INDEPENDENCE DAY
What: Rare Form in concert
Where: Bingham Park bandstand
When: Wed., July 4 after the 12 p.m. parade
Cost: Free

HAWLEY - Within Wayne County exists a tight knit community of artists ranging from silk screen workers, to sculptors, to classic painters.

Although it may not be a secret that Wayne County is home to a considerable amount of talented artists such as, silkscreen artist Rip Bodman, and painter, Juan Espino, there is also an active community of local singers, musicians, and song writers in the area that has been growing over the past ten years or so. Among the list of local talent is the Band Rare Form.

Rare Form is a group that originated in April of 2015. The band usually performs as a three or four piece group, however, due partially to the fact that other members do not have the time to play with the group consistently, at its core, Rare Form is comprised primarily of members, Gabby Borges (on drums and vocals) and Jason Merrill (on lead guitar and lead vocals). Lately, the group has been performing with local bassist, Joey Aikens.

The group plays a host of cover songs from a variety of different genres. They also have a fair amount of original tracks that they are known to mix into their sets when they perform live.

“Whatever we enjoy”

According to Merrill, “The group plays whatever we enjoy,” and therefore, they play quite a wide variety of music. Jason stated that he would describe his own personal style as a blend of grunge, funk, soapy rock, and monolithic sound with hints of anger. His primary musical influences come from groups such as Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, and John Lennon. Although he does not have a chance to play in the genre that often, Merrill also has roots in the Jazz genera which can be heard in his music as well.

Borges, on the other hand, categorizes her music and style in the Indy genre. Borges’ primary musical influences are Amy Weinhouse and Bob Dylan.

She tries to incorporate elements of jazz and soul in her music, and also loves creating imagery through her lyrics.

Merrill and Borges are also members of The Gabby Borges Band where Borges steps in on lead vocals and rhythm guitar. Although the groups have been known to perform at the same venues in the past, The Gabby Borges Band has also played in areas such as, New York City, Philadelphia, Scranton, and local venues as well.

Rare Form, however, often frequents local venues in Wayne County. Local eateries such as Ledges/ Glass have been welcoming the group back with open arms for years now. Silver Birches has also been booking Merrill for performances since he moved back to the area in 2007.

Jason stated that having a good relationship with the owners of a venue makes all of the difference in the world as a band/musician.

Rare Form has their entire summer completely booked with shows at this point. They plan to perform at a few bars in Scranton including, The V Spot and Ale Mary’s and they also have a few local shows coming up including the annual Fourth of July Bandstand performance.

Bingham Park 

Merrill and local musician, Steve Faubel started the annual Fourth of July Band Stand jam back in 2010. Each year, immediately following the Fourth of July parade, Merrill and Faubel hold a live musical performance in Bingham Park's gazebo. Instead of a strict lineup, it was Faubel’s idea to make the performance more along the lines of a collaborative jam session. Therefore, any and all musicians are welcome to join in the fun.

It is the belief of both Merrill and Faubel that the best way to follow the July Fourth theme of freedom, is through artistic expression.

The time of the performance each year is not down to an exact science, however, it usually takes place at around 1 p.m. The performance begins immediately after the parade ends so it all depends on when the parade comes to a conclusion. (The parade steps off at noon.)

The Hawley carnival begins at 1 p.m. in Bingham Park.

Merrill is highly devoted to bringing the community together, especially through the use of music. He stated that although local events such as the July Fourth Band Stand and even the Earth Day jam session are a way to get people together and spread the word about local events that are happening in the area.

Coming back to Hawley

Merrill is originally from Long Island, NY and has pursued music in several more populated, city areas, however, he always finds himself coming back to the town of Hawley. Initially, Jason felt the connectedness of the town of Hawley to be a bit strange at first because of the fact that everybody seems to know one another. Jason stated, “I did think that it was awkward that people would wave to you for instance.” However, over time, Merrill has come to love the connectedness of the area and truly feels that it is an inspiring place to live.

Although Wayne County is considered to be a reasonably small area (compared to places like Philadelphia and New York City), Merrill feels that the region is actually ideal for musicians, not just for the area’s natural beauty, but also because of the connection shared by everyone living locally.

To both Borges and Merrill, Hawley is the perfect place for artists and musicians to build a sense of community, which can and should only be built upon. Merrill stated, “There is plenty of potential here for more and more music.”

Merrill has also played at regular local events including Music in the park, over in Honesdale’s Central Park. The Wayne County Creative Arts Council holds live performances in Honesdale’s Central Park each year, and in the past, Jason performed there with local musician Rowan Lynch. Although Rare Form usually misses the deadline for Music in the Park, they would love to perform at the event again eventually.

Merrill has also performed at the Honesdale Roots and Rhythm event on several different occasions (one of the times he was accompanied by Borges).

Noise pollution

In regards to local music events, such as the July Fourth Bandstand and even Milford Music Fest, Merrill stated, “All of these festivals are super important and without being overly intrusive, I would love to see these local festivals run later and for the music to be played louder.”

Merrill, of course, recognizes the potential issue of noise pollution and would not want to upset anyone. However, he would love to see at least a taste of the late night festival feeling that can found in cities like Montreal.

Merrill used to feel as though he was the only one in the area with aspirations of pursuing music, however, he quickly realized that this is not the case.

At this point, local businesses looking to host open mic events have a good amount of options to choose from when it comes to assistance from local musicians. Merrill and his wife, Jill Carletti have been running an open mic event at the local coffee house, The Cocoon in recent years.

The couple recently purchased a house and has been working on renovating the new place and converting their new garage into a legitimate, professional recording studio. Since this has been occupying a considerable amount of their time collectively, local musicians including Bob Tellefsen, Sage Clearing, and Borges have stepped in to host the event in their place. Therefore, at this time, there are a lot of people willing to work together for music as well as the community at large.

Networking

Despite the fact that networking has worked out for Rare Form, this is actually somewhat surprising to Merrill. Merrill explained that although networking in Hawley has grown to be both effective and consistent, often times, networking in smaller towns and areas can be a hindrance on musicians. In small towns, there is often more competition between local musicians and groups to book gigs and steal the spotlight from one another.

According to Merrill, at times, musicians competing to book the same gigs is similar to, “-dogs fighting for scraps.” Even though having a competitive nature is important in the music industry, Merrill and Borges feel lucky to have been able to help build such a good relationship with other local musicians.

Another way that the members of Rare Form are trying to build on the local music community is through the use of their new recording studio. Merrill and Carletti are now the owners of Studio 451 located in Hawley. Merrill’s mission is to help other musicians who have their own original music, record their work professionally. Although Merrill and Borges’ primary focus is working on and progressing with their own groups, they are enjoying their time working with others and excited to help other musicians record their original tunes.

Merrill explained that Gabby has been a major help when it comes to studio work. They recently recorded a live video of the Gabby Borges Band song titled, Audio Tree. Borges explained that she enjoyed having a chance to record the song professionally with both audio and video in the studio, and would love to continue doing this with songs in the future.

Despite the fact that Rare Form is enjoying their time recording with other local musicians, they plan on keeping their vision to continue progressing as a group.

For more information about Rare Form, follow their page on Facebook. The group always keeps a detailed list of the dates, times, and locations of their upcoming events and shows.