New Orleans group takes musical ambitions to the next level
Steamboat Springs — On Frenchman Street in New Orleans, it’s as if anyone can call himself a musician. But to truly standout, it takes musical aplomb and ruthless ambition.
For musician Billy Franklin, he is accustomed to migrating from band to gig and everywhere in between. He’s in about 10 different bands, which is completely normal in New Orleans.
“The way that the culture there influences the music most is that it pushes you constantly,” said frontman for the mysteriously eclectic group Smoke N Bones. “Every time you turn around, there will be a new fantastic musician coming to town or someone who just graduated from the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.”
In 2012, after playing gigs together here and there, five members from a number of different musical backgrounds organically melded together to form Smoke N Bones. The group that ventures into the realms of jazz, Afro beat and reggae with strong roots in soul and funk will perform on Friday night at Schmiggity’s at 10 p.m.
Although a few members of the group were here two years ago for a New Year’s Eve performance at the Ghost Ranch, this time they’ve got a whole new groove, Franklin said.
“Instead of me trying to push it into what I wanted, I was just there to have fun and play good music,” said Franklin. “Everyone was so into writing tunes and bringing their original compositions, and as that happened, more and more I began to realize we were beginning to have a very different, special sound here.”
Franklin explained the band’s peculiar name, Smoke N Bones, is meant to symbolize a solid, yet tangible, element to the essence of the band. Bone stands for the structure of something durable and long-lasting while smoke hints at a more mysterious connotation. This deeper meaning relates to the band members’ backgrounds that came together by happenstance to form a strong, durable, musical connection.
Members of the group include Kyle Sharamitaro on drums and vocals, Kyle Cripps on saxophone and keys, Doug Dietrich on bass and vocals, Franklin on guitar and vocals and newest soul sensation Mykia Jovan on vocals.
“Mykia is one of those singers who makes you think to yourself, ‘Wow I may never see a singer like this ever again,’” Franklin said. “She really draws you in even though she may seem timid and shy.”
Each of these musicians have performed with prominent players in New Orleans with anyone from Trombone Shorty and Kermit Ruffinns to Bill Summers and Karl Denson.
“What I love about this group is that everyone is past wanting to take long solos, they are much more about making the music and making it into a real song,” Franklin said.
Past the egos and pressure of making a name for one’s self, this group is solely focused on making music. With each member deemed a highly trained jazz musician at the core, the music takes form almost as smoothly as the soulful, melodic notes transpiring from the stage.
“We didn’t practice any of the harmonies, people just started singing them,” Franklin said.
Steamboat can be considered as Franklin’s second home next to New Orleans as a place close to his heart with a real appreciation for music.
“I’ve waiting a long time for this type of group to form,” Franklin said of Smoke N Bone. “It’s the first time in my life where I didn’t push and it all came together on its own.”
With polished songs, original material and intricate harmonies, five musicians will bring their New Orleans roots to Steamboat for a show brimming with a sprightly old-school, Motown sound.
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