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NOMO shows there’s way more soul

BY COURTNEY SPEARS | MAY 14, 2009 7:27 AM

How many instrumental concerts feature bands mixing invented instruments, medical equipment, and traditional brass? NOMO’s do.

NOMO, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Afro-beat band, will bring its innovative and funky sound to the Picador, 330 E. Washington St., at 9 p.m. Saturday. River and the Tributaries and Rally for One are slated to open, and admission to the concert is $7.

NOMO is coming to Iowa City for its second stop on a three-part tour, which includes shows in the Midwest, along the West Coast, and in Europe. NOMO released its latest album, Invisible Cities, May 5.

While six members of the instrumental group are on the tour, the band’s frontman, Elliot Bergman, said as many as 10 members might play at any given show.

“For our first show in Ann Arbor, I was challenged to get as many people on stage as possible,” he said. “We had 15 musicians on stage that first show.”

NOMO’s albums include numerous performances from other artists, but not all of the collaborators can make it to the shows.

“We try to get as many contributors as we can,” saxophone, brainwaves, and electric kalimba player Bergman said. “But I mean, we can’t really tour with a harpist.”

NOMO’s musicians each have other projects going when they’re not touring or doing other shows. Many have solo projects or play with other bands. Aside from Bergman, the group’s lineup includes Erik Hall (guitar/nu-tones/drums), Quin Kirchner (drums/percussion), Dan Bennett (baritone saxophone/percussion), Justin Walter (trumpet/percussion), and Warren Defever (bass).

NOMO has enjoyed success in various parts of the world, but Bergman said playing elsewhere has made him appreciate being an American.

“I feel privileged to be able to do this,” he said. “Touring has given me a better understanding of America and what a privileged nation it is.”

Bergman described NOMO’s music as lifting, danceable, and joyous.

“Our music has a dance party vibe,” Bergman said. “It’s upbeat and high energy, but also introspective.”


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