When guitarist Nathan Hallman and electric mandolin player Will Ruff met through Vampr, a local musician-finding app in 2017, the two knew right away they wanted their music to extend beyond a duo of college students playing in Ruff’s living room in Athens, Georgia. Recruiting Ruff’s music school classmates Quentin Smith to play the bass, drummer Josh Siar and saxophonist Jacob Selvaggi to expand their sound, the jazz band The Family Recipe was formed with a mission to focus on fun, friendship and funky music.
With original songs, entitled “Mushroom for Improvement,” “Side Eyes” and “Uptown Down,” each of the five members in the group bring their own unique contribution to the process of creating the band’s blend of jazz, jam and blues. Starting with a simple suggestion then allowing each member to add their own creative spin to create the finished product, The Family Recipe’s lyrics are a completely collective process, according to Ruff, a University of Georgia senior from Atlanta.
“We’re not trying to do anything which is why it works,” Ruff said. “We just write one song at a time.”
Consistent with the band’s values of inclusion and unity, the name The Family Recipe reflects the band’s desire to avoid any hierarchy between the five musicians and to create a personal connection with its audiences.
The band’s charisma, which Ruff said was a key part of the selection process of members aside from musical talent, is apparent through the acceptance of each member’s contribution to the group. Remarking Siar’s constant tardiness and Selvaggi’s habit of eating during rehearsal and fondness for performing in shimmering suits, Ruff appreciates the different ingredients each member adds.
Smith, a UGA senior bass performance major and Ruff both agreed that the group’s atmosphere on stage omits an ego to encourage camaraderie in the confines of their performance space.
“There’s a family aspect to it. At our shows we don’t try to have any professional barrier between us and the audience,” Smith said. “That’s not really our vibe.”
The Family Recipe’s favorite environment to perform in is at house parties where it can be situated on the same level as its listeners and get to provide free entertainment for the group's peers. The band will make its first debut at the 40 Watt Club on Sept. 6, and with the addition of the UGA music business student and vocalist Amanda Rockenbach to the band, Smith expects the show’s set consist of the band’s original work and a number of cover songs, which will be a recipe for success.
“I’m pretty confident that we’re gonna deliver,” Smith said. “I have faith in all of us as musicians. It’s gonna be a really great time.”