Janoma’s five bandmates sat in a circle, ready to rehearse for their next upcoming performance, among fragrant smells, wicks, jars and blocks of wax at Madison Avenue Candle Company Monday evening.
The creation of the Janoma band started two years ago as a simple joke between friends, said 13-year-old singer Nora Gannoway.
Looking back, no one knew the result of a lighthearted conversation between Gannoway and 13-year-old guitarist Max Hutti would be Janoma.
Gannoway and Hutti began playing music together, and after mention of a great local pianist from Gannoway’s piano teacher, 14-year-old Jacob Reeley joined the band on keys, Gannoway said.
The hunt for a drum player began and ended with 16-year-old Rueger Walters, the current drummer and oldest member of the band, and the four of them began performing at events.
It was not until last December a friend of Reeley’s came to sit in on a practice, the bandmates said.
Fourteen-year-old bassist Megan Heise has been a member and performed with Janoma ever since.
“Megan did not play bass,” said Reeley.
Heise herself admitted that she was not a guitar player in any way before joining the band; she said she was trained on the French horn. She saw the band needed a bass player, so she picked it up and started playing.
Hutti said Heise took to playing the instrument incredibly quickly.
“She’s absolutely killer at the bass,” Hutti said.
The bandmates said Janoma specializes in covers of classic rock songs, with some country mixed in.
With a full roster, Janoma began playing more events. Gannoway said the summer is a busy time for the band, and they have only begun booking a large number of gigs recently.
Heise said having the mix of instruments Janoma has, rock and roll comes with the territory.
None of the band members actually listened to classic rock songs previous to performing them in the band, with the exception of Walters. He said he always liked listening to classic rock music and enjoyed performing it now.
Gannoway said everyone’s parents were a large contributing factor to the rising number of Janoma’s performances. They have been big supporters by helping to arrange gigs and getting word out about the band.
Heise said the band became more widely recognized in the past few months with the addition of the new appearances.
Reeley said because Janoma’s main audience is made up of adults, the band can connect with that era of music and appreciate hearing it at performances.
Gannoway said adults in the audience like seeing the band members play older songs and think it is especially “cool” considering the ages of the bandmates range between 13 and 16.
Reeley also said when the band first started, it was just a way for him to play music in his free time.
But now that the band is booking more gigs, the teenage musicians are getting paid for something that they enjoy doing, he said.
Gannoway said many people do not like their jobs. She feels lucky to get to sing, perform and make money doing what she loves.
Hutti said the band hopes to progress even further to play larger events more often in the future.
Reeley said the band will stay together and perform for as long as possible.
“The plan is to do it until we can’t,” Reeley said.
Janoma’s next performance will be at the Brickhouse Restaurant on Saturday evening from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Hutti said this gig is special because the band is dedicating it to a local family whose four-year-old son, Jackson Myerscough, is battling leukemia.
Heise said many local sports teams have been playing in support of the family and their online campaign “#Jacksonstrong” too, so the band decided to play its gig for Jackson.
Recent and upcoming performances as well as contact and booking information for Janoma can be found on the band’s Facebook page.
Alyssa Cravens can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]eiu.edu.