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Vibrant energy, skillful musicianship, and guaranteed fun times? It can be hard to find all that in a band tailored to kids. But search no more, just go listen to Josh & the Jamtones. They joined us in-studio today on the Playground, our children’s program, and boy, were we lucky to have them.
Josh and the Jamtones released their first album, JUMP UP!, a year ago and since then they’ve come a long way. They played at the Life is Good Festival on September 21st and 22nd for their second consecutive year and they just won a Parent’s Choice Award. Described as “kindie rock,” they have a reggae influenced sound, pulling from the artists they grew up playing- Bob Marley, The Beatles, and Paul Simon. Other kid oriented artists they enjoy are Dan Zanes, Recess Monkey, and Father Goose. Josh & the Jamtones describe themselves as an “interactive, family rock-and-roll band,” and they are that and so much more.
In studio, the band opened up with “Jump Up!” one of their more popular songs off their first album by the same name, followed by a couple of songs from their newly released album Bear Hunt; these included “I Love U” and “Everybody Dance.” All three of these songs were very upbeat, and I found myself tapping my feet, ready to get up and dance along. “Dance party all day long,” Josh sang on “Jump Up!” and I totally believed him. His banter with drummer and band manager Pat Hanlin was fun and witty. “Wait, why do you keep stopping Josh?” Pat said in the middle of the last song to which Josh responded, “This is the part where we go really, really fast!”
Josh and the Jamtones give a fresh new take on the family band genre. They are interactive, and they connect with each other and anyone around them instinctively. At one point, they described the dance moves necessary for “Everybody Dance” to their listeners. “I’ve got my hands in the air,” Josh said, “and I’m moving in a circle.” These instructions get everyone dancing, and let them slip away into the music. Both parents and children can enjoy listening to Josh & the Jamtones as aspects of their music will honestly appeal to everyone. The sound is fun, catchy, and innovative. They’ve got harmonicas, shakers, and gorgeous a cappella voices. They have everything you could want for dancing around and having a good time.
When they’re live, Josh & the Jamtones mix it up. They let go. They have fun. Pat said that they like to have different competitions to get the audience involved. First they teach the moves, then they might see who can jump the highest, and they continue this until everyone gets into it. When parents see their kids that happy, they enjoy it even more. There are seven skilled musicians playing in the Josh and the Jamtones and each of them contributed to making the room, and the corresponding listeners out in Radioland, feel alive. With Josh on vocals and guitar, Derek on bass, Patience and Beth on a cappella, Ryan on electric guitar, Freddy B. on the harmonica and percussion, and Pat on the drums- the band was doing it right.
Part of what influences the band, and makes them so right, comes from the music and performance center Jammin’ With You. Josh Shriber opened the center in 2009 and there they offer lessons and programs to kids of all ages, teaching them about music with the focus on fun. With two daughters of their own, Josh and his wife Patience know how important this is. “Right now, it’s just about fun. It doesn’t have to be about anything other than just having a great first experience with music,” Josh said.
That is integral and Josh and the Jamtones offer the perfect outlet to do that. Dancing and having a good time puts everyone in the right state of mind. Their new album, Bear Hunt, was just released, so check it out. As Josh says of the band, “We’re not trying to be the Wiggles. We want to take our influences and keep it fun, keep it cool. Get the hokiness out. And if we can do that, then everybody wins.”