June 29, 2012
The band that got its start at an Off Knox performance in 2010 and has played at a number of different Knox events during the past two years has recorded their first album. Poets and Peasants took their nine-piece band to Kresge Recital Hall and the WVKC radio station during the week of June 18 to record a culmination of a year of musical creation.
The band found its beginning through the efforts of Jake Hawrylak '13. Their 2010 Off Knox performance (Off Knox is a venue for music, poetry, and other arts performance in a public space) featured numerous choir members that added to their exciting performance. The excitement of that night has helped the band thrive on the Knox campus. (Photo above: Annie Pittman '12, left, Jess Dearcangelis '11 and Sam Brownson '12, right, sing the harmonies to "Ghost" on Saturday, June 23.)
"I always envisioned this as a sandbox where there are a ton of music majors," Hawrylak said. "It was kind of like, 'lets see what happens if we get all these instruments together and orchestrate a song.'"
Sam Brownson '12 has taken a big role in promoting and performing in the band since joining in 2011. The collective nature of the band has been a key point of their success at Knox that makes it difficult to select one key leader.
Brownson, who transferred to Knox before his sophomore year, was drawn to Knox because of its artistic community. (Photo right: Sam Brownson '12, bottom, and fellow band members are all smiles as they finish recording their album in the WVKC studio on Saturday, June 23.)
"There seemed to be a really thriving artistic community [at Knox] which really attracted me," Brownson said.
The band recorded most of their album in Kresge Recital Hall in the Ford Center for Fine Arts. Kresge was the place most of the band members "have a musical home," Brownson said. It is location where many grew musically through their choir or Cherry St. Jazz Combo rehearsals or during the numerous musical performances there.
One song on the album, "Ghost," was recorded in the WVKC studio, which allowed them to record numerous tracks at once in order to gain the live concert energy that is essential for the song. WVKC and many other staff and departments around the campus supported the recording project by entrusting them with access to the two locations and providing them with some of their recording equipment.
Most of the band members have been involved in the Music department during their time at Knox. Four members of the band have been in the Cherry St. Jazz Combo, and seven are choral singers involved with the Knox College Choir.
The name of the album hasn't been decided yet, but the theme and feeling of the album is that of earthiness and a duality of nature. Brownson is hopefull that the album will be released late fall or winter.
For Brownson, the College has been supportive of the whole band and has made the album possible.
"The stuff we have done has gotten the utmost support from the faculty, the students, and the Knox community at large," Brownson said.
The band decided to record at Knox for many reasons, but one reason stuck with Brownson. (Photo left: Harrison Graham '13 tunes his fiddle before recording "Ghost" on Saturday, June 23 in the WVKC studio.)
"Its more meaningful if we do it at Knox than if we do it at some studio somewhere else in Illinois. The fact that it was on campus made it a nice way to bookend some of our careers at Knox, to end where we started, in some sense," Brownson said.
While four of the band members graduated this June, Poets & Peasants doesn't plan on stopping. Whether the spirit of the band continues with new members along with the remaining members, or continues in another avenue, the members are glad to have this album as a mark of their work over the past year and are excited to watch where the album might take them.
(Below: An audio slideshow of the band's week in the recording studio.)