Winter Park / Live Music: Ohm Tribe – Music as uniting as ‘Mary Jane on a powder day’
March 28, 2008
Freestyles Sports Bar reports one of its biggest nights ever last week during a free concert by the Ohm Tribe, and the alternative reggae band has been invited back for an encore performance.
The band name reflects “the thought that we are One Human Tribe on this earth that can be united with consciousness spread through music,” said Teresa Hill, electric rhythm guitar player and the band’s main singer and songwriter. “Drawing from influences as vast as roots reggae, Ska and dub mixed with indie rock, grunge, hip-hop, and tribal beats, Ohm Tribe music reflects the dunes at the beach, Mary Jane on a powder day, the break in the eye, and the space between thought.”
Before she even had a band to name, Hill came up with the acronym OHM because she really believes “that international wars as well as personal conflicts begin with perceived barriers between people, but in reality we are all co-inhabitants of planet Earth, and must learn to respect each other as one tribe.”
Ohm is also a measure of electricity proportionate to its resistance, she pointed out.
“I find this inspirational to those of us who are trying to spark changes within our country on issues such as foreign policies overseas. The more resistance we prove to our leaders, the more energy grows from that very resistance,” she said.
At age 15, the musician listened as her brother rock his Gibson in his room and she secretly practiced on her acoustic guitar until she felt she had learned enough to jam with him. Inspiration came from other family members as well. Hill’s cousin Julia is not only a huge inspiration to her songwriting, but also to her realization that we can all make a difference. As a young writer in San Francisco in the late ’60s, Hill’s mother instilled the power of writing and the power of music during that era in her daughter.
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Other members of Ohm Tribe are Travis Smith on drums, Chris Bettey on bass, and Tom Camillo on lead guitar. Smith started drumming when he was 14.
“Being in a band is something I always wanted to try and after being with Ohm Tribe it is something I would like to do forever,” he said. Both grandparents, his dad and cousins all played an instrument so music was always around and Smith went on to earn a music minor at Oklahoma State University. He said he loves the live aspect of getting on stage and performing.
Before he even realized it, Bettey said he “found” music as an outlet from outside stresses in his life, specifically to help him deal with the pain of his parents’ divorce. He bought his first bass guitar at age 15 and although he was terrible at first, he said “the sheer power of shaking the windows in my mom’s house was pretty liberating. She was a pretty good sport about it.”
His former stepbrother, also a musician, introduced Bettey to some of the bands that have ended up influencing him over the years and his success showed Bettey “that ‘normal everyday people’ can actually reach great heights with focus and determination.”
Camillo has been playing guitar since high school and studied with various private instructors over the years. He had already been a guitarist in another band with Bettey and joined the already-formed Ohm Tribe last spring, after he and Jake Royall got the opportunity to play bass and open for the Ohm Tribe. Camillo was asked to sit in on guitar for a couple songs afterward, which turned out to be for the remainder of the evening.
“We had a great night and I really enjoyed playing their brand of reggae-infused jam music,” Camillo said, “so we have been playing together ever since.”
The musician, who usually plays bass for a variety of bands, has been playing in Grand County since 1995. The Ohm Tribe is the only band in which he plays guitar (an electric PRS), and he says it’s nice to get back to his roots.
With what has turned out to be a pretty big buzz going around the Fraser Valley about the Ohm Tribe, the band expects the upcoming show will prove to be a good night.
“We have been working hard to bring it up a level with some new tunes to keep it fresh,” Camillo said. The band is in the process of writing new material together and will be performing some of the new tunes Friday night. Camillo said he hopes
audience members go away from their performance with “a smile on their face that they can carry with them into the world.”