Tag Archives: Wesleyan University

Terry Brannigan: It’s “Time” For Gillham’s Debut Album

Some Westporters know Terry Brannigan as an Eagle Scout. Others think of him as a former Staples High School wrestling star.

Perhaps one day the rest of the world may celebrate him for his music.

The 2020 Staples grad is now a Wesleyan University sophomore. He’s double majoring in physics and music. He’s minoring in IDEAS (Integrated Design, Engineering and Applied Science). He’s a varsity wrestler (125 pounds).

And he’s just released his first album. Which (of course!) he created entirely himself, in his dorm room.

Terry Brannigan’s “studio.”

He wrote every song. He played live instruments (after teaching himself bass and piano — he already knew guitar). He sang. He mixed, mastered and produced it all (after figuring out how to use the Ableton program).

And — why not? — he designed the album cover too

Terry Brannigan created all the “Gillham” art.

“Gillham” — that’s Terry’s middle name; it’s both the album title and his stage name — traces its roots back to Terry’s first guitar, at 7. He joined School of Rock, but did not take music seriously until the summer after 11th grade 

He and a friend formed the band Verbatim (it included his younger brother Eamon). They played a few gigs, at venues from bars to Barnes & Noble.

Terry Brannigan

A turning point for Terry was taking Advanced Placement Music Theory with Luke Rosenberg. The Staples choral director gave Terry “another way to look at and appreciate music,” he says.

Balancing school, music, wrestling and Boy Scouts was not easy. Terry was grateful to have two escapes — arts and sports — from the stresses of teenage life. They use different sides of the brain, he notes, and balance each other out.

Throughout high school, Terry wrote songs. Last year, stuck in his Wesleyan dorm room for long stretches during COVID, he worked in earnest on his music.

“I’d sit in the same chair for 6 or 7 hours — class, homework, music, eating dinner at my desk,” Terry says. “I was having a really weird relationship with time.” He began writing songs with that theme.

At first, Terry admits, it was hard  to write about personal feelings. “Is it too much information? Why would anyone care?” he wondered. But, he notes, “it’s easier, and a lot more fun, to write something you care about.”

The hardest part of making an album was not the lyrics or melody. It was production.

“There’s so much to learn,” says Terry. He taught himself Ableton Live — a digital audio workstation. “There’s an infinite number of sounds and instruments. When I figure out how to get something to sound the way I want it to, I’m grateful.”

Terry Brannigan: Westport and Wesleyan’s music man, in Nashville.

He’s produced an impressive debut album. That theme of “time” runs through nearly every track, mutating and reprising often. The more you listen to “GIllham,” the more you appreciate Terry’s insights, subtleties and nuances.

After the next tough part — promotion — Terry will turn to another musical project.

He’ll fit it in along with his very demanding courses at Wesleyan. And his equally tough wrestling schedule.

Terry Brannigan is a many of many talents. And — somehow — he’ll find “time.”

(“Gillham” by Gillham is available on Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming platforms.)

If Terry Brannigan is not making music or studying, you’ll find him on the wrestling mat.

Unrest At Wes

For decades, Wesleyan University has been a favorite destination for Staples grads.

From pushing for the establishment of a black student union in the 1960s, to advocating for need-blind admissions in the ’90s and gender-neutral housing a few years later, “Wes” students have been in the forefront of many progressive issues.

DKEThese days, the hot-button issue is fraternities. Several months ago — responding to allegations of sexual assaults in fraternity houses — administrators ordered 2 on-campus fraternities to admit women as members and residents. Delta Kappa Epsilon’s plan — allowing women to live in the house, but not as members — was rejected by the university. Now DKE is suing.

Scott Karsten — Staples ’70, Wesleyan ’74, and a member of the chapter’s alumni group which has owned the frat house since 1888 — is the public face of that lawsuit.

According to the Hartford Courant, Karsten said that DKE has evolved in recent years. He noted that although there were previous problems with the house, it was not part of the allegations of sexual assault at 2 other Wesleyan fraternities.

Wesleyan“We believe the kids in there now are kids who represent the very best values at Wesleyan,” Karsten said.

“They are being scapegoated because they choose to live with the folks they choose to live with, unlike everyone else at Wesleyan who gets to choose who they live with.”

The complaint against Wesleyan — filed at Superior Court in Middletown — notes that the university offers many residence houses, based on characteristics such as “gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and other protected class characteristics.”

Scott Karstein

Scott Karsten

Karsten added, “discrimination is abhorrent in whatever form it may exist. President (Michael) Roth’s pursuit of selective discrimination is an egregious example of political correctness gone wrong, and does a disservice to the high ideals upon which Wesleyan was founded.”

Karsten was a noted wrestler at Staples and Wesleyan. According to the website of Karsten & Tallberg, he graduated 3rd in his class at the University of Connecticut School of Law. Before that he served as a police officer, and was president of the West Hartford police union.

A court date has been set for March 9.