Freshman George Washburne played for a packed Cellar Tuesday night. After beginning with an acoustic set, he was then joined by sophomores Ian Atchison on the bass and Andrew Robie on the drums, junior Owen Hutchinson on the back-up guitar, and high school friend Cody Reifsteck on the saxophone.
As it turned out, most of the crowd was not witnessing Washburnes' music for the first time. Members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity sat front and center, supporting the guy whose has been playing at their lodges for the past three years.
"When George was a sophomore [in high school], I heard him play one of the most amazing musical solos I've ever heard in my life," said senior Ryan Soos. As a brother of a Sig Ep, senior Ben Washburne, the younger Wasborne was making his name known on campus long for his music before he ever enrolled. Being from Charlottesville, he said that he was able to come up fairly regularly to perform.
"We're all out here to support our friend," said Sig Ep sophomore Andrew Lunenburg. "Hopefully he'll continue to play for us more."
But it is not just the Sig Ep brothers that know him anymore. Many students at The Cellar said they were impressed by his performance.
"The first word that comes to mind: unreal," said freshman musician Nick Yeutter as he pointed to George during a guitar solo. "They communicate well, especially since they're just learning his songs."
Another freshman, Sparkman Clark, said that, "George Washburne is nothing less than incredible."
One group said they liked how Washburne was relatable in describing one of his new songs.
"I wrote this on a Sunday afternoon," Washburne said. "It was one of those days when you wake up and all you want to be is 10 years old again."
Some friends of the band said that it was interesting to hear them play to Washburne's music. "They actually all have different [musical] styles," Melissa Ferrante said.
But Jesus Baquiux said that despite their different styles, "they work together very well."
Not only do they have different music backgrounds, but they have only recently started playing together.
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"We've only practiced this set together four or five times," Atchison said. He said that they were still reading the sheet music during the performance.
The band members said that they mostly come from a jazz background, but the set forced them to take on what Washburne describes as a mixture of blues, rock and pop.
All of the musicians from the set are musically involved on campus. Atchison, who also plays the piano and guitar, said that he is a music minor. Hutchinson, a music major, said that he liked to play the saxophone best and Robie said that he wass a member of the Latin Jazz Combo.
The Cellar ensemble was first brought together with Washburne through the University of Richmond's music combo, American Roots. They said that they did not know if a real band will ever be formed, instead just having fun with it for now.
"We want to play and George gives us the opportunity," Hutchinson said.
The saxophonist of the set, Reifsteck, attended VCU.
"[Washburne and I] have been playing together for about three years," Reifsteck said. He said that when Washburne decide to attend UR, they were excited to be close enough to continue playing together. Reifsteck is also the only member from the set that Washburne is sure will be a part of his second record, Washburne said.
"Tonight we played six new songs of the 10 that will be on the second record," Washburne said.
The set also consisted of songs from his old record, "Songs Written Before Bed," and popular covers including Zac Brown Band's "Chicken Fried" and John Mayor's "Gravity." During these covers, Washburne showed his ability to connect with the audience. He encouraged them to sing-a-long and sure enough the crowd joined in loudly.
He said he would like to play a set on campus again in the near future. In the meantime, he encouraged everyone to show their support by checking him out on iTunes.
Contact reporter Caroline Merritt at email@example.com
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