Arcata Eye Scene

A-town art, music, theatre. Mostly music. Updated Wednesdays.

WoMama – CD release party extravaganza – amazing instruments! dancing! many players!

WoMama‘s debut CD, Foté Faré, was three years in the making and is a “good representation” of the band, according to Jesse Jonathan (vocals, balafon, melodica, pans, dun duns, repinique, kit).

“It’s a collection of the first eight, nine songs we wrote together,” he said. “We’re excited to have a digital calling card of what people can expect to see in a live show.”

And what people can expect is a stunning combination of musical cultures from around the globe. Thanks to the influence of HSU music prof Eugene Novotny, Jonathan “fell in love” with perscussive sound and followed that love to study its origins – a common theme among WoMama members.

Melody Walker (vocals, shekere, pans, clave, tamborim) described WoMama as a fusion of “song, drum and dance – a holy trinity in every culture.” Only in our culture, she said, “does it seem to be separate.” Walker pointed to “shows where nobody’s dancing” and music meant solely for listening – such as classical – as indicators of how that trinity fails to manifest in the American-European world. “It isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” she qualified, but it’s not WoMama’s thing.

“At our roots, we’ve always had the three together.”

With so many members, how does the creative process work? “We try to keep it a democracy,” Johnson said. “If [a song] is someone’s idea, they pretty much have the say.” Levels of commitment vary based on outside commitments, he added, but everyone’s actively involved. The goal is to make the summer festival touring circuit. Johnson would like WoMama to do some work on a university level, too, exploring and instructing about the ethnomusicological roots of what they do.

Several members have traveled to other countries to study, Walker said. She’s been to Brazil, Joe Bishop (djembe, steel pans, balafon, dun duns) studied in Guinea, Ken Lawrence (bass, vocals) performed in Africa.

Adding to the CD release show Friday night in Redwood Raks (in the Old Creamery Building) are dance troupes SambAmore, AkaBella, YaHabibe and the New World Ballet Company. “We wanted to provide something realy special,” Johnson said.

Tickets are available through the Works and North Coast Horticulture in McKinleyville. Cover is $10 advance and $15 at the door, CD included.

WoMama is: Joe Bishop (djembe, steel pans, balafon, dun duns); Jesse Jonathan (vocals, balafon, melodica, pans, dun duns, repinique, kit); Brian Osper (electric guitar, vocals, balafon, pans, dun duns); Ken Lawrence (bass, vocals); Greg (drum kit, dun duns); Robbie Douglas (congas, djembe, shekere, dun duns, clave, blocks and bells); Melody Walker (vocals, shekere, pans, clave, tamborim); Lauren Smith (vocals, pans, dun duns, cabasa, tamborim).



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