|Picture Courtesy of Yamica Peterson|
New England based band Mica’s Groove Train packed the Strange Brew Tavern on Saturday night. The crowd was filled with smiling faces, hoppy effervescence, and good mojo. The band put on a rousing performance, combining slick pulsed beats with soulful laments. Lead singer Yamica Peterson sang straight from her heart, revealing her vocal power as an undeniable assimilation of her natural gift. She underscores talent.
Behind the voice was her subtly understated band. They were all masterful, yet not overpowering the vocals. It was evident that the band members share a good rapport, as the music was intelligent and intuitive. I asked a friend who was at the show to describe the band’s sound, and she stated, “It’s as if their music gives you your own personal space to experience the message as the songs envelop you.” I could not have said it better myself, and pondered if that is the definition of groove. Sprouting buds of groove, soul, funk, jazz, and afro-pop, it is nearly impossible to box their sound into one genre.
Before the show I introduced myself to Yamica Peterson. We discussed her music for a bit, and I was struck by her friendliness and easy-going manner. She even took the time to introduce me to the great Mighty Sam McClain who was in the audience, and, who happened to be sitting near me and my friends. I admit that I had eyed him as soon we entered the venue, but was too shy (or possibly star-struck) to talk to him. I was truly honored. The Strange Brew Tavern was in mighty good company. It turns out that bass player Chad Owen tours with Mighty Sam McClain on occasion, and that guest guitarist Patrick Herlehy has worked closely with him on other projects. I have a knack for unintentionally meeting famous musicians at shows, and this made me reminisce about the time I met Peter Wolf who was sitting next to me at a Van Morrison concert at the Opera House in Boston a few years back. The rule of thumb is simple: if a concert is drawing in other musicians of high caliber, then you are in for a special performance.
The band played a solid three sets. Most of the songs were original numbers, with a few scattered covers throughout the night. Highlights from the show included the songs:
Mocha Chocolate - a powerful vocal display with expressive lyrics that captivated the audience.
Transitions – Chad Owen really shined in this, playing a complex funky bass line. Yamica further articulated the song by hitting some smooth jazz tones.
If You Only Knew – a raspy and soulful song, admittedly one of my favorites.
Baby Love – Patrick Herlehy was edgy and exploratory on the saxophone, delivering a powerful solo that brought cheers from the crowd.
Hit ‘Em Up Style – this Blu Cantrell cover was awesome and done in their own groove style – Patrick Herlehy soared on the guitar, and Chris Thurston rocked steady on the drums. This was a real crowd pleaser.
Groove Train – was the last song of the night and pretty much summed up the band’s vibe. This song displayed that unique drum and bass relationship that Chad Owen and Chris Thurston share.
Mica’s Groove Train delivered a great live show. Their songs tell a story that everyone can relate to. It is important to point out that they are real stewards of music, and outside of their performance life, teach music to aspiring musicians. It is so uplifting and inspiring to see one of our own local bands become so successful. They have an original earth-groove sound that resonates well. I was left with positive impressions, mainly, that they are kind folk, accomplished musicians, and represent all that is right in the business. They are making the world a better place, one song at a time.
|Picture Courtesy of Yamica Peterson|
Exclusive Interview with Yamica Peterson!
Kelly: How did your band come to be?
Yamica: We've all been friends for years, playing in different bands around the seacoast. Chad Owen (Bass) and I play together in another band (Rhythm Method), and have a similar taste for music, so it seemed natural to venture off and form Groove Train. We then got Jim Dozet (Guitar) and Chris Thurston (Drums) on board to complete the group, and the rest as they say, is history.
Kelly: Do you rehearse often?
Yamica: We get together once a week for writing, rehearsing, jamming. It keeps things fresh and it's always exciting because everyone always has something cool to bring to the table. When we put it all together it comes off magically.
Kelly: What is your favorite song to perform?
Yamica: That's difficult to answer because I put my heart into everything I do... If I had to pick just one, I'd have to say "If You Only Knew." It was inspired by the love of my life, and I feel a high like no other when I get to share it with people.
Kelly: You have one of the most natural voices I’ve heard in a long time, when did you start singing?
Yamica: Thank you so much! It's just something I love to do. I think I gave my very first performance at age 3 in church, but I've been at it professionally since 2004. All my life in some form or another, has led me to doing music.
Kelly: Do you come from a musical family?
Yamica: I come from a very long line of musicians. My grandmother, rest her soul, was called 'Lady of Song'. My mother has a voice like melted chocolate, my sister’s voices sound nothing short of angelic, and I work currently along side my father, as a duo called 'Family Affair'. It seems that my children have inherited the musical gene as well. Now I'm just bragging!
Kelly: Any upcoming shows/events that you are particularly excited about?
Yamica: I get excited about every gig! Our debut at Strange Brew Tavern is a big night for me--I relish the opportunity to bring our sound to that room. Manchester's a fun city no matter where you go. We'll be at Piccola's on Elm St., in the upstairs lounge on March 3rd, and at one of our very favorite rooms, Spring Hill Tavern in Portsmouth, NH on March 30th.
Kelly: How do you describe your music to people?
Yamica: I call it: 'Groove R&B with smooth-jazz & funk edges'. It's a blend of our collective styles.
Kelly: If you had the opportunity to perform with anyone, alive or dead, who would that be?
Oh boy... That's like asking me to pick a favorite kid! I'd probably be struck dumb if I had the chance to play with Jill Scott, India Arie and/or Stevie Wonder.
Kelly: Who are you listening to these days?
Yamica: Lately I've been groovin' to Hil St. Soul, & Damien Marley, but I listen to absolutely everything, all the time. From Rhianna to Reo Speedwagon, and everything in between.
Kelly: You have some amazing original songs (One of Them Dayz, If You Only Knew, etc), is song writing easy for you? What comes first to you when writing songs, word or music?
Yamica: I'd have to say yeah, it's pretty easy, second nature maybe... Usually, I'll hear a pretty chord or striking melody in my head, associate an emotion with it, and then the words come. If I've witnessed some sort of drama, tragedy or otherwise and have an opinion about it, a song results.
Kelly: Who inspires you?
Yamica: Definitely my family. We're an intensely mixed bag of nuts, so I have lots to draw from. Most of my lyrics reveal that about me.
Kelly: What is the most embarrassing song in your ipod?
Yamica: Eat It-Weird Al Yankovic
Kelly: What is one of your favorite quotes?
Yamica: "A woman without a man, is like a fish without a bicycle" Gloria Steinem
Kelly: What was one of the best concerts you’ve ever been to?
Yamica: Believe it or not, I've only been to one! I saw Citizen Cope not too long ago and it was a ton of fun. I have 5 children, not to mention I'm always playing a show somewhere, so I don't get go out too often. Never made it inside, but I did tailgate at a Jethro Tull concert once, if that counts.
Kelly: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview! I really enjoy your music and look forward to seeing your band again in the future! I love Citizen Cope myself, and tailgating a Jethro Tull concert definitely counts in my book!
Yamica Peterson, Vocals
Patrick Herlehy, Guest Guitar & Saxophone
Chad Owen, Bass
Chris Thurston, Drums
Check out their website here
Ratings (1-5 Stars - 1 being the lowest & 5 being the highest for a total score of 25 points):
Performance: Excellent Live Show! *****
Sound Quality: Excellent *****
Ticket Price: FREE! *****
Venue: Intimate *****
Travel/Parking:Easy to Find & Plenty of City Parking! *****
Total Score: 25 Points!!!