By Julie Horner
It was early for a summer Saturday, walking the few short blocks to downtown in the promising warmth to check out the annual Boulder Creek Harvest Festival. Several local bands were scheduled to play throughout the day, and it was there in the cooler shadows of the morning where I first heard JnJ Dynamite quietly smoldering.
In that moment it all changed. It was as though I’d entered a dreamy, post narcotic state, like I’d stepped into the otherworld of a David Lynch movie. Her voice! And there was something mysterious about the music. It made me think about things. The layers of accompaniment nuanced and peeled back to reveal that stark, haunted vocal. Ripples of teenage nostalgia, joy riding and lazy summer days with nothing to do but hang out on the pier or ride the roller coaster over and over again. Classic cult of small town suburban America, settings both surreal and familiar; pieced together memories of youth and yearning and how to fill meandering time.
I bought the CD.
JnJ Dynamite is a semi-acoustic alt-folk trio based in the Santa Cruz Mountains. With a unique “lo-fi folk” sound, the band composes songs that are powerful and pure, that get down and thrill your soul. Lyricist Julie Di Mauro seems to write from a waking dream, lucid notes on psychological love stories both ethereal and down-to-earth. Her molten vocals drift and in and out of provocative piano arrangements that burn with a hint of discord and a twist of irony. Twin brothers, Dustin and Joel Di Mauro on electric and acoustic guitar provide a canvas of rhythm and sweet melody, while their backing vocals contribute to a sound that is complex yet strikingly spare.
The brothers have played music for a long time together, a hobby which began while playing in their parents’ bands. Joel married Julie and the three family members began making music together in 2008.
Joel says, “When all three of us are connecting and the music gets tight, it’s a certain feeling, and I’m hoping that Julie and Dustin can feel it too.” Julie agrees. “We have fun when we play out. And as Joel mentioned, when we play well, it feels really good. I like to think that our music makes people feel good. It’s been said that our sound seems healing and soothing.”
“We always get a positive response from the listeners,” adds Dustin. “And it’s great because 90% of our music is original. I know how difficult it is to get people to like your music and get it out there. It’s a slow grind and sometimes you feel like you’re going backwards.” Joel agrees and says, “But if people walk away from our show a bit more happy, relaxed and feeling good, then we have succeeded.”
Joel says simply that they’ve learned to enjoy what is around them, to appreciate the people and things that they have in their lives. The music becomes a frame. “Julie writes and sings about all kinds of different things, love, loss, being happy, enjoying your surroundings…maybe opening up to beauty that was never realized.”
The band is looking forward to getting back into the studio to record a second album. “We have a bunch of new songs we are working on. Sometimes the songs take a while to finish but it is always worth it.”
And of living the dream, Joel says the band wants to continue playing shows locally but also further away, “I think road tripping to shows is fun.” Julie has the same idea. “I’d like to get out and see more live music, to support the arts and our community,” and spend some time working on and sharing her jewelry. “And then I would like to plan a mini tour for JnJ, a few stops on the Northern California coast.” Destinations yet untold but well worth road-trippin’ to.
Experience JnJ Dynamite at lille aeske on Friday, March 25 2016. 13160 Central Ave (Hwy 9) Boulder Creek, CA. 95006. For more information, check out the Facebook Event.
On the Web: http://www.jnjdynamite.com/
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JnJDynamite
(c) Julie Horner 2015
Julie Horner is an Irish folk musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / leap2three.com
lille aesk downtown Boulder Creek