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Jamwah on fast track to writing its future

Members of the band Jamwah, from left, Ryan Bauserman, Beyne Smith, Clinton Sower and Chris “Risky” Conner, meet recently on the Loudoun Street Pedestrian Mall in Winchester. — Josette Keelor/Daily

By Josette Keelor -- jkeelor@nvdaily.com

When considering a name for their new band, "Everybody wanted something that was jammy, that was groovy," said Clinton Sower.

"I have this musical thing where I just put 'wah' on the end of everything," he said. They all agreed, he said, and bonus, "the URL was available."

With Chris "Risky" Conner on stand up bass, Ryan Bauserman on percussion, Beyne Smith on vocals and Sower on guitar, piano and vocals, Jamwah hit it off.

The Fort Valley band hasn't been together long -- not even five months -- but possessing a determination to fuse together their four styles into the band's musical library, its members already have begun carving a spot for themselves in the valley.

"We're really prolific at writing songs," Sower said. "All of us come together with our songwriting style."

Their influences include Queen, Rush, The Beatles, The Roots, Led Zeppelin, Bush and Radiohead.

"I want people to all be aware of the fact that we're conscious of today's lifestyle ... to how things are changing in the world," said Smith, who added that the band has a message -- "A message that's worth paying attention to."

That message, according to Sower, is "You are a good person. You probably don't feel like it, but we don't either. So let's party." But it gets deeper than that, he added.

"The struggle of being in a world where people own us" is a theme in his songwriting, and his lyrics talk of stress over what ultimately isn't that important. "We're not that bad," he reiterates. "The ego is not as important as we think, and when you're in the right place, you remember that and when you're in the wrong place, you're fighting for your ego.

"We're all alone right now, and it doesn't need to happen," he said.

After a summer of playing benefits around the area, Jamwah had barely began setting up paying gigs before fans started demanding an album. But Jamwah was hesitant to rush toward a digital production too soon.

For the four men who all have day jobs, "It's too fast," Sower said. "There's a lot of pressure still to have a CD."

For one thing, CDs take time, and the band is still growing their presence in the area.

"A lot of our gigs come up very quickly," Sower said -- like last Friday, when they secured a concert at 147 North Loudoun St. in Winchester, for that same evening.

So far they have two more lined up at Island Delights in Winchester, for Oct. 5 and Dec. 7.

Demand for the CD could not be quelled with YouTube videos alone, they said. Fans want both.

"The website is going to be the portal to all the free stuff," Sower said, and he hopes to be able to allow fans to upload photos from performances.

"I want it to take on its own breath," he said.

"But getting a feel for the sound ... it's definitely important," Sower said. "We're particular about our instruments," he said, "and I think it makes a difference for the audio."

There's a difference, for instance, between the sound of a synthesizer and a piano, he said.

"When you talk about a CD, you need a higher level of quality," said Sower.

Nonetheless, they have begun planning the CD, they said.

"We're laying down tons and tons of tracks," Smith said. "Getting the right people in place to be able to help us."

Having "a common vocabulary" is important to the band members when they think about building their reputation and repertoire.

Smith said he writes about whatever resonates with him.

"It could be things going on in my life or just things that I see," he said. "There's things that you see and things that you pay attention to."

Sower writes about things he wants to remember for the rest of his life, figuring if its worthy of memory, its worthy of music. He started playing guitar when he was 14, and as a senior in high school he planned to be a jazz guitarist, but instead he majored in history and philosophy at college.

It wasn't until this year, at 38, that he returned to music.

"The day of the full-time musician is over," said Sower, a cold fusion developer. "Now it's people like us who work for a living."

Smith, 27, is a microfarmer, and he said Conner and Bauserman, both 24, are exterminators.

"I haven't always wanted to do music," Smith said, "but I always wanted to be a writer."

Sower expects every day will be different for the band as it grows, but for now, being prolific is most important to its members.

Smith agreed, getting out there and doing more shows will help them set down more roots.

"My favorite is doing shows. Seeing people enjoy the music," Smith said. "I like that part."

For more information about Jamwah, visit www.jamwah.com.

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