OA: Samantha Stiles Columnn November 21, 2008

I’m absolutely baffled by the iPhone application that recognizes ambient music and tells the listener what it is and where to buy it.

That is an amazing tool for practicing music elitists or for wasting time.

Yes, it has opened entirely new avenues to hearing current music, but it’s also opened hidden passages to older music.

It has brought about a crop of musicians learning their craft from old recordings, think older than Hendrix riffs. These are recordings that previously couldn’t be passed around digitally.

That’s when you get bands such as The Wiyos, an acoustic old-timey ’20s and ’30s swing band with elements of ragtime guitar from Brooklyn.

Their tour doesn’t stop in Grand Junction but if your interest is piqued at all, you can see them on Friday, Nov. 21, in Paonia at the Paradise Theatre, 215 Grand Ave., with Jalan Crossland. They head to Denver on Saturday, Nov. 22, for a show with the Boulder Acoustic Society, which recently had a show at the KAFM Radio Room.

I interviewed The Wiyos’ Parrish Ellis, who I’d bet can play just about anything with strings on it. I asked him probably more questions than he liked about an old timey revival.

“How about a revolution as opposed to a revival,” he said.

He said that above statement with a little more enthusiasm than I can convey in print without writing “he said enthusiastically.”

He compared this revolution to punk rock, a counter-culture movement.

“It’s building for sure,” he said. “I think people view it as more real and driven.”

Ellis and his bandmates learned their instruments with the intention of playing the music of Fats Waller, The Skillet Lickers and Spike Jones.

Instead of The Wiyos’ original songs being lyrics based, they begin writing around old recordings and particular instruments, such as the washboard, kazoo or archtop guitar.

The Wiyos tour two to three weeks of every month and are known along the East Coast, but they have a web of supporters across the country.

What other band that is not from Missouri or Kansas starts a tour in Missouri and Kansas? The Wiyos did.

They’re welcomed back to Missouri shows with open arms, Ellis said.

Along with The Wiyos’ press material came a few press and promoter quotes. Usually, I ignore these because who’s to say whether they’re real or just friends of the band.

One in particular struck me as rather poetic.

“(The Wiyos’) willingness to approach all manner of pre-war American music as merely different limbs on the same body has struck quite a chord,” wrote Jim Reed, “Connect Savannah.”

This revival per se, rounds out a discussion I had with another band recently. It’s RiverSeed’s opinion that all songs have been written before, so it’s about the new emotion that you put into it.

So who will it be next? Who’s music will people repeat?



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