DON’T SWAT THESE NOSEEUMS

The Noseeums aren’t a jam band to eas­ily flick away

Tempo - - CONTENTS - By Ari­ana Kramer

ATaos band, The Noseeums has had a cou­ple of it­er­a­tions. In its cur­rent form, the band has been gain­ing at­ten­tion and mo­men­tum for its orig­i­nal im­pro­vi­sa­tional jams in­spired by blue­grass, rock and roll, jazz, funk, blues and Amer­i­cana. Eric Jay is the band­leader, play­ing elec­tric gui­tar and singing. The seven-piece band in­cludes Andy Yeo­mans (gui­tar, vo­cals), Rachael Penn (vi­o­lin, vo­cals), Peter Ovi­att (banjo, vo­cals), Tris­tan Craig (elec­tric bass), Howie Roe­mer (key­boards) and Har­lan Tafoya (drums).

While The Noseeums have been book­ing gigs on a con­sis­tent ba­sis, they are tak­ing a needed pause this week to gear up for their next shows at the Lilac Fes­ti­val in Kit Car­son Park on May 20 and Taos Mesa Brew­ing Moth­er­ship on May 23. The band is also booked for the Mu­sic on the Moth­er­ship Fes­ti­val (June 1-3).

Jay, who was in the first it­er­a­tion of The Noseeums as well as the sec­ond, said that he got his start as a mu­si­cian play­ing blue­grass jams at Eske’s Brew Pub in Taos.

“[Blue­grass] is a very straight­for­ward style, but it teaches you a lot about the tech­ni­cal­ity of mu­sic – how to strum a rhythm re­peat­edly, how to keep it con­sis­tent, how to play a melody, how to learn a melody.… It helped me a lot.”

Even­tu­ally, how­ever, Jay found he was grow­ing bored with strictly blue­grass mu­sic.

“I guess deep down in­side I felt that blue­grass wasn’t my call­ing… It was help­ing me be­come a bet­ter player and mu­si­cian over all, men­tally and tech­ni­cally, but I wanted to take it in another direc­tion.”

Jay said last sum­mer he started to write songs and hand­pick mu­si­cians for a band. He was in­spired by pro­gres­sive blue­grass bands, such as Rail­road Earth, who in­cor­po­rate jazz or blues into their mu­sic, as well as live im­pro­vi­sa­tion.

“That’s what I wanted to in­cor­po­rate into The Noseeums, and slowly that started to de­velop… We started to build chem­istry with one another, and sure enough, we started to cre­ate our own unique sound, which I think is one of the most im­por­tant things in hav­ing a band, mak­ing sure your band has a unique sound. That’s what I’ve been try­ing to cul­ti­vate, a unique sound for The Noseeums, that in­cor­po­rate these mul­ti­fac­eted gen­res.”

Yeo­mans came to Taos by way of Colorado. He started meet­ing Taos mu­si­cians at var­i­ous blue­grass fes­ti­vals and con­nected with the blue­grass com­mu­nity here. He also en­joys the newer blue­grass jam bands or new­grass bands. Even­tu­ally, he moved to Taos.

“He re­ally liked the mu­sic scene here, and he re­ally en­joyed play­ing with us,” Jay said. “He plays acous­tic gui­tar and picks up that nat­u­ral acous­tic gui­tar sound in the band, holds down the rhythm and plays those sweet blue­grass melodies from time to time.”

Penn has a back­ground in clas­si­cal vi­o­lin and has been im­mersed in old-time style fid­dle mu­sic for the past sev­eral years. “She is very tal­ented,” Jay said. “She’s ac­tu­ally a mu­sic teacher… This is to­tally dif­fer­ent for her, go­ing from be­ing a clas­si­cal player read­ing sheet mu­sic and play­ing note by note, to full out jam band im­pro­vi­sa­tional mu­sic.”

Ovi­att is from Lawrence, Kansas, and of­ten plays with lo­cal mu­si­cian Brent Berry. Jay said that Ovi­att’s way of play­ing banjo is unique, and fits well into The Noseeums. “He plays all these in­ter­est­ing banjo rolls, and he’s very in­tu­itive with his ear,” Jay said. “He can pick up a song faster than you can teach it. He has this way of in­cor­po­rat­ing this re­ally unique sound into ev­ery song he plays… You could be in a room­ful of ban­jos and Peter’s would stand out.”

Craig is from Min­nesota, has a back­ground in jazz and a love for Django Rein­hardt. “He in­cor­po­rates that jazzy sound into his bass play­ing,” Jay said. “Of­ten he’ll play so­los dur­ing a show that are re­ally in­tri­cate and in­ter­est­ing.”

Key­boardist Roe­mer is also a mem­ber of Last to Know and a few other bands around town. “He’s been a great ad­di­tion to the sound,” Jay said, who wanted to in­cor­po­rate a key­board because he felt it would add an im­por­tant com­po­nent to The Noseeums.

Tafoya is a mul­ti­in­stru­men­tal­ist and plays drums. “The drums are such a key, in­te­gral part of mak­ing one sound and tran­si­tion­ing it into another. Some­times a drum­mer alone can com­pletely change a song and help lead ev­ery­one into a cer­tain direc­tion, and that’s what he’s re­ally good at,” Jay com­mented.

“The most im­por­tant thing about all these peo­ple in the band is we’ve all re­ally grown to­gether as mu­si­cians,” Jay said.

“We have an ear for each other’s play­ing, and with the unique sound we’ve cre­ated in each of our shows, a large per­cent­age of our mu­sic is now im­pro­vised,” Jay said. “When we’re on­stage we’ve learned to lis­ten to each other bet­ter and re­ally in­cor­po­rate jam­ming into our play­ing. That was al­ways im­por­tant to me. With that style of mu­sic, it’s some­thing that’s re­ally im­mer­sive, al­ways chang­ing, and al­ways keep­ing you on your toes…. You can learn so much from it. There’s never a plateau.”

The Noseeums just started a Go­FundMe campaign to sup­port the record­ing of their first al­bum go­fundme.

com/thenoseeumsmu­sic­fund. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit the band on Face­book or Re­verb­na­tion.

COUR­TESY PHOTO

THE NOSEEUMS are an up and com­ing funky-pro­gres­sive-Amer­i­cana-”groove-grass” jam band.

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