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GVL / Archive Crossbow

Stacy Sabaitis

When first meeting CrossBow, the connection between all of the 13 members might not be immediately apparent, but most of them have known each other for years.

The Celtic music group is made up of 13 Grand Valley State University students ranging from sophomores to seniors, including: Violinists Carly Meloche, Alena Leshner, Brandy Alexander, Steve Lesko and Ross Argir, acoustic guitarist Antonio Militello, mandolin player Anna Dorsey, banjo player Tyler Wiewiora, vocalist and guitarist Clare Cavicchio, clarinetist Adam McMillan, bassist Mark Pierce, percussionist Ethan Noga, and electric guitarist Alec McGuire.

Meloche’s interest in Celtic music began with the Chelsea House Orchestra and at Chelsea High School, which she attended with Lesko, Argir and Alexander. For Lesko, it was their orchestra director that sparked his interests.

“He was very Scottish, ” Lesko said. “So he was going to festivals all the time and started the group about fifteen years ago, and then we came into high school and we all really liked it for different reasons.”

Meloche said being raised in Chelsea helped develop their liking for Celtic music.

“We came from a town where Celtic music was kind of the norm,” Meloche said. “Celtic music is a very obscure thing, you know, most people didn’t even know what Celtic meant in terms of music.”
The group didn’t plan to attend GVSU together, though.

“It was just kind of by coincidence that we all ended up at Grand Valley together, and we wanted to continue making the same kind of music together,” Meloche said. The thirteen members officially became CrossBow in October 2011. Meloche said her dad thought of the group’s name.

“It was kind of one of those things where we’re already here, we might as well get together,” Lesko said. But when they first got together, they had no idea what their future held.

“We thought it was going to be a couple of friends going and just having a jam session every night,” Lesko said. “Then we started playing on campus and we got our first gig at something called the Corn Festival at Albion. It was not a fun time – it was about 36 degrees that day.”

But Lesko said it was fun for them to play. “It was a weird gig,” Lesko said.

Then the group began to add more members, as they increased their playing venues.

“It really jump-started after that gig, and the more that we played on campus, the more interest there was with the group and we picked up Mark, our bass player that way, and Anna, our mandolin player,” Lesko said. “We picked them both up last year just by playing around, and since then it’s grown to 13 people.”

To decide whom to add, Cavicchio said the group held auditions and “…pulled people in that way.”

“I think we were all, like, pleasantly surprised with the positive reaction that we got,” Meloche said.

The group has traveled and played gigs all over Michigan, and they hope to go in farther to play in Indiana and Illinois.

“We’re open to traveling to other states, too,” Lesko said.

Playing the Chelsea High School auditorium was bittersweet for them, but Lesko said it wasn’t their favorite. “The winery in Jackson is probably our favorite place to play, and where we played the most,” Lesko said. “We did it about once a month over the summer after playing there for Saint Patrick’s Day and they loved us, so they kept hiring us back.”

Lesko said in the future, the group would like to play at the Celtic festival in Ontario, Canada, or on Mackinac Island. The group is open to playing anywhere in the Midwest, he said.

“We’re always looking for new stuff,” Lesko said. “We’re pretty much open to any kind of venue.”

For Dorsey, being in CrossBow is more than just playing music – it’s about making memories with friends.

“I feel like these are some of the best friends that I’m going to make in college,” Dorsey said.

“I would say our friendship is quite dynamic and crazy,” Pierce said.

Lesko said there is a possibility the group will open up for one of the a cappella groups on campus this fall, while continuing to play informal concerts on GVSU’s Allendale campus.

For more information on CrossBow and upcoming events, go to their Facebook page at
[email protected]