Planet Funk Jeremiah Hosea/Earthdriver: A Review

Kazembe Balagun Aug 10, 2006

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

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.”