Charlottesville has always been a town full of music. From musical acts like the Hullabahoos Acapella group, the UVA Pep Band, to the Dave Matthews Band, Virginia and its surrounding areas have produced troves of fantastic musicians. The new band on the scene – Loose Leaf.
Loose Leaf is a typical five-man lineup featuring two guitars, bass, drums, and lead vocals. Jacob Smith, a third-year from Richmond, Virginia studying computer science, provides the vocals and acts as the band’s frontman. The guitars are played by the formidable duo of third-year Batten student Christian Tessier from Charlottesville and Tim Langlois, a second-year student from Paris, France. The rhythm section consists of Joe Dorgan on the Drums and Evan DiCosmo on the Bass. Joe is a fourth-year economics major also from Charlottesville and Evan is a second-year computer science engineering major also from Richmond.
When I asked the guys how they all met, the answer was through University Records. Joe and Christian have known each other and had played previously with one another. They found Jacob and Evan. Those four would go through two previous guitar players before they found Tim and completed the lineup.
The band played their first gig in the fall of 2022 and has been consistently rocking every weekend since. The boys were planning on starting out playing for free to boost their brand and get their name in the UVA music conversation. Instead, they got a last-minute chance to start their career by opening up at the Kappa Sigma fraternity. While the band only played for about an hour, they rocked out. Drummer Joe Dorgan said, “It was a huge confidence booster on the first gig to see the people we were opening for taking videos of us.” That hour of music put Loose Leaf immediately into the Charlottesville music scene.
What music do they play? That question can only be answered by first understanding their music tastes. Christian and Tim love the Grateful Dead, Joe is a country boy at heart, Evan a mixed bag, taking influence from metal and what he describes as “Grateful Dead adjacent,” and Jacob loves the folk singer-songwriter approach. All of these different tastes in music culminate into one unique and incredibly diverse setlist. From Taylor Swift to Jimi Hendrix, Loose Leaf knows no limits.
When the band started at the beginning of last year, the boys each put up two songs that they wanted the band to play. Beyond those ten songs, the rest of the setlist was filled in with party classics such as “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. The Loose Leaf live catalog is highlighted by a very mixed bag of songs including “Whipping Post” by the Allman Brothers, “Voodoo Child” by Hendrix, “Tennessee Whiskey” a country classic popularized by Chris Stapleton, “Fire on the Mountain” by the Grateful Dead, and so much more. Surprisingly when asked what the band thought their best song was, the response was “Love Story” by Taylor Swift. Sung in a different key to accommodate Jacob whose range doesn’t quite match that of T Swift and backed by electric guitars; Loose Leaf gives “Love Story” a party-friendly, high-energy take on a pop classic.
Loose Leaf also prides itself on being a jam band. The band has a unique ability to draw out solos into long entertaining instrumental sections. The soloing is driven by a dual lead guitar sound. Tim wielding his classic Les Paul played through a vintage style Fender Brown Face amp, rips down high-energy, fast-paced solos. On the other hand, Christian playing a PRS McCarty through a Fender Silver Face is more of a melodic, emotional soloist. The musicality of the band is held very tightly by Joe and Evan in the rhythm section, keeping the guys working as a unit. Evan on an Ibanez six-string even gets in on the action often soloing underneath Christian and Tim. The result of this: one hell of a good sound. The guys in Loose Leaf did it right, investing in sub-amps that produce a “Throbbing kind of mixture” as described by Tim, and ensuring that all of the Mad Bowl can hear the boys rocking out wherever they may be playing.
As a student, there is just so much to love about this band. Loose Leaf brings a palpable energy to every event and a seasoned experience that means it will not only be a great time but also a tight musical package. With original music on the near horizon and a few more years of runway, Loose Leaf is ready to come out and dominate the Charlottesville music scene. Loose Leaf has already had some epic moments, playing the Jefferson Theater, Midsummers, and what they describe as their best gig playing while fireworks exploded behind them. Led by Jacob Smith, the stage presence is unbelievable and can be felt through the crowd. Loose Leaf is the ultimate party band, so if you ever find yourself on the Corner and hear five guys rocking out to T. Swift, follow your ears and you will not be disappointed.