From the eccentric flair of Llamapalooza to students picking guitars on porches, Colorado College is, without a doubt, a campus inclined towards music. Events like the upcoming Battle of the Bands demonstrate the talent of the student body in addition to their passion for sharing it with the community. The question is, how many of these Tigers will pursue their musical careers after CC? Despite the common idiom, “the life of an artist is never easy,” for many, it is a draw too powerful to ignore. CC alumnus Galen Green, class of 2005, sheds some light on his journey from CC into the music world and his drive to form The Wooks.
Green was an English major and Modern Mexican Studies minor at CC; the majority of his musical involvement was extracurricular. “I played electric mandolin in a jam band called ‘Fruit of the Loomis’ with a bunch of kids from—you guessed it—Loomis,” said Green. “We won Battle of the Bands our sophomore year over this kick-ass senior band called Loveseat, and we got the opening slot for Soulive as a result at Llama.”
During his junior and senior year, Green took up the acoustic mandolin. Keith Reed helped him to learn the ropes of the bluegrass world. Green looks back on his final years with fond memories of the collaborative music scene. “Moving away from specific bands, it transitioned into projects that never had a name other than ‘that band that’s playing at 1111 Wahsatch this weekend,” said Green. “These were the best aspects of the CC music community; it became a cohesive unit at the end of four years.” Green’s passion for the mandolin inspired him to establish the Kentucky-based acoustic band, The Wooks, along with fiddler Jesse Wells, guitarist CJ Cain, stand-up bassist Roddy Puckett, and banjo player Arthur Hancock. Most of The Wooks are native Kentuckians and veterans of the Cumberland Plateau region bluegrass scene, so making bluegrass tunes was second nature for them. “Arthur and I had been talking about what kind of band to form over the years,” said Green. “We liked so many different kinds of music that we settled on what kind of instrumentation to go with instead, and figured we’d let the style of music do what it would based on the musicians at hand.” The Wooks came together in the last five years, but the dream arose long before. Hancock and Green started playing together in high school, and continued to jam as a duo until Green moved to Kentucky and “The Wooks started wookin’.”
Green credits CC with his development as a musician, naming the Block Plan itself as a key motivator. “The Block Plan forces you to adapt over and over again,” said Green. “And what you don’t realize while you’re doing that is how the process in and of itself is just as much, if not more, of a real world prep as the content of the classes.”
Although CC lacks a renowned music program, Green argues that what CC does offer is more valuable. “I can’t really think of another school that is more beneficial to a growing musician or artist than CC, or at least the kind of musician that I wanted to become,” he said. “You’ve got Berklee, sure, but the problem with Berklee is that the vast majority of the curriculum is music, so you get some people coming out of there that literally don’t know anything else. CC makes sure that its kids come out well-rounded.” In addition to helping him become a well-balanced individual, Green says that CC taught him how to relax while performing. “I did all the typical CC student musician shows on campus over the years—Llama, Ice Age, Blues and Brews, etc.,” Green reflected. “These were great because they had built-in crowds and forced you to get over any nerves you might have.” After playing in front of crowds exceeding a thousand spectators, Green better understands the value of this experience. “At CC, people love music so much and are so supportive that I never had to worry about this sort of thing,” he admitted.
Green hopes for more interaction between The Wooks and the CC community in the future. “As far as connecting with CC, I just hope some folks come out to the Gold Room to see us Saturday!” he said with enthusiasm. “Musician or no, it’d be great to talk with some CC kids about their experience and help any way I can.” Green hopes to return to campus someday with The Wooks in tow. “Ideally, I’d like The Wooks to play a show somewhere on campus,” he said. “To whom it may concern: our spring of ’18 is currently open during the weekend of Llama!”
To the aspiring musicians at CC, Green recommends taking advantage of the recordings tucked away in the Music Library and exploring different types of music. “If a pathway unfolds in front of you that you enjoy walking on, don’t pass it up just because it isn’t what you’re used to,” he said. “If you have a musical or academic specialization, chances are, it will be enriched by branching out and doing something different for a while.” From late-night jamming in the Mathias basement to watching the Doobie Brothers preform at Llama, Green treasures his CC musical experience. Reflecting on his time at CC, he appreciates the valuable lessons he learned from the Block Plan and the variety of opportunity a liberal arts education offers. His words are worth committing to memory for at least four years: “Enjoy your time at CC; it goes fast!”
The Wooks play this Saturday, April 15 from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at The Gold Room on Nevada.