Master Class at the Cat with Chris Eldridge ’04

Punch Brothers guitarist guides student bands as part of two-day residency.

October 9, 2023

Genevieve Dilan

Chris Eldridge, seated at a cafe table, gesturing towards a music ensemble off-frame.
Chris Eldridge ’04 offers guidance to bands onstage at the Cat in the Cream coffeehouse during a conservatory master class.
Photo credit: Genevieve Dilan

Grammy Award-winning guitarist and singer Chris Eldridge ’04 returned to Oberlin for a brief residency that included a band workshop at the Cat in the Cream on the afternoon of October 6. Two student bands, Cast-Iron Cornbread (made up of Sasha Paris-Carter, Cashel Day-Lewis, Max Allard, Francesca Neibel-Spruill, and Ellie Rui) and the Yard Salers (Jace Mason, Otto Allard, Max Allard, Katie Galt, and Eva Paddock) prepared original compositions and their takes on the classics.

Eldridge listened and offered feedback, emphasizing the ways that conversational and unreserved expressive qualities of music can help the bands find their voices and their connections with one another. He urged them to push their limits in performance and find the extremes of their sound. “There’s something beyond just nailing pitch or rhythm,” said Eldridge, a founding member of Punch Brothers who has served as a visiting faculty member at Oberlin. “It’s inflection, and timbre, and arguably, the most important thing is communicating that amongst each other.”

Eldridge’s residency also included a career Q&A presented by the Conservatory deans office and the College of Arts and Sciences’ musical studies major.

Drop in on the bands’ experience in these clips below.

From left: Members of Yard Salers, fiddle player from Cast-Iron Cornbread, and members of Cast-Iron Cornbread. All of the musicians in the two bands are majoring in various disciplines in the conservatory. 

Genevieve Dilan is a fifth-year double-degree student in vocal studies and psychology. She is a correspondent for the Conservatory Communications Office.

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