Student musicians perform at Writers House

The Daily Pennsylvanian Interactive
January 21, 1999

In the midst of Greek Rush and while many students were hurrying in the cold to parties, all was calm in the Writers House, where students gathered for a cozy evening of music last Saturday night. College Senior David Lavin performed several original songs as well as covers of artists ranging from Bob Dylan, to the Grateful Dead, to B.B. King and to Beck, during the event entitled Bluegrass Evening with David Lavin and friends.

Lavin sang to a steadily increasing crowd as students dropped by throughout the night to attend the music performance sponsored by the Kelly Writers House. While several friends joined him for certain songs, Lavin insisted the ensemble is not his band. According to Writers House Resident Coordinator Heather Starr, the organization will try to hold more events of this type on Saturday nights, "to provide an alternative to the frat scene." Starr pointed out the comfortable atmosphere of the event, allowing the "well-behaved" crowd to "listen to music and enjoy the fire." Lavin's performance of Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" was a particular popular number with spectators.

College Senior Amiee Kocis, who seemed entranced by the music, could be heard singing along to Lavin in the audience. "I like it when his voice gets soft and soulful," she said. At the start of the performance, Lavin apologized to those expecting a bluegrass evening because he claimed that was not what he specifically played. College Senior Jay Keyes defined bluegrass as "acoustic music driven by the banjo and the mandolin." Some of Lavin's friends did use those instruments, but only in certain songs. In other numbers, Lavin played the eclectic guitar which Nursing Freshman Jennifer Tobon said reminded her of Nirvana. Lavin's voice ranged in loudness but never grew harsh. This was exhibited in his cover of the Grateful Dead's "Brown-eyed Women" which drew loud applause from the spectators.

Accompanying Lavin on a few songs were College seniors Jay Keyes on guitar, Jeff Barkoff on mandolin, Dan Rosen on harmonica, and Jimmy Friedlander on piano. Keyes' voice provided a contrast to Lavin's low tone, accompanying his friend in another Dylan cover, "You Ain't Going Nowhere." As to the choice of the obscure song, Keyes claimed Lavin was a Dylan encyclopedia. Lavin spent three semesters last year studying music theory and song writing at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. He wrote songs mostly about travel, love, gain, loss, which he viewed as the "traditional handful of themes out there in music." Lavin said he wrote when he was down because there was nothing to say while on top of the world. Though the songs he performs are about him, he said he hoped the audience could relate to them as well.