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Sangoma emerges from the ashes

By Staff | Dec 26, 2012

In any given music scene in any given location, there are artists and bands that stand out and even moreso that do not. Sangoma is an emerging rock-n-roll outfit that has risen from the ashes of a once up-and-coming, but now defunct local favorite, Tower of the Elephant.

With the addition of a few members from a several other area acts with respectable fan-bases, Sangoma is quickly forging a viable sound and an ever-growing following. They wasted little, if any, time coming together, and have been together for right around a year.

A few weeks ago I had an afternoon chat with one of Sangoma’s guitarists, Garrett Babb, vocalist Blair Yoke and bassist Josh Harshbarger. By all accounts everything is looking up for this young band of locally seasoned musicians. Everyone involved is completely committed to bringing their proverbial “A” game to the table in order to continue churning out what appears to be a touch of fresh of rock-n-roll flavor to the area that the local scene could definitely use right about now.

There are always a few acts that are tossed around here and there by different venues and promoters as everyone involved make attempts to revive a stale, dying scene or even create a new one. Sangoma is a band that feels they can weather the storm of miss-matched event line-ups and festivals because of their ability to appeal to a broad spectrum of music fans.

“We didn’t say that we want to sound like this or that,” explains Harshbarger,

Adds Babb, “Someone might have a riff and it’ll just kind of build from there.

“Everyone is involved in the writing process, but no one tells the other what to do in any certain part.”

The band appears to be quite comfortable in their writing methods, and with good reason. There are members from several groups who have since disbanded that were locally popular and pretty good at what they did in their time, including bands like Killbot, The Dig-Its, The Black Knots and The Wizards of Ghetto Mountain, to name drop a few. The variance of styles attached to the aforementioned groups could undoubtedly work in a positive favor for Sangoma and will likely remain an asset in terms of influences as they charge into a local musical atmosphere that might be initially unpredictable, but inevitably become saturated by more and more mediocre pretenders that are inclined to ultimately cause scene supporters to stop going out to see what is expected to be an entertaining and exciting live show.

In mid-September of 2011 Sangoma attempted to make a short run of a tour and take their formidable style of rock-n-roll to the people abroad, but the band was stopped dead in its tracks almost as quickly as the attempt began.

Harshbarger whimsically laments, “We got to Maryland and our van broke down there. We played the scheduled show, but had to cancel the rest when it turned hopeless. We just rented a van and came back home.”

Was it bad luck or unseen fate that held them back? Likely the answer will never be known. But at least when they do make the next attempt, maybe luck will be on their side, as it is beginning to appear that Sangoma is not going to be held back if they can help it.

Their new self-titled CD is a force to be reckoned with. Their studio sound is crystal clear but as solid as a brick wall. The band gives the lion’s share of credit for the grand sound to Bud Carroll and Trackside Studios, which seems to be turning into an essential go-to spot for bands to record their material.

When asked about the exemplary quality of the CD’s sound, Harshbarger said, “We just played everything live and Bud just did what he does.”

A lot of bands prefer to do instrument layering, but according to Yoke, “It was better this way, and a lot more authentic. The only thing not recorded were my vocals, which I did in about two hours the next day.”

As a result, Sangoma have a near flawless representation of the culmination of talent and influences that have emerged as result of their union.

The future of Sangoma appears to be wide open and has the potential to hold great things. When speaking in terms of the local environment, what they have managed to manifest is a fresh take and a welcome departure from the host of sub-par attempts by over enthusiastic “scenesters” who try to claim a place beside those who are the real deal – Sangoma is the real deal.

The new CD is available now through the band that can be obtained by contacting them via Facebook. You can also check them out on Band Camp. In addition to music, there is also other merchandise available such as t-shirts and ashtrays. Yes ashtrays!