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
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
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
which is missing in a lot of commercial music, but present in much
We call it fun, but it includes a lot of things- joy, respect for the
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
and growing. And this goal we will retain no matter what our external
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
I don't have much interest in anything really rational or highly
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
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
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
Send check or money order to:
Iko's Music Trade
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:
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.