Material: Jaway is self-described as a combination of R&B, soul and Afro pop. The band shows a lot of flexibility within those styles, putting up-tempo, highly danceable twists on covers while also applying this fusion sound to original songs with thoughtful lyrics (“When Will We Learn”). While the chorus is simple, there is much wisdom in the verse: “First come together for the common good/To be a reflection of what we preach we want for all/That we are the lyrics of our broken song that’s lost it’s tongue/To change our actions is to change our daily attitude.”
Musicianship: The set mixes upbeat covers and slower ballads. The opener is “Make You Feel Good” with Vieten on acoustic guitar and Cornwell adding a little bit of shaker and hand drum. The band transitions straight into their Afro pop take on The Eagles’ “Hotel California.” The chimes from Cornwell border on overkill but the audience couldn’t seem to get enough of his shekere shaking. Marino has a great instrumental on “Muse” while McGullam and Cornwell really take off in a funky exploration of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground.” The group struggles with low sound levels but when they focus on their overall dynamics the issue is resolved. Overall theymanage to keep their originals tight with interesting key changes, funky breakdowns and strong finales.
Performance: Jaway immediately thanked his audience and got their hands clapping. Unfortunately he had microphone troubles throughout the set, ranging from height adjustment issues to a cable short. These technical snafus cut into his highly personal song introductions. The distraction drew the attention of the audience off the band and onto some noisy bar patrons. Jaway was undeterred by any of this. He worked the stage, taking the mic off the stand, continually engaging the audience and filling the dance floor. He adequately plugged his single and merch table, and by the show finale swapped microphone cables.
Summary: While Jaway can really hold a note and make covers his own, this particular performance felt like a teaser of a vocal power waiting to explode. Similarly, the band has a lot of potential for growth. Hopefully together they will continue to seek out more mainstream venues that will be more receptive not only to the music but also their message.
The Players: Jaway, vocals; Mark Marino, electric guitar; Timboli Cornwell, percussionist; Tommy McGullam, bass; Kurt Fries, keyboard; Shaun Vieten, acoustic guitar; Jim Salisbury, drums.
Venue: Viva Cantina
City: Burbank, CA