Thursday, October 16, 2003
The 70s funk sounds of Jyemo bring thoughts of the musical "Hair." Their music sounds like Afros and bell-bottoms and big statements about life and society.
For lead singer Jonny "Jyemo" George, it's all about the latter.
"We're a dance band that brings a conscious element to the music," George said. "If you want to forget your troubles and just move to the rhythm, that's fine, but if you want to get some answers to life's troubles, that can happen, too."
George talks in a low, slow voice explaining the troubles of the world and the role his music plays in them.
Jyemo isn't a reggae band, but their "vibe" is similar, he said. "It's not a bang your head, but open your head."
Unlike their like-minded contemporaries, Jyemo is not a jam band, George said. "We're about the song and music and the message. We're not here to show off our skills."
The group just recorded an album, to be released in November, in a friend's studio on a shoestring budget of $5,000.
"That's our style," George said. "We want to keep it on a grass-roots level. We just want to be real."
Jyemo is a six to 11 person band (depending on the day) from Boulder. Each member wandered toward Boulder searching for something musical, as did percussionist and singer Janet Guenther, who came to study African dancing and drumming.
"We definitely have that family vibe going," George said. "So many folks have put energy into this movement we tapped into. It's bigger than just this band."
The "movement" is a push to bring consciousness back to people, he said. "It's been fed to us what we should be thinking."
Big changes are going to happen, he said, and part of what his band is trying to create is a "unifying place where we can all be in those times."
All in their late 20s and early 30s, the members of Jyemo work as full-time musicians. All members play and tour with other bands.
Through Jyemo, their ultimate goal is to "find some culture for our time," George said. "We are one of the first generations that finally realized the whole world is connected. We all traveled around the world to see what vibrates strongest within us."
George has been searching for social change and a spiritual lifestyle since he was a young teenager, he said. "I don't eat meat, and one of my first jobs was with Greenpeace. The more you look, the more you find."
George writes almost all the music that Jyemo plays. "The writings are kind of a meditation. I just want to share a little bit of what has come to me -- in a humble way. I don't want to knock anyone's block off. I just want to link up."
It is unclear how this will translate in a bar atmosphere such as the Tugboat Grill and Pub, where the band plays this weekend.
"Anyplace we can get together, we should get together. If it's at a bar, it's at a bar."