2011-09-22 / News

Trio of college roommates continue to jam


Derek Delahunt, left, 23, of North Kingstown, and former Jamestowner Ben Taylor, 22, talk about their band Chukka at East Ferry. The third member of the band is Andres Aveledo, who still resides on the island. 
PHOTO BY MARGO SULLIVAN Derek Delahunt, left, 23, of North Kingstown, and former Jamestowner Ben Taylor, 22, talk about their band Chukka at East Ferry. The third member of the band is Andres Aveledo, who still resides on the island. PHOTO BY MARGO SULLIVAN Three friends went away to college, shared a house and started a band. That’s the story behind the Jamestown group Chukka, according to band members Ben Taylor, Derek Delahunt and Andres Aveledo.

If you missed their act last weekend at Newport’s Ballard Park, you’ll probably have a chance to hear them play soon, Delahunt, 23, said.

“Keep your ear to the street,” he quipped because Chukka is ramping up its performance schedule, even though all band members are juggling day jobs.

Taylor, 22, and a University of Rhode Island senior, is studying environmental science; Delahunt recently graduated from URI with a geology degree. He works at Aqua Science in Wyoming, R.I.

Aveledo, also 23 and a URI alumnus, is putting his civil engineering expertise to work for his hometown, mapping storm water drainage for the Jamestown Public Works Department. He started the project this summer as an intern and stayed on as a temporary employee, he said.

Although they all are launching professional careers, they intend to continue making music, they said.

“I just enjoy this whole musicmaking process,” Aveledo said.

Aveledo and Taylor started playing in bands while still middle school students at Lawn Avenue School. But they didn’t hook up until later, said Taylor.

“It was funny,” Aveledo said. He started out with a neighborhood band that needed someone on bass. He didn’t want to play bass, he said, but he finally agreed. Shortly after, the neighborhood band drifted apart. But Aveledo stuck with music and eventually played with Delahunt at North Kingstown High School.

“Derek and I had been playing together since high school,” Aveledo said, but they played only instrumental music.

“We were all making music,” Taylor said. Then, at the University of Rhode Island, they shared a Matunuck apartment. That started a new chapter for their music.

When Taylor moved in, they started writing lyrics, Aveledo said.

According to Taylor, once they were living together, they focused on performing together, instead of “just messing around.”

And they couldn’t make too many excuses about not jamming, Delahunt added.

“It wasn’t like we had to get together to practice,” he said.

They play a blend of experimental music and classic folk music, and all three musicians contribute on several instruments, including banjo, guitar, piano and bass drums.

Everybody plays all the instruments “at least a little bit,” Taylor said, and they all sing, although Delahunt and Taylor do most of the vocals.

Delahunt and Taylor described the sound as a “mix of old and new, an old taste with a new flair.”

But they also play some “wacky” songs that defy efforts to pin them down in one style, Aveledo said.

“We’re not trying to go into a whole different world,” Taylor said, but they do want Chukka to sound unique.

The group writes all of its own music, but they have different approaches. “We all come from different musical backgrounds,” said Aveledo, who at age 12 moved to Jamestown from Venezuela.

“I can’t really just pick a key,” Aveledo said. “For me songwriting is one of those things I can’t force upon myself. Inspiration comes whenever it decides.”

Taylor said song ideas come all day long. “It’s always in the back of our minds,” he said.

Delahunt, the North Kingstown native, likes to play around with the guitar until he hears something he likes.

“A melody grows in your head,” Delahunt said.

One of their older pieces, “Last Leaves,” developed while Taylor and Delahunt were hanging out together and playing music.

“We were just jamming,” Taylor said. It was sunset in winter and Delahunt happened to glance at a fi- cus in Taylor’s room. The leaves had dropped on the floor.

“Last leaves,” Delahunt said. “Ben started writing lyrics.”

Taylor and Delahunt said they tend to perform their newest songs, even though an audience may expect them to play one of their standbys. Sometimes they do play a crowd pleaser. But, Taylor said, most of the time they’re not that interested in playing something they wrote months or even a few years ago.

“It’s not like we hate the crowd or anything,” Taylor said, but the band tends to move on after releasing songs.

“We’re not living in the past,” Delahunt said. He explained that every time they write a new song, they’re “most proud” of it.

“Everything that comes out, we’re most proud of, even if it hasn’t been heard yet,” Delahunt said.

“We just like to play what we like to play,” Taylor added. He and Delahunt produced a couple of new songs over the summer, he said, and added their best work is always the song they’ve just written.

“Each song really has its own place and meaning within our band,” Aveledo said, as he also declined to name one favorite piece.

Ironically, the biggest challenge so far has been naming the band.

Chukka is the name of a skate shoe, Taylor said.

“We didn’t name the band after a shoe,” he said. “We just liked the name.” They liked the word’s sound particularly. In fact, they liked saying chukka so much, they used it as an all-purpose word when they couldn’t think of the word they meant.

“The word evolved as part of our daily usage,” Delahunt said, until they sprinkled a lot of conversation.

“I chukka love that,” Taylor said to give an example.

“If you don’t speak English,” Delahunt quipped, “it sounds almost better.”

Delahunt said people who’d like to sample Chukka can hear them on Facebook and on MySpace. For more information about the group and band appearances, call Delahunt at 258-2869.

Taylor and Delahunt also have another venture, dubbed Channel 9. They started it last summer on a trip to Montana.

“It’s for the real die-hard fans,” Delahunt said. He described Channel 9 as “more experimental” than Chukka. Find them at myspace.com/ Channel9music.

Jamestown remains the official Chukka hometown, even though two of the three musicians, Delahunt and Taylor, now live in North Kingstown. Taylor grew up in Jamestown, and his family still lives on the island. (His mother Julia recently returned home after an around the world sailing adventure.) Aveledo is a Jamestown resident.

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