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Planet Funk Jeremiah Hosea/Earthdriver: A Review

Kazembe Balagun Aug 10

planet funkEarthdriver will perform with Shariff Simmons Aug. 19 at Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette St, NYC. Check out Jeremiah Hosea at www.myspace.com/earthdriver

Sometime during Shariff Simmons’ set last summer, the patrons of the Bowery Ballroom lost all their home training. Sweating and funky, they rose like a tide to the Simmons’ righteous lyricism, the dubbing of DJ Oja and the crisp riffs of guitarist Ryan Waters.

While the audience caught the spirit, bassist Jeremiah Hosea was a sea of utter calm, laying down a blues bottom that gave shape and definition to the chaos.

Hosea has one of those “I’ve seen you before” faces. No doubt. Now a veteran of the city’s underground music scene, he’s gigged with the likes of James Blood Ulmer, Karsh Kale, Peter Prince and Tamar Kali, to name a few. Not a slaphappy bassist, Hosea plays in the harmonic

mode that is multi-dimensional, allowing his fellow musicians to go in any direction, whether it’s hiphop, blues, or soul. But underneath the sound is an utter tenderness, a deep well of humanity that reshapes the listening experience.

Hosea’s career began at the early age of three – as the youngest patron of Carnegie Hall, where his mother exposed him to classical music. Influenced by the jazz-hip hop fusion of Stetasonic, Hosea stole away uptown to jam with Sacred Circus. Led by composersinger Olu, Sacred Circus was like a university in great Black music “Olu was the hidden genius of 120th street,” Hosea recalls. “We jammed around everything, gospel, soul, R&B, rap, you name it.”

It was around this time that Hosea jumped the plank, dropping out of Hunter College to devote himself to music full-time. Still working in the spirit of Sacred Circus, he was one of the architects of a new group, Earthdriver. Taking their name from a Native American myth, Earthdriver’s motto is “it’s not just a band, but a movement.”

Blurring performance art and sound, Earthhdriver is a floating collective of musicians, dancers and painters; similar, perhaps, to combining the French situationists with the Fat Albert Gang.

True to their DIY aesthetic, they self-released their first album, No One’s Slave, while performing at various benefits for Mumia Abu Jamal, the Zapatistas and war orphans of Sierra Leone.

Earthdriver members continue to work as a collective, while also performing with mainstream artists such as Sade, Mos Def and John Legend. Hosea’s projects currently include Shariff Simmons’ Echo Effect, a hard-rock spoken-word album; his own solo effort and the long-awaited second Earthdriver album.

Hosea sees the disc as a “cultural intervention” against the dangers presented by the commercialization of music. “The spirit we work in is that people, not money, make the world go around.”