The Oberlin Review

Three Songwriters to Showcase Fresh Talent

Daniel Cramer

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Oberlin’s songwriting scene will take center stage Saturday, March 7 at 8 p.m. during Three Songwriters, when College sophomores Rob Jamner, Kristin McFadden and College first-year Ethan Aronson perform an intimate concert at Slow Train Cafe. All three musical artists are involved in Oberlin Songwriters, a club that Jamner and McFadden started last semester. The duo hopes both to get their group chartered and to teach a songwriting ExCo next semester.

 

“There’s a lot of great people here,” Jamner said of the songwriting scene at Oberlin. “I think for non-Conservatory people, there aren’t always as many opportunities. You sort of have to make those for yourself, and that’s part of why I’m starting to set up performances like these and why I have been working to create this chartered organization.”

Jamner said he wanted to do a show of this sort for a while. “I finally found the time and just decided to set it up and pick two people that I’ve had experience playing with. I really like their music, and they’re fun to play with.” McFadden first performed with Jamner, whom he met in a first-year seminar, at an open mic early last year. Since then, they have been recruiting songwriters. “We know that there’s a bunch of songwriters at Oberlin just writing songs by themselves in their rooms because they love to do it, and then they perform them usually at open mics. … What I thought would be awesome [would] be talking about these songs. We should be collaborating, not just being alone in our room[s],” said McFadden.

Jamner and McFadden noticed Aronson last semester when he played at the Cat in the Cream. Aronson sings and plays mandolin, adding diversity to a show that will feature more traditional songwriter instrumentation including piano and guitar. Aronson’s Winter Term project this year was writing folk songs about political issues. The first-year, whose biggest influences include Phil Oaks, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and Víctor Jara, said that songwriting is an important tool. “The medium of a song can provide a certain emotional resonance to issues that isn’t available through other media,” said Aronson, “It can be a really powerful way for people to learn about an issue or become emotionally invested in an issue.”

Aronson explained that songwriting is a personal experience. “Songwriting provides a means of self expression and catharsis, a way to say what I want to say in a really powerful and beautiful and meaningful way,” he said. “For other people it could provide resonance, expression, insight and beauty.” Aronson is not yet sure what he will be performing March 7, but knows his set will definitely include “The Gallows and the Guillotine,” a song he wrote about capital punishment.

Jamner will perform three original songs, “Keeping to Myself,” “Tapestry” and “Serenade.” “I write about all sorts of things,” Jamner said. “Even if it’s a narrative about someone else, it’s got to resonate with me somehow. I like telling stories in my songs.” McFadden looks forward to showcasing her songs with a fresh perspective. “[My ex-boyfriend] wrote a poem, and I turned it into a song,” said McFadden. “The other song is ‘Sweet Song,’ which I wrote after coming home for the first time after being away.”

 

Jamner is excited to experience performing alongside fellow songwriters. “I think all of our songs … have grown during the rehearsal process,” he said. “This isn’t the only time I’m going to do a performance like this for sure.”

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