COVID nixed his tour plans, so Jeremiah Col­lier and his band play for the pub­lic from par­ents’ S. Side porch

South Siders revel in Jeremiah Col­lier’s ‘up­lift­ing’ porch ses­sion mu­sic jams

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY EVAN F. MOORE, STAFF RE­PORTER emoore@sun­times.com | @evanF­moore

Jeremiah Col­lier and the REUP’s name is get­ting out there via so­cial me­dia as well as good, old-fash­ioned word of mouth.

Since mid-June, Col­lier and his band have been play­ing ev­ery Thurs­day from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. in front of his par­ents’ Park Manor bun­ga­low in the 7300 block of South In­di­ana Av­enue in an event pro­vid­ing free en­ter­tain­ment to his neigh­bors, and any­one else who shows up, dubbed “Porch Ses­sions with JC and the REUP.”

Col­lier, 20, plays drums and is joined by a ro­tat­ing set of mu­si­cians. For a re­cent set, he en­lists his cousin, bass player Micah Col­lier

(fill­ing in for reg­u­lar col­lab­o­ra­tor Jeremy Jones), 19; key­boardist Chris Al­li­son, 22, and Isa­iah Col­lier, 22, Jeremiah’s brother. who plays the sax­o­phone in his own band, Isa­iah Col­lier & the Cho­sen Few.

Other artists in­clud­ing po­ets, singers and other mu­si­cians are in­vited to join in the ses­sions.

And as the band plays a metic­u­lously cu­rated set fea­tur­ing orig­i­nal mu­sic and jams from Snoop Dogg, Erykah Badu and Slum Vil­lage, among oth­ers, the crowd around them starts to rise in num­bers as the young, the not-so-young and the “sea­soned” mem­bers of the com­mu­nity turn the weekly event into a “kick­back” — an im­promptu, small gath­er­ing.

“We play mostly jazz stan­dards,” said Jeremiah Col­lier. “We just take those and re­bas­ing them with our own lit­tle spin be­cause not ev­ery­body wants to hear the same stuff all the time.”

The gath­er­ings have grown week by week, the band says.

“We’ve reached many dif­fer­ent neigh­bor­hoods, many dif­fer­ent ar­eas of Chicago and the whole world

at this point,” Micah Col­lier said. “So, I think that’s def­i­nitely the goal, and that goal is def­i­nitely com­ing to fruition.”

Some folks pull up with lawn chairs, their cool­ers and their fa­vorite adult bev­er­ages, while oth­ers stay in their cars nod­ding their heads to the mu­sic. Oth­ers folks were pulled in when their in­ter­est piqued while they were driv­ing by (all while practicing so­cial dis­tanc­ing guide­lines, of course); one man did just that when he posted a Face­book video of the band that went vi­ral, gar­ner­ing over a mil­lion views to date.

The video has a tagline say­ing, in part: “There’s more Beauty in Chicago than there is Ugly ... be­lieve me there is.”

“He [Jeremiah Col­lier] just em­braced me, man; he had a warm spirit about him . ... And that struck me even more so than his ac­tual play­ing of the drums,” said Joseph Saun­ders, the South Side man who recorded the vi­ral video. “But man, you saw what you saw [vi­ral video]; the boys are bad.”

The band — and its pro­duc­tion — is truly a fam­ily af­fair. His fa­ther, Irv­ing Col­lier, plays mul­ti­ple in­stru­ments, while his mother, Cyn­thia Col­lier — the band’s man­ager — is a singer.

Jeremiah Col­lier, who at­tends Olive-Har­vey Col­lege, has been play­ing the drums since he was 2 years old. If the COVID-19 pan­demic hadn’t de­stroyed his plans, he says he would’ve been on tour right now. But as one op­por­tu­nity fal­tered, another one pre­sented it­self.

The band re­cently se­cured a Fri­day night res­i­dency at The Wood­lawn, a Chatham eatery and event space that has one of the few rooftop pa­tios on the South Side, while gain­ing fans by the sec­ond.

Ed­u­ca­tor and South Side res­i­dent Kemba Kelly is one of the peo­ple who heard about the band and its unique setup from so­cial me­dia and a co-worker.

“This is a re­lax­ing way to take our minds off of things be­fore we go back [to work],” said Kelly. “This is my first time out here, and it def­i­nitely won’t be my last. This is a pos­i­tive, up­lift­ing way to be out­side of the house un­der COVID re­stric­tions; this is a pos­i­tive and safe place.”

Jeremiah Col­lier aims to host the porch ses­sions un­til the fall when tem­per­a­tures drop.

And, hope­fully, re­lease an al­bum.

“Most of these guys I’ve been know­ing ever since we were kids,” said Col­lier. “I trust them to give me the mu­si­cal vibes that I cur­rently want … be­cause we all work to­gether; we all want to help each other suc­ceed.”

That fa­mil­iar­ity and co­he­sion keeps things light within the ro­tat­ing band, as their “Good Vibes Only” motto sug­gests.

While Col­lier is be­ing in­ter­viewed by a Sun-Times videog­ra­pher, one of the band mem­bers yells in his di­rec­tion with a wry smile, say­ing, “You still ugly.”

Col­lier shakes his head and laughs.

Jeremiah Col­lier and the REUP de­liver jazz stan­dards dur­ing a re­cent porch ses­sion. BRIAN RICH/SUN-TIMES

BRIAN RICH/SUN-TIMES

Manor Park neigh­bors pull up a lawn chair for a re­cent Thurs­day night jam ses­sion by Jeremiah Col­lier and the REUP.

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