CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – Band members describe their sound as “funk and rock with elements of soul—a mix of ’70s psychedelic rock and ’90s grunge.” The group is anchored by lead vocalist and John Jay High School sophomore Tara Curran, a gutsy young singer who considers Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Janis Joplin and Christina Aguilera among her musical influences.
Gilbert is their name and guitarist Justin Giacchetto, a North Salem High School senior, explained how the band chose the moniker.
“Early 2016, we started to perform together,” he said. “We didn’t really have a name and put a bunch down on paper—Gilbert sounded a little catchy—it wasn’t too serious and it kind of stuck.”
The gigs kept coming and now the band is regularly booked (and gets paid) to play at many area restaurants and bars. They have appeared at various New York venues, including Paramount Hudson Valley, the Winery at St. George and the Towne Crier, and have even performed on the “Wonderama” television show and at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City.
In addition to Curran and Giacchetto, members are North Salem High School junior Wilson Yarnall (bass), Eddie Fiscella, also a junior (keyboards), and the youngest is Owen Hughes (drummer), a John Jay High School freshman.
Most of the members met at School of Rock in Bedford, where they were honing their individual musical skills. Not only did they recognize the potential in one another’s talents, they realized that friendships and artistic chemistry were forming when they decided to all play together.
“There is a certain camaraderie when you are in a band,” Curran said. “It’s like really nice to be around people you trust and who you are friends with—we’re all good friends and we play out together.”
The band plays cover songs of many classics by the likes of Tina Turner to Led Zeppelin, Rush and the Allman Brothers, in addition to their growing list of original tunes. Giacchetto, who loves to write music, is headed off to college next year and plans to continue to compose songs and study music.
“I like writing music with these guys,” he said. “It’s what I do and what I’m going to school for next year.”
Those on the local music scene are taking notice. Gilbert recently won its second consecutive first-place title in Bandjam, an annual talent competition for middle and high school bands that is held at the Ridgefield Playhouse. On top of that, they recently won a Pleasantville Battle of the Bands competition and earned a spot on stage this summer at the Pleasantville Music Festival.
And when rock star Rob Thomas of Bedford caught their Halloween performance in Katonah, he tweeted: “You guys killed it this Halloween in Katonah!!!! Great band!!! Glad I caught it.”
The band’s momentum and rising success has not stopped them from giving back. On May 5, Gilbert performed at a fundraiser at John Jay High School. Proceeds from the concert, organized by the ArtsALIVE! booster club, were donated to recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and to support arts in the Katonah-Lewisboro School District. They’ve also rocked out for The Justin Veatch Fund, a nonprofit organization that awards music scholarships and provides young artists with musical opportunities.
Though much of their time outside of school is devoted to playing, practicing, performing and writing music, the band members say they have other interests, as well. Eddie loves to go bowling and Justin displays his talents in math, solves Rubik’s cubes and juggles, something the band disclosed over bursts of laughter.
Yarnall says that Gilbert is a huge part of his life and that the past two years have been an extraordinary experience for him.
“Being in a band is a unique musical experience that you can have—working together with a group of people so that you can have a final product, like an album or a show, is so cool,” he said.
“When you are in charge of what you are doing, it helps you grow as a musician; when you can play classic songs in your own way.”
With their combined musical abilities, Gilbert has created a funky and unique vibe. It may be a good idea to catch them playing locally—it could very well be that their “it” factor soon takes them far beyond Katonah.
To follow the band, visit: facebook.com/pg/GilbertTheBand/events.