The 5th annual Aura Music and Arts Festival

by Steve Prendergast
The 5th annual Aura Music and Arts Festival at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida will run February 14-16th. Some 28 bands will be playing through the weekend. And, according to their official facebook event page “AURA 5 will feature live painters, an interactive arts village, craft and food vendors, yoga & meditation, and inspiring transformational workshops.” One of those bands playing Friday night is ZOOGMA. They are no stranger to SOSMP and we got a chance to talk to Justin Hasting who plays the guitar and synthesizer.
First off I found out the reasoning for why they named the band ZOOGMA. Justin said that it originally came from a worksheet for a college English class from ‘Ole Miss. He says it was actually the Greek word “zeugma.” Which brought me to my next question. What is the foundation and genesis of the band? I asked Justin if he could tell us a little about what music and or bands they listened to collectively that inspired them and influenced them to become the group they now are today.
“We pretty much listen to and are inspired by all kinds of music. That sounds cliche and standard, but it’s true. Classical, Jazz, Indie, Jam, Electronic, Rock, Pop, Blues, R&B, you name it and we dig it.” Justin explained that as they started to delve into bands that they loved earlier on like Dave Matthews band, they started to explore where the roots of DMB inspiration came from and then led them to phish. “Phish made me go back and listen to the Grateful Dead. This led me to listen to improv music from the 70’s, so then im digging on Herbie Hancock, Return to Forever, Zappa, Billy Cobham, Miles Davis, etc. Then you realize this is where the music you initially listened to came from”.
As I mentioned earlier, ZOOGMA is no stranger to SOSMP. They have been a part of quite few music festivals out here. I wanted to find out what some experiences he and the band have had that stood out in their memory. Justin went to on tell me “For Aura, the craziest memory, hands down, was the 8am dance off that happened between us, Damn Right! and The Malah…Thats all the details I can give about what actually happened, but it was hilariously epic and I will never forget it.” He said that another memory that sticks out in his mind is when they played a marathon 3 1/2 hr late night set. “We kept playing to try and reach the sunrise so we could play our song ‘Daybroke’ as the sun was rising”. He also mentioned that getting to see John Scofield for the first time, as he is one of his favorite guitar players. “He had a Blues set at noon that year and it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed.”.. He told me that he is most excited to see Superhuman Happiness and the Revivalists. “I have been listening to a bunch of their music, but I have yet to see them live, cannot wait” . He did mention that there might be some great opportunities for collaborative sessions that we might get to see this time around.
There are many of us who have downloaded ZOOGMA music and heard much of what they play from their website , Spotify and their reverbnation page I asked Justin what were we to expect when we see them live. “This is a hard question to answer” he responded. “I would say it is a bit different than our recordings, as we approach each differently. I would say our live show is different every night. He said a lot of it depends on the setting and the vibes they are getting from the crowd. “I will usually leave a 10 minute slot on the setlist open for whatever we are feeling at that particular moment, maybe a jam or extended improv on a song we normally dont extend or a remix banger or 2, it really comes down to what we are feelin’, ya dig?
We Dig.