Live music events keep on happening in Vankleek Hill. On May 31 at Arbor Gallery Cultural Centre, Wooly will perform.
Wooly is a four-member band from Whitby, near Toronto. Amica Gravendick-Houdegand provides vocals and plays bass guitar. Chris Caceres and Jonah Kisson each play guitar, and Alex Tarsitano plays drums and ukulele.
“Chris and I do a lot of backup,” said Tarsitano.
Kisson described Wooly’s genre of music as “alternative folk,” but cautioned a definitive genre for the band is “hard to come up with.”
The musicians in Wooly are relatively young, all ranging in age from 22 to 26 but they are adept at pushing the limits of genre labels and definitions.
“If you can make waves, it doesn’t matter,” said Tarsitano.
Genres aside, the focus of Wooly’s lyrics relies heavily on life and perspectives on issues in contemporary society, especially as seen and experienced by young adults.
The band is trying to focus more on its original material while attempting to gain a greater presence on the music scene. There’s a humility about them and their ambitions. They all have regular jobs and post-secondary education they are pursuing, but it’s clear they are aiming to take their musical careers to the next level.
“The most difficult part is having different schedules,” said Tarsitano about finding time to get together to practice.
Kisson agreed that it is a challenge of time and space.
Gravendick-Houdegand said they practice in the basements of their respective families.
“When they get tired, we go to a new one,” she said.
With Wooly, the music comes with a unique stage presence and the props to make it possible. Giant carpets are prominently displayed on stage during a show.
“It’s about creating a space for our music,” Kisson said.
Gravendick-Houdegand said the props enhance the sound and visual aspect.
She added that galleries are one of her favourite venues to perform at because there is a different level of attention from the audience.
“We all have pretty laid-back personalities,” said Kisson, about the mood within the band, adding that all of them have known each other for a long time.
Gravendick-Houdegand said it is difficult sometimes because all of them are so close, which creates a sense of intense honesty between them.
However, “There’s no better feeling than playing with people you love,” she said.
Caceres said his past musical influences are bands like Nirvana and Rush, along with Spanish music from his parents’ home country of Ecuador.
Kisson said he was part of his high school’s songwriting club, which inspired him to write music.
Tarsitano said he had piano lessons when he was younger but stopped taking them, but eventually began playing drums in another band and took lessons.
Gravendick-Houdegand was also part of the same songwriting club. She acknowledged her relationship with Kisson goes beyond music, but that music is what brought them together.
She also has connections to Vankleek Hill. Her mother, Sonia Gravendick, who also acts as Wooly’s manager, grew up there and both remain close with friends in the area. She also received vocal training from Vankleek Hill music and vocal teacher Rosemary Harden.
“They really touch on some very deep feelings,” said Gravendick, referring to Wooly’s music.
Have a listen to Wooly’s music at www.woolyband.ca. Tickets for the May 31 show are $20 each. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. that evening and the show starts at 7 p.m. For tickets, contact the Arbor Gallery Cultural Centre at 613-518-2787.
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