Performing outdoors at a Krewe of Highland parade party, the 11-piece band Ouro Boar could not quit when the rain began because the dancers were not caving. Nor were the musicians. They were “high as kites on their music,” says John Christopher Martin. “It was total confirmation that we’re on a good path,” said the keyboard player and tunesmith.
Inspired by music from West Africa (Fela Kuti, etc), Martin and guitarist Michael Stephens, longtime friends, see Ouro Boar as an Afrobeat project. “Afrobeat is protest music,” says Martin. And, says Stephens, “We are going to do our best to raise the cause of sanity against insane governmental policies and legislation.”
Afrobeat blends West African musical styles, such as highlife and yoruba, with American funk and jazz, with a focus on chanted vocals and percussion, says Wikipedia.
It’s a groove that seems pretty natural to the 11 ‘white boys’ of Ouro Boar. The band name, btw, is from the ouroboros, an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail.“It’s a polyrhythmic thing. You need a lot of players.”
Martin and Stephens started with a horn section. Jacob Mouser, Cory Knippers and Ben Ellard play sax, trombone, and trumpet – and write their own melodies. “Jordan West, bassist, Martin and I have been friends and musical podnuhs since high school,” says Stephens.
Also essential to such a band: a drummer like Patrick Wheeler, shekere player, Peter Fetterman, and conga player Stephen Scott. Guitar picking comes from Stephens and Chris DeRosia. Vocals and lyrics emanate from Andy Flook.
Stephens says they are not in it to sell merch or haggle over guarantees at concert venues. He wants to create value and sales by pressing vinyl records of Ouro Boar tunes. Though he admits that “vinyl is insanely expensive.”“We’re not looking to make money,” admits Stephens. “It’s therapy.”
“We’re not looking to make money,” admits Stephens. “It’s therapy.”