Marching to the beat of their own drum
When Dorothy and her friends from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ travelled down the yellow brick road they were looking to find a magical place called the Emerald City.
For six veteran musicians that magical place is likely on the stage.
Local musicians Mitchelle (Live Wires) Trott, Juice Roberts, Kevin (Aswad) Wilson, James (Jazzpriest) Richardson, Larry (Cocky) Steede, Sidney (Yendis) Simmons and Leroy Francis have joined to create conscious reggae group The Yellow Brick Road.
They started the band after growing tired of watching the local art and entertainment industry steadily decline. They decided to do something about it, and recently started a tour to bring their unique brand of music to all corners of the Island.
The band’s name comes from a passage in the bible that states the streets to heaven will be paved with gold.
Mr Roberts said it felt like they “were just going around in circles and dead end streets” with their music careers. In order to break that cycle they decided to start a different journey together.
“It made more sense to walk on that higher level,” he said.
‘The Yellow Brick Road’ also resonated with them because once the characters in the film like the Lion and Scarecrow reach the end of the road, they find that everything they were looking for is inside themselves.
Each of the band mates are described as “individual talents” but they found there was strength in numbers.
They are using the framework of reggae music, but infusing other genres like jazz, R & B, rock and funk. While they have their own songs, the group also enjoy performing covers of some of the top classics and taking an original approach to make it their own.
Over the past few weeks they have been performing at various venues around the Island. They will be performing at the Young Men’s Social Club this Friday; Bermuda College on June 14, and Devonshire Recreation Club on June 21.
So far the reaction from residents, and tourists, has been overwhelming, and people leave having experienced something totally different, Mr Mitchell said.
“At a recent gig we got everyone up, and pushed the chairs away, because we didn’t want any chairs or tables [to hinder people from moving]. People need to dance, this is an Island,” Mr Mitchell said.
“Where is the closest place? 748 miles away? That’s far, so when you come here you need to be able to jam, and this is what we guys are doing.
“We are bringing the party, the unity, and everything, and through music we can change the world. It reflects what is happening, and it can predict, or give you a forecast, on what is to come,” he explained.
Some people have showed up for every show so far, and show no signs of fatigue, according to Mr Richardson.
For Mr Roberts, what he likes most about the band is that no two sessions are ever alike. “Every time we play we bring in a different feel, and vibration,” he said. “Even though we are playing the same music, we adjust.
“We are not like robots just sticking to this programme that is rehearsed. If a tune is three minutes, we will play it for ten minutes, just rocking like that.”
The band said their ultimate aim is to take their music to the world. They hope to start by setting up a strong fan base in Bermuda, and using that to launch their music in the UK and other parts of the globe.
They are also looking to inspire other musicians on the Island, and want to showcase local talent in the opening act segment to their performance.
Mr Richardson, a well known jazz musician, said it was important for them to take a proactive approach to their entertainment careers.
He got to a point where fans were constantly asking him where he would next perform, and felt it was silly to just wait around for hotels, or entrepreneurs, to provide them with gigs.
Instead they took the challenge on themselves. “It’s up to us as artists, and musicians, to take responsibility for our industry, and start working, and create our own events, and our own way, and move forward, but this takes all of us,” Mr Richardson said.
“So while we are doing what we are doing, it’s also up to the community to demonstrate their support of local arts by coming out to see us.
“And its up to businesses to participate as well through sponsorships, whether in kind sponsorships, or financial sponsorships, so it really does take work from all of us.”
The band members thanked their technical group and sponsors Bermuda Pest Control for supporting them. People can get in touch with the band by contacting manager Keithlyn Fleming on e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or 500-0478.