Student-led band En Jamb establishes itself in local restaurant scene
October 15, 2021
Those who have stopped to read the sea of fliers peppering first-year dorm doors and Thorne’s atrium may have noticed one promoting a band called En Jamb. The group, which has become one of Bowdoin’s most prominent student-led bands, began with three students playing music together this past summer.
While living in Brunswick in July, drummer Manny Coleman ’22, singer Bobby Murray ’23 and keyboardist Johnny Liesman ’22 decided to turn their casual jam sessions into a bona fide band, booking several performances at nearby venues.
“We started jamming together and started playing in a few restaurants and places around the area,” Liesman said. “We learned a bunch of songs to play and then…expanded the three of us into a larger band [for the semester].”
When the trio began to think about playing for crowds, they recognized that they would need a name. Due to their shared experience in a poetry course at Bowdoin, the group chose to derive their name from the poetry term “enjambment.”
“The name comes from us sitting in a room, not having a band name for like a half hour, and then I guess the prompt was to find something that connects the three of us,” Murray said. “I think Manny [Coleman] came up with ‘En Jamb’ because we were all in poetry together.”
After playing a few gigs at bars and restaurants in the area, Murray saw potential for the group to perform at Bolos, a bowling alley and bar located on Dunlap Street.
“This summer, I was at Bolos with a bunch of friends, and they had live music. I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is actually really fun,’” Murray said. “So I emailed the owner and asked if they wanted to do something like that [with our band].”
As En Jamb has continued to perform, the group has welcomed several new members, including singer Lily Randall ’23, bassist Dan Mayer ’21, and guitarist Kevin Ryff ’22. Furthermore, the group created a horn section with the addition of saxophonists Danny Little ’22 and Peter Littman ’23, as well as trombonist Atticus McWhorter ’22.
“With each person that we bring in, there’s a new element and dynamic that we get,” Liesman said. “That really changes the sound, and we’re always open to playing new songs and new styles.”
As a band that primarily performs covers, En Jamb is looking forward to expanding their repertoire as they grow in membership, according to Liesman.
“So far we’ve done mostly covers of popular songs…songs that people know but [that are] also really fun to dance to,” Liesman said. “We’re playing The Doors, we played Bruno Mars, Michael Jackson and Outkast. We’re a very versatile band, and we can kind of play anything that we want, especially with the horn section that we have now.”
The group found it initially challenging to rehearse due to the College’s pandemic safety protocols. Luckily, Liesman said that Student Activities has been accommodating to their practice needs.
“Practicing has been sort of a struggle for musicians right now, but we’ve been working closely with Student Activities to let musicians practice safely together,” Liesman said. “And they’ve been really helpful in that regard.”
While En Jamb has only been performing together for a few months, Murray feels that the band has worked incredibly hard, which has made the experience worthwhile for him.
“I can’t say enough about how amazing of people [my bandmates] are and how much fun they are to play with, and how dedicated [they are] to…putting something together,” Murray said.
On a similar note, Liesman expressed how much he enjoys performing with the group, and he hopes that En Jamb inspires other students to create their own bands.
“One of the reasons I came to Bowdoin was [because] I saw how cool the live music scene was,” Liesman said. “I just really hope people get excited about making their own band and doing their own thing.”
Halina Bennet contributed to this report. Lily Randall ’23 is a member of the Bowdoin Orient.
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