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Mother Earth lives in the music of New Monsoon
by Cortney Maddock
Feb 14, 2008 | 1301 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy/New Monsoon - Bay Area-based New Monsoon will play Saturday night at Great Basin Brewing Co. in Sparks.
Courtesy/New Monsoon - Bay Area-based New Monsoon will play Saturday night at Great Basin Brewing Co. in Sparks.
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Imagine The Grateful Dead jamming with a relaxed Bob Marley and they might sound a little like the Bay Area-based band New Monsoon. With hints of bluegrass, folk, reggae and funk, New Monsoon plans on impressing Great Basin Brewery audiences on Saturday.

The band, which now calls San Francisco home, missed the free-flowing ‘60s rock era and is bringing the sound back. New Monsoon’s founding members are Penn State pals keyboardist Phil Ferlino, guitarist and banjo player Bo Carper and leader singer and guitarist Jeff Miller, who started playing together after a few chance meetings.

After college the musicians drifted all over the country. Miller found himself drawn to the jazz scene in Boston but willingly moved to California to make music with Ferlino and Carper.

“I fell in love with the geography,” Miller said. “The beauty of the ocean and the mountains.”

Formed when Miller moved in 2001, New Monsoon’s latest album, 2007’s “New Monsoon V,” sounds very organic, diverse and smooth, as if the band was giving Mother Nature a soundtrack for her daily work.

“The music is the guiding light for how we play,” Miller explained. “Our band sounds really focused and settled. Everyone has eclectic tastes and we try to honor that in our music.”

Each band member, including bassist Marshall Harrell and drummer Sean Hutchinson, grew up enjoying different types of music and their varying backgrounds bring a different sound to the group.

“Once in a while we’ll see what it sounds like on the banjo,” Miller said. “We might add the mandolin for texture. The music determines the instrument we will play. They’re all just different colors in our wheel.”

New Monsoon’s funky soulful sound that makes even a deeply emotional song like “Alaska,” which deals with death and child rearing, sound sweet and charming. The band has taken its sound to such well-known musical gatherings as the Bonnarro Festival, Austin City Limits and the High Sierra Music Festival.

“(Playing festivals) makes us feel great,” Miller said. “We’re always happy to be invited out.”

Miller said he hopes that the band’s first time in Sparks will draw people out to see them play.

“We put on a really good variety of music,” Miller said. “We seem to draw people who are really into music.”
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