This is the first post in a series on Kenyon Whimsy, what we think Admissions actually means when the say “Kenyon quirky.” Kenyon Whimsy is crunchy but not organic–it would wear polyester if it came in a strongly hued paisley. Kenyon Whimsy is artistic but not tortured–it does not believe in suffering for the sake of vision. Love it or hate it (and we’re pretty sure we like it), Kenyon Whimsy is about the earnest enjoyment of art, music, friends and, above all, Kenyon.
This week we looked into Gin and Jams, one of the folksiest, and frankly most fun looking events we’ve heard of on campus. This felt like the right choice for our first in this series of Kenyon quirks. Check out our conversation with Elise Economy ’14 after the jump.
The Thrill: So what is Gin and Jams?
Elise Economy: Gin and Jams was started last year while I was abroad. I believe the originators were some combination of James Plunkett (’13) and Charlotte Graham (’13), in the hopes of having community music nights. There was rarely gin involved (though often alcohol) and occasionally Charlotte’s house would bake bread (and there was a double pun — jams and jam for the bread).
TT: How often does Gin and Jams meet?
EE: Now? This semester it evolved and is centered around Rebecca Ogus (’14)’s apartment and the group is a little different, although some of the staple people are the same and we’ve definitely invited a lot of new people in. It happens roughly once a month, we try for once a month. I wish it were more — most people do — but to get the key participants all available at once is tricky.
TT: How does a typical meeting work?
EE: Well, the core people usually show up right at the allotted time and people just trickle in. We have a lot of staple songs that we play and Margaret (Tilson ’14) recently revolutionized the gathering by printing chords and lyrics and putting them in binders (she’s a marvel that one) so everyone can try and sing along even if they don’t know the song. There are a lot of different instruments — I bring my guitar and play Margaret’s banjo, she has a guitar and dulcimer, and Rebecca has a fiddle. 2-3 Banjos show up, Thea (Kohout ’14) comes with her guitar and there are sometimes ukuleles and ALWAYS shakers for the less musically inclined.
TT: Best memory from Gin and Jams?
EE: Ooh tough one, very tough one. I’m giving you three.
- Down by the bay improv last week, we ran out of verses and were forced to make them up.
- Anna Sun.
- Our Pete Seeger tribute with Michael Rowed The Boat Ashore.
- Anytime we play Wagon Wheel, which is all the time! All of those memories are so wonderfully communal and beautiful, musically.
TT: That was four.
EE: I lied.
TT: Anything else you want to tell the readers?
EE: It’s really important to all of us — it has become one of the most important facet of my life at Kenyon this year, as I know is true for many people. That is where I feel the greatest sense of community and home and shared passion (but I also come from a home where musical passion is a huge focus).