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Music by Namaste - a World Fusion band with two Tunisia RPCVs as members
Music by Namaste - a World Fusion band with two Tunisia RPCVs as members
With a witty and irreverant approach to life and music, Namaste is a World Fusion band that presents music that is both intelligent and fun.
Based in York, Pennsylvania, the band's new album is Colonial Pagoda, and contains "grooves" from around the world. You can get a feel for the "seriously fun" personalities of the band's members in the interview I did with them in late March. Paula: How did the band get together?
Jeff Coleman: I had been playing in a band called "the Moonbillies" with the man known as Bucketman. Bucketman was a friend of Dr Mo, and introduced us. I "sat in" with Namaste one night at rehearsal. I had too much fun, and when the Moonbillies broke up, accepted Dr Mo's offer to join Namaste.
Dave "Mo" Moyar: The original idea of NAMASTE was mine. I had been listening to alot of music from Africa and South America, and found it to be a fabulous alternative to most of the rather lame pop music that was being played by alot of bands in the area. I had been doing jazz gigs with Julian and we had formed a good friendship and musical partnership. Right about this time, Lynn (whom I had known years before) returned from service in the Peace Corps in Tunisia. Both of these guys were ready to try uniting our backgrounds (both culturally and musically) to produce something completely different. We started in the summer of 1991, playing as a trio, occasinally augmenting with other people, but finding musicians willing to go into something like this and share our vision was tough. After about two years of plowing ahead, primarily with the goal of just having fun and being able to do pretty much whatever we wanted to do, Jeff (who had been another friend that played in other bands but hung around alot and seemed to get what we were into) agreed to join. Also the idea of fusing foreign musics with Rock and Roll started to become more popular. We started to take ourselves a bit more seriously and look at doing things right, infusing abit more of ourselves into the music, writing our own songs based on song forms of other cultures, and generally giving direction and focus to the band. We incorporated other drummers and percussionists into the band, (at one time having a friend play plastic buckets) until Jeph met up with us at a gig almost three years ago. This has been the band since then, remaining remarkably stable since that time.
Lynn Stover: Dave "Mo" Moyar had been interested in world music for years. He and I met before I entered the Peace Corps. Having had first hand experience with the music of North and Sub-Saharan Africa, and an interest in combining those sounds with Western sounds, we started discussing the possibilities of a project. Mo and Julian had been performing together. Julian's Latin background seemed to complete the foundation of our trip into the musical woods on a ship called "Namaste".
Jeph Rebert: My tenure with the band began in 1995. At that time, the band wanted to experiment using two percussion players in favor of a set drum player. This percussion combination has worked well to this day. As a conga/bongo/timbalito player, my percussion emphasis is on the latin music we play. I also use hand percussion (e.g., zils and shakere) on the North and South African music also featured by the band.
Paula: What are your musical goals?
Jeff Coleman: I'd like to bring the band to an audience. The band is about something elemental which is missing in a lot of commercial music, but present in much "world" music. We call it fun, but it includes a lot of things- joy, respect for the source of inspiration, ensemble playing, improvisation. One goal is to achieve a state of being able to support ourselves at this while maintaining our sense of fun. But the main goal, I'd say, is to get better and better as a band, to keep learning and growing. And this goal we will retain no matter what our external circumstances.
Dave Moyar: I want to play music that is both appealing and challenging to the listener, and to my self. What we do is in no way intended to be either a copy of, nor an affront to the wonderful music of the cultures that have been an influence to us. I believe what we do is to take the essence of what we hear in this music, what parts of it speak loudest and strongest to us, and reflect it back with our own personal experiences and backgrounds. Artisticly, I want to make a statement that is personal, creative, individualistic, and yet has some kind of universal appeal and statement. I come from a background of playing music (primarily Blues) that's immediate appeal is on an emotional level and is very groove and rythmicaly oriented. The artforms that are most powerful to me come from a mythtical, collective unconscious orientation that speaks to universal symbols. This is the direction I hope the music of NAMASTE takes it's listeners.
Lynn Stover: To use musical styles from all over the world and to have fun with and expand Western pop & groove oriented styles.
Julian Aguirre: A. I'd love to add a lead/front person, horns (sax and trumpet), keyboardist, and kit drummer. As far as my personal musical goals are, I would like to see this band make a go of it so I can spend 8 hrs./day 7 days a week playing. I started playing the classical guitar in 1977 (the year I got married) and have forever been interested in sounds the are different. With this band we aim to do just that.
Paula: Who and/or what are your musical influences?
Jeff Coleman: I'm influenced by just about everybody and everything. I like anything with soul in it, anything with feeling, from Mozart on down. I don't have much interest in anything really rational or highly considered.
Lynn Stover: North and Sub-Saharan musical styles. Latin & Spanish classical styles. Glitter, Glam and Progressive rock styles. (I think he's having fun with us right about now.) Be-Bop, Hip-Hop, and rump-roastin'roots music. Hymn and Gospel styles. Oh yes, and Klezmer.
Dave Moyar: Of course, we are primarily inflluenced by our own life experiences. Each individual bring their own unique perspective into the creative process and the decisions we make andthe responses we have are framed by these experiences. Musicaly, I was formed by playing Blues and R&B as a kid. As for inspiration with our current musical styles, African Sukos, Gaucho music, Voodoo Chants, Frank Zappa, Middle Eastern Prayer Songs, Belly Dance music, Avant Guard Jazz, Jackhammers, Industrial Accidents, Train Wrecks, Mambo, Salsa, all show up at one time or another, along with many other diversions.
Julian Aguirre: One of my earliest influences has to be my mom's uncle who always played the classical guitar, he was a purist in the sense that he played the classics. Being born in South America gives us a natural ear for music due to the fact that it was always all around us. Both sides of my family has musicians, my father's sister is an accomplished concert pianist and my sister a piano teacher. My wife, all my brothers and nephews all are into music in one way or another. Growing up in the Seventies I naturally listened to a lot of the then popular music, Hendix, Stones, Beatles, Mountain. But around 1970 or so a friend of my turned me on to Freddie Hubbard's Red Clay album and life changed musically for me for ever. Now I'd found Jazz. Another of my biggest influences has got to be Frank Zappa, I listened and still do to him a lot. There is not too much music that I won't listen to anymore from punk to classical to nostalgic 30's and 40's stuff to blues to industrial-techno-jungle-funk.
Jeph Rebert: From Bach to rock, I listen to just about every form of music! My favorite artists include, but are not limited to, Gentle Giant, Los Lobos, Jethro Tull, Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, and John-Luc Ponty.
Paula: Your CD-- what would you like to say about it?
Jeff Coleman: It wonderfully captures a moment in time. The band had reached a point where some remarkable things were happening during our improvisations. There were a lot of hazy areas in some of the songs, and filling them in was like juggling snakes. I wanted us to record "live" to snag some of the better moments, and we did. After the mix, our producer Steve Dove said to me, "now you'll have to learn how to play it," by which he meant that he had focused our raw material, our raw playing, and turned it into something listenable. Since that mix, we have been learning to play it.
Lynn Stover: It was and is great fun.
Dave Moyar: The CD was recorded live in one session over a 12 hour period. We recorded two or three takes of about 15 songs and settled on what we thought were the most representative of where we were at at the time. I do believe that it is a very honest representation of the band then and holds up very well now. In the two years since the recording of the CD some growth and changes have occured, but all in all it is a great audio portrate of where the band is heading.
Julian Aguirre: Colonial Pagoda was a real band thing, down to the art work. I really felt like a big family project I even got the wife and kid to participate. Thanks to Jeff Coleman we had a very rare opportunity to work with world class sound guys whom to this day we owe a lot to.
Jeph Rebert: Honestly, it's the most unique thing to hit the Susquehanna Valley in years.
If you would like to order a copy of Namaste's album Colonial Pagoda, send a check or money order for$15.00 US (including shipping) made payable to Iko's Music Trade to:
Send check or money order to: Iko's Music Trade
2300 East Market Street
York, PA, USA 17402
Be sure to indicate that you want to purchase Colonial Pagoda, and include a valid return address in your correspondence. Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.
Photo courtesy of Namaste.