By Sylvia Abney
Under the Gazebo is currently the only band comprised exclusively of Wesleyan students. The original lineup featured Stephanie Furst on the guitar and as lead vocalist, Ashley Moses on the flute, Jen Harrell on the cello, and Shari Clarke on the keyboard. Since its conception in the fall of 2008, the lineup has expanded to include Eliza Cato playing bells and the tambourine, Caitlin Donnely on the bongos and Julia Drake as an interpretive dancer.
I enjoyed the distinct pleasure of being present for the formation of this all female jam band. On September 1, 2008, I heard music playing outside of my bedroom window, and saw Stephanie, Jen and Ashley in the pavilion between Corn Hall North and South. Then as explained on their myspace page, “all of a sudden Sylvia came outside and gave us weird looks and then started to say we sounded pretty good.” Since this spontaneous jam session occurred “under the gazebo,” this became the natural name of their group.
And that’s what they are about – being natural and effortless. “The key to Under the Gazebo is creating our ambiance,” said Ashley, “– a relaxed feeling.” Prior to a performance, they make it a point to set up their performance area with art, decorations, and muted lighting – creating a custom and personal experience. Under the Gazebo is a gypsy folk jam band – an innovative, spontaneous and free sound. When you listen to their music or go to one of their performances, you might hear an original song, an improvised jam, or an interpretive cover of songs like the Black Lips’ Dirty Hands. They are not pretentious about the music they produce, and the process of creation is very tangible when they play, unlike the more typical detached, spectator concert. You may even find Stephanie pause the music for a poetry reading or two!
I spoke with band members over chips and salsa, and asked how they would describe Under the Gazebo’s sound. When they first played under the canopy of flowering vines, their various musical talents came together and the sounds blended naturally – and it was this quality that motivated the creation of a band. Ashley said, “It’s not about structure, it’s about feeding off each other’s sound.” It is evident if you listen through their tracks the sense of growth they have undergone as a group, developing simultaneously under the influence of each other’s sound and their personal musical influences into a psychedelic ambient indie folk sound all their own.
In addition to being unique in terms of their style and sound, Under the Gazebo is distinct in their representation of female creativity. “We were frustrated by a lack of female music representation in Macon,” said Jen. So the Wesleyan-born jam project filled this gap in the local music scene, as an all female band. Since their humble beginnings as friends jamming together, to a spontaneous myspace band, Under the Gazebo has gone on to play shows all over Macon, including at The Golden Bough Bookstore, The 567 Café, Creative Alternative, and 550 Blues.
To learn more about Under the Gazebo, find out about upcoming shows, and listen to their music, visit http://www.myspace.com/underthegazebo