It’s a bonus. I’ll end on a slow one that I know I’m good at,” Miller said. “This is dedicated to my roommate, by the way.”
She then drew the night to its conclusion with Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love.”
Sophomore communication studies major Jane Howell helped organize the event.
“(CUB) preemptively sent out e-mails on Wednesday,” Howell said. “These kids have all done this before. They’re eager to do it, and they’re good at it … We always try to put something together so that kids are entertained, even when there’s snow.”
Emily Brill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.