A YOUNG SINGER and songwriter who hears little symphonies in his head, Ryan Gillam came to Savannah in 2012 from Longview, Texas, to study production design at SCAD. He knew what he wanted, but he didn't know a single person in this town.
“I had been really hankering to make some music with someone else since I came to school,” Gillam says, “and I hadn’t really found anyone yet who seemed to function creatively on a similar wavelength.
“And it’s difficult. Moving from a small town to go to college, it’s difficult to make friends, much less someone that you want to spend a lot of time with working.”
A wickedly talented guitarist and piano player, Gillam also possesses a striking, octave-leaping singing voice. More than anything, he longed for a harmony partner who could keep up with him.
Into his life walked SCAD performing arts major Rebekah Price. “He had never even heard me sing, but he was so convinced that I was great,” recalls Price, whose public music-making was previously limited to church-related programs in her Florida hometown. “I said ‘How do you even know? I could totally be awful.’”
Gillam, who’s not easily swayed, invited Price to sing with him in the basement practice rooms at Crites Hall. She’d learned a few of his songs via Texas-made YouTube videos, so she was ready.
And .... “I was really impressed with Rebekah’s flexibility,” Gillam recalls. “She could replicate the harmonies I came up with. And I was impressed by her ability to be able to add on to it with her own flair and voice.”
Just, like that, they had a band. They came up with a name: Fare the Gap.
Accompanied by drummer Ben Pecorari, Gillam and Price perform his songs (and several co-written with her) using guitar, loops, and synthesized keys. And those expertly-meshed voices.
Fare the Gap shares a bill with Whaleboat April 18 at Hang Fire.
The pairing with Whaleboat is particularly appropriate, since Fare the Gap’s music mines a similar vein of dense, sometimes melancholy pop. Check out the band’s album Giant Whispers: In Color, at farethegap.bandcamp.com.
“My primary source of listening music, for enjoyment, is music from the ‘60s,” says Gillam. “My Dad and I would go to school every morning and it was Beatles, Beatles, Beatles. That type of songwriting is ingrained in me. So whatever I do, that influence is going to be there.”
He’s found a new playground in electronic music and effects. “I don’t know what it is with the electronic element that I love to use so much,” he explains. “Maybe it’s just because it gives you options for a variety of sounds that you don’t have available through traditional instruments.
“Before I’m a vocalist and an instrumentalist, I’m a composer and a songwriter. The thing that I love most is all the different parts. Combining all the different melodies and rhythms.”
Fare the Gap has a big year ahead—after graduation, Gillam and Price plan to move to Los Angeles, where they’re hoping to find work as actors. There’ll be a second, Savannah-recorded Fare the Gap album in the meantime.
Wherever they go, the music will always come first. Price says she’s never forgotten her introduction to Gillam’s talent.
“I had never been in a full band situation that wasn’t a church,” she says. “It was so different. For me, it was a complete re-adjustment.
“It was the kind of music I always liked, but I never had people around me to do it. So I was really excited to be a part of the kind of music that I’d always loved.”
And still more stuff
•Another last-minute booking that looks really interesting: April 23-25, at Dollhouse Productions, it’s The Bachelors, a dramatic play by Caroline V. McGraw. Ian Xavier Mather directs; each performance begins at 7 p.m. Check out the event’s Facebook page for a somewhat mysterious explanation of what it’s all about, Alfie.
• The Athens-based Saint Francis headlines “Will-a-Palooza” May 10 at Coach’s Corner. It’ll be quite a wing-ding (starting at 11 a.m. and going until 10 p.m.), with support from Betsy Kingston & the Crowns, the Train Wrecks and the Eric Culberson Band. Complete with cornhole tournies and food, and other stuff yet to be announced, it’s a benefit for local CPA Will Gruver’s Leukemia and Lymphoma Man of the Year Campaign. Tickets are $15 via brownpapertickets.com.
• Coming in June is an event the City is calling Savannah Blues Weekend. It starts with the return of Blues on Broughton June 6, with the Eric Culberson Band and others (7-10 p.m.) The big deal on June 7 is Art & Soul at City Market, starting at 10 a.m. you-know-where. Rousakis Plaza will be rocking all day, too, under the name Blues, Jazz & BBQ, with live music and ‘cue, glorious cue. With baked beans and Texas Toast, if you please. And sweet tea.
•Voting ends April 23 in Connect’s Best of Savannah poll. Better get to it!