Jahman Brahman brings flaws and all to Dayton
By Rusty Pate
Photo: Jahman Brahman will play Jimmie’s Ladder 11 on April 17
Live music is a powerful medium.
Virtually every other form of art separates the audience from the artist. Film and stage productions have the “fourth wall.” Painters and sculptors usually work behind closed doors until the finished product is ready. Novels allow the reader inside character’s heads, but always at a voyeuristic arm’s length.
An audience at a concert has the ability to affect the art. They may dance, they may scream or they may just completely ignore the proceedings; and by doing any of these, the audience can change the music. This is especially true with an improv-heavy act such as Jahman Brahman.
The band came together in Columbus, Ohio and consists of Justin Brown on guitar and vocals, Casey Chanatry on lead guitar, Nate Brown on bass, Josh Loffer on keyboard and Rowdy Keelor on drums.
Three-and-a-half years ago, the band moved to Asheville, N. C. It was not a move predicated by business choices or chasing any scene.
“It’s really on a personal level, because people here are far more open-minded to different ideas we hadn’t really exposed ourselves to yet,” Keelor said. “It also has a whole different level of nature and safety. It’s way cleaner. There’s just something about the Blue Ridge Mountains and the inspiration they give.”
Keelor spoke just after finishing up what he called a “quite productive” rehearsal. The band will spend the spring and summer touring the Midwest and South, headlining shows and hitting a string of festival dates.
It’s really the only life they know.
Before moving to North Carolina, the band cut its teeth during a 16-month Monday night residence at Oldfield’s On High in Columbus. The group built their following organically by drawing on a disparate collection of influences.
Justin and Nate Brown come from what Keelor called “kind of a punk rock” background. Chanatry loved hip hop. Loffer brought the soul/Motown vibe and Keelor was steeped in classic rock.
They try to never close their minds off to any type of music.
“We don’t believe people like to listen to one genre of music anymore,” Keelor said. “I don’t really know anybody that’s like ‘I only listen to classic rock’ or ‘I only listen to country.’ Genres are kind of going away and we’re cool with that. We don’t want to be labeled so we play and listen to all sorts of genres.”
The inevitable and perhaps over-asked question for a live act such as Jahman Brahman remains: how do they transfer the energy of their live show into the studio?
The task seems virtually impossible. After all, the studio is a much different beast than the stage. The former offers an opportunity to play mad scientist and experimentally explore technology. Recording studio albums serves as a mile marker, forever capturing how a particular band sounds at a specific time. It allows for precise and pristine snapshots of songs.
Shows are much more frenetic. Keelor said the quest is to merge the band’s chemistry with the ebb and flow of a crowd’s interaction. Those facts lead to a fairly logical next step: release a live album.
And that’s exactly what the band plans to do with Live and Well: Flaws and All.
Recorded at Woodlands Tavern in Columbus on Dec. 28, 2013, the disc serves as a culmination of everything the band has been building toward.
“We played really well that night and there was a special energy in the room,” Keelor said. “We’re so proud, not in a way that’s egotistical, just in a way that we’ve been working really hard and this new live album is going to be a great representation of what we’re doing currently.”
Manning the recording module was Andy Sartain, who previously worked on the band’s two studio albums and whom Keelor calls “a wizard.”
Ultimately, Jahman Brahman belongs on the stage in front of a crowd, and works best when taking chances. It reflects not only the hard work and years of dedication they’ve spent in that creative space, but it speaks to a higher philosophical approach to which they currently adhere.
“Music to us isn’t supposed to be perfect – music is supposed to be a reflection of life – and life isn’t perfect.” Keelor said. “I know some of this can sound cliché sometimes, especially in the jam scene, but it’s really important and it’s not to be taken lightly. Changing the world, people feel like, is a huge grand task. There are a lot of little worlds you can change. As cliché or grandiose as it might sound, we want to change the world in whatever scope we can for the better.”
Jahman Brahman will play Jimmie’s Ladder 11, 936 Brown St. on Thursday, April 17. Also on the bill is Indigo Sun. The show is 18 and up; doors at 9 p.m. For more information, please visit jahmanbrahman.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.