by Halimah Collingwood
Ezra Bell is a 6 member band fronted by singer/songwriter, Benjamin Wuamett. Adding to the instrumentation is Jeremy, keys, organ and guitar (not all at once), a rhythm section of Maurice on drums with Tom on bass, soprano saxman Aaron and singer and vocal throat instrument, Honora Hildreth.
They have been performing in and around Portland for the past 6 years. They have produced 3 EPs and a recently released CD, Eponymous. You can listen to their song, ‘Raise Your Hand If You Slept in Your Clothes’ on their website at ezrabellband.com. Their music has been described as Indie-folk-rock-blues-jazz-R&B-pop.
I first saw/heard Ben at Menucha many years ago. He was struggling to learn to play guitar but his treble passionate vocals and his song-stories with depth and life-insight captured his audience. Who cares what this guitar sounds like we all thought. Give me more!
At the same time during our ‘Entertainment Night’, Honora would sing with abandon, accompanying herself on piano or guitar. She had her own style, too, and it’s no surprise that she fits in perfectly with Ben and Ezra Bell.
They have been on tour for months and when I saw Ben at his show in my hometown, Arcata, recently, he was showing signs of exhaustion – until he went onstage. Something about how performing gives a musician renewed energy. Their music is danceable, rhythmic and harmonic. Although sometimes the themes are about the extremes and tragedies of life, there is a happy quality that makes you feel good!
When I asked Ben what style or genre he called their music, he said, “Woody Guthrie described folk as music that ‘Comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable.’ We are definitely a Folk Band.”
(Editor’s note. From the band’s website: “Ezra Bell features Maurice Spencer (bass), Tom Trotter (drums), Aaron Mattison (horns), Jeremy Asay (keys and tenor guitar), and Honora Hildreth (vocals and auxiliary awesomeness) more-than-ably backing up Wuamett’s story-songs and satirical jigs with organic precision...”)