NEPA Scene Staff

Before Peach Fest debut, Harrisburg funk band Yam Yam plays at Jazz Cafe in Plains on Feb. 21

Before Peach Fest debut, Harrisburg funk band Yam Yam plays at Jazz Cafe in Plains on Feb. 21
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From a press release:

It was announced today that Harrisburg jazz/funk/soul group Yam Yam, who will make their Peach Music Festival debut in July, will first perform at the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains on Friday, Feb. 21 with the Brendan Brisk Blues Band from Wilkes-Barre.

Yam Yam has visited the area before, playing the Lackawanna Arts Festival in Scranton in 2018, but being added to the Peach will certainly raise their profile in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the general jam band scene. Their next tour, which starts this Thursday in Virginia Beach, includes some dates with fellow Peach Fest band Dopapod after they release a new song called “Mustard” on Friday, Feb. 7.

Doors at the Jazz Cafe (667 N. River St., Plains) open at 8 p.m., and the 21+ show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets, which are $5 in advance or $10 the day of the show, are on sale now and can be purchased online via HoldMyTicket.

The ninth annual Peach Music Festival will be held at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton on Thursday, July 2 through Sunday, July 5. The full lineup and schedule hasn’t been revealed yet, but the initial lineup includes an Oysterhead reunion (featuring Trey Anastasio of Phish, Les Claypool of Primus, and Stewart Copeland of The Police), Joe Russo’s Almost Dead with Oteil Burbridge, The String Cheese Incident, Turkuaz with Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads and Adrian Belew, a reunion of The Slip, Billy Strings, Rebelution, Umphrey’s McGee, moe., Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Twiddle, The Allman Betts Band, Jaimoe & Friends, Spafford, Keller Williams, Goose, and more.

Since their inception in 2015, coming together from an assortment of local bands in Central Pennsylvania, Yam Yam has grown from playing impromptu jams to a few friends to headlining sold-out shows and jumping into main support slots for bands like Lotus, Keller Williams, and Dopapod. The band – Mike Dempsey on keys, Jason Mescia on saxophone, Xander Moppin on bass, Tom Fuller on guitar, and Tyler Fuller on drums – is inspired by 1970s soul music, the New Orleans roots of jazz music, and modern/vintage funk and jam music, featuring raw instruments and a highly energetic sound.

Upon the release of their self-titled first album, the band hit No. 17 on Billboard’s Jazz chart during its initial week in November of 2018. They have become one of the best-drawing staples in their music scene, known as true innovators of their craft. Winning over fans of all ages, tastes, and genres, Yam Yam has built a reputation around their ambitions to be one of the forerunners in soul/funk/jam music.

The band is currently finishing up an EP and preparing to record another full-length album as they jump into festival season with Peach Fest, Some Kind of Jam, Domefest, WayneStock, Gathering at Chaffee’s, and more to be announced soon.

“When a new band catches the attention of a large music scene as quickly as this one has, it is never something to be taken lightly. Yam Yam is a project that has only existed for just over a year but, in that time, they have blazed a trail of extremely rowdy shows, all of which have turned into funked out dance parties. The sound of Yam Yam is one the likes of Medeski Martin & Wood, Vulfpeck, and BadBadNotGood. You can expect their set to be a delicious mix of extremely funky improvisation, fast-paced rhythmic Latin grooves, and covers ranging from Michael Jackson to Outkast,” Danny McCoy described.

Bred from his own studio in Wilkes-Barre, 28-year-old singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Brendan Brisk introduced his art funk sound in his 2016 solo debut “Astral Counterfeit.” The self-recorded, self-produced album fuses funk, soul, and jazz with influences that include Beck, Sly and the Family Stone, Thundercat, and Sun Ra.

In 2018, the Brendan Brisk Blues Band was formed. Brisk, bassist Bernard Gavlick, drummer Justin Malinowski, and trumpeter Miles Orfanella come together to create a melting pot of high-energy psychedelic blues/jazz fusion. Artistic integrity is encapsulated through the band’s wild improvisations, turning the Blues Band into a platform for experimentation, expression, and creativity. “Fanfare,” the first single from their upcoming record, premiered just last week on NEPA Scene.

“It had been a year or so since I played guitar with Fake Fight and Half Dollar, and I really wanted to do something on my own, so I asked Justin Malinowski and Bernie Gavlick if they’d play a one-time show with me at The Bog in Scranton. It was a show billed as a ‘folk night,’ so we played all blues covers and thus the whole blues band thing happened. People really enjoyed it, so we kept going, and about a year later, we were lucky enough to have Miles Orfanella join us on trumpet. He added a whole new flavor to the mix, and since then we’ve been entering into jazz and funk territory,” Brisk told NEPA Scene.

“I think people would easily be able to identify us as a jam band. That’s the only genre I can think of to label us with. There has to be a better term somewhere. I’m just really happy to improvise, write songs, and play original music. 95 percent of the songs we perform are originals, and they all have a different feel to them. I am extremely thankful to have such incredible musicians in this band. We each have something unique to contribute, and I feel like we bring the best out of each other musically. There’s nothing in this world I would trade for that.”

See the initial 2020 Peach Music Festival lineup here. Learn more about Brisk and watch him play some acoustic songs, including the 2019 premiere of his song “Color Blue,” in Episode 101 of the NEPA Scene Podcast: