Sonoma County’s newest folk band, Odd Job Ensemble, played at the Forestville Club on Friday night. The bar was filled to capacity with expectant listeners ready to dance.
The seven-piece Sonoma County-based ensemble is new to the music scene, and came together in September of 2015. The band consists of founder Kalei Yamanoha, who plays accordion and banjo, Kassi Hampton on violin, Tristan Lane Collinsworth on bassoon, Jonathan Arent on trumpet, Jiordi Rosales on cello, Ben Weiner on drums and Josh Jackson on upright bass.
Unfortunately, Rosales, Weiner and Jackson were unable to be at the show. In their place was Rick Lomelli on drums and Tony Schenna on upright bass. Both are Sonoma State University alumni, Lomelli graduating in 2014 and Schenna in 2007. Arent also attended Sonoma State for a semester, studying jazz between 2010 and 2011.
Collinsworth currently attends Sonoma State as a history major in her junior year. She is the daughter of Professor R. Anderson Collinsworth, the Director of Bands and Director for Music Education at Sonoma State. With her father’s influence, she’s been playing bassoon since she was 7-years-old.
“My dad, being a faculty member and a lifelong music educator, has definitely played a big part in my music career,” said Collinsworth. “I wouldn’t be playing music without him.”
When asked how they would describe their genre and sound, they had a difficult time condensing it into a word. They came to the conclusion that they perform “folk music from around the world.”
They derived their inspiration from bands like The Tin Hat Trio and artists like Tom Waits.
“[We play] stuff like New Orleans brass band music, ragtime, old time, bluegrass, traditional klezmer music from Eastern Europe,” said Yamanoha. “The band as a whole has crazy musical tastes. I think we all have completely different inspirations. We could probably collectively go on for 20 pages on what inspires us musically.”
Yamanoha has been a musician for 13 years. He plays the accordion, trombone, five-string and tenor banjo, piano, pump organ (he recently rebuilt a pump organ to make it portable and able to fit it in the back of his truck), sousaphone, upright bass and guitar.
“Kalei shreds to back tracks of Van Halen when no one’s looking,” said Collinsworth.
Collinsworth and Yamanoha have been playing music together for three years. They started out in a 16-piece band named Church Marching Band. Yamanoha took the best of the Church Marching Band, along with a few other musical connectionsand formed Odd Job Ensemble.
Collinsworth was more than willing to join because “It was always my dream to be mic’d. I was a bassoon player in a cloud of brass instruments,” she laughs, “no one ever heard me.”
Yamanoha wanted to start the band to write and play his own music with friends who were excited to play it too.
“We have fun playing music that no one around here really plays, that I really love,” said Yamanoha. “I like to think it’s beautiful.”
“I really enjoy the circus-magic aspect of it,” said Hampton.
“There’s elements of classical to it that are really interesting because there’s a lot of Americana and bluegrass in this scene and we do some of that,” aid Collinsworth. “But I think it fills a hole for a lot of traditional stuff that’s lacking from the scene.”
“And because we’re a seven-piece, I can play any song solo, we can play them as a trio, as a five-piece, as a seven-piece, it’s totally modular,” said Yamanoha. “If it’s a café gig, we can do our little string quartet, if we’re playing a bar, we can bring in the horns, the bass, the drums.”
When asked what accomplishments they’ve made so far, Yamanoha responded with “I’m proud of my band for being willing to play my music.”
There was a feeling of mutual affection from the band members present. These people really are just friends who care for each other deeply.
“We’re proud of Kalei for writing it,” said Collinsworth.
Some accomplishments they hope to make are tours around Eastern Europe and using the project to accompany performance art.
“As our trio, we do a show with what’s called The Traveling Spectacular. It’s a full-fledged circus show, on a traveling stage and everything. We’re trying to convince the circus leader to let us bring the whole band on,” said Yamanoha. “We might be playing some festivals with them this summer.”
After their interview, the band went on stage. A crowd had gathered on the dance floor for a closer look. Odd Job Ensemble was everything they described themselves to be; folk music from around the world. One moment there’s a feeling of a circus under a red and white striped tent, watching clowns and tight-rope walkers, the next is a feeling of sipping on a Sazerac in New Orleans. The different styles and tastes of each musician come through beautifully.
Odd Job Ensemble has a show on Feb. 25 at The Orchard House in Santa Rosa. They will be playing with three other bands; Strangely, as well as Rags and The Dollhouses.
They will also be embarking on a Pacific Northwest tour at the beginning of June. They will be performing at Rivertown Revival in Petaluma on July 16.