Preach Freedom and Connect – Music for the People

Preach Freedom and Connect – Music for the People

I have been following the band Preach Freedom and Connect (PFC) for a few months now. You may know Preach Freedom from his days as a drummer for nearly eight years with Rusted Root, and as a lead singer and percussionist with the band well known in Western New York and Pennsylvania called One World Tribe. PFC has a very eclectic range of talented musicians, each with their own magnificent flare and style. Not only are they all great musicians, but they are wonderful people with awesome personalities. You truly get to appreciate them for the true artists that they are. In speaking with them, you quickly learn that music is their life. They enjoy what they do, having so much in common, and what they don’t have in common works together in harmony.

With Latin and African rhythms combined with funk, reggae, ska, jazz, r&b, and hip hop, the sounds and rhythms they play pack a very powerful punch to the soul. From the moment the first chord, key, or tap of the drum is played, you are instantly energized and mesmerized by the quality of their skills and clarity in their instrumental expressions. The lyrics have so much depth that they touch the heart and mind deeply and inspire many positive reactions from the crowd. This feel good sensation makes you want to dance, all while giving your mind plenty of food for thought.

The musicians who make up PFC are: Roy Shimmyo (bass guitar), Jed Thomson (electric guitar), Marla Harris (vocals), Steve Davis (vocals and keyboard), and Norbbie Gavin (drums) and Preach Freedom (lead vocalist and percussionist).

In speaking with this band, and watching them perform, it is evident that PFC’s purpose in music seems to be to create, give, and connect musically with the people. I had the opportunity to ask Preach Freedom some questions about his expectations and what he hopes to achieve through his music, with each performance. He replied,

“My First expectation above anything is that everybody is having a good time. I intentionally set out to sabotage any bad energy. I try to bring some light and good vibes because I want people to feel good. I also expect too much from myself. I want to dance and dance with the people…I guess you could say I am very needy at my shows. I need love and reaction and In order to get that you have to give it. At some point you have to prove yourself when the lights go out and the spot lights are on. My experiences in life with people across the nation and as a father, come to the stage through my music. I aim to bring the news to the people. Hopefully it’s the good news.”

Preach F.
Jed Thomas, Preach Freedom, Michael Ragu Rogowski, Photo Credit: John Phillips

Marla Harris did an amazing job at overwhelming the crowd with her vocals and infectious smile. I asked her how she was feeling at the Iron Works that night and she replied,

“I was very excited to be playing at Buffalo Iron Works again! It’s a great venue and the staff there treat us well. There was a big crowd there that night and that always makes for a great evening of music. When you see people digging your music and enjoying themselves, it energizes you!”

Marla Harris, Photo Credit:  John Phillips
Marla Harris, Photo Credit: John Phillips

Roy Shimmyo, when asked what he hoped to do on stage said that it was important to see himself having fun because he thinks it’s important.

“If I am looking like I am having fun, it makes it easier for them (the audience) to have fun as well.”

Roy Shimmyo, Photo Credit:  John Phillips
Roy Shimmyo, Photo Credit: John Phillips

They certainly did appear to be having fun, but as a new band in a city like Buffalo, NY, the pressure is on to both impress and to connect with the people. Freedom’s comment to this was,

“At some point, you have to prove yourself. When the lights go out, and the spot light is on, you have to bring it!”

Jed Thomson, Photo Credit:  John Phillips
Jed Thomson, Photo Credit: John Phillips
Steve Davis,  Photo Credit:  John Phillips
Steve Davis, Photo Credit: John Phillips


Norbbie Gavin’s thoughts to this were,

“To bring it for me means to vibe or connect with the band – making sure that groove is sooo tight, people are movin’ patting their feet, bobbing their heads, throwing their hands in the air. The groove is so right you can’t help but to vibe out, never making it self-gratification.”

Norbbie Gavin, Photo Credit:  John Phillips
Norbbie Gavin, Photo Credit: John Phillips

Smiling and head bobbing was indeed happening that night for this band, and as the first group to perform, they successfully pulled their crowd in by playing to the people. This epic experience was clearly witnessed at their recent performances at the Buffalo Iron Works November 14th, 2014 and at the Dinosaur BBQ in Rochester, NY November 22, 2014. Both very different and very tough crowds, yet I witnessed them blow people’s minds, and build up great anticipation for more music to be played. PFC also allows other artists and musicians to join their band onstage. Some jam with them the entire night while others just long enough to give the audience a taste of their talents. In such a competitive business, I asked Freedom, “Why do you often choose to share your stage?”

“Music is a brother and a sisterhood. You should show comradery. Music is either good or bad. There can never be enough drummers, dancers, etc. I can never get enough! I put songs together where jumping up and playing with me is possible. I’m at home on stage and my doors are open to anyone. I let people come up because I love everybody, and if I see a musician vibing, who am I to tell them no. Bring that light up here! Hindsight, it’s probably not the wisest thing to do, but I have learned now to talk to artists first, so I know we share a common interest because the moment they set foot on stage I’m vibing on them.”

This is truly a fascinating group of talented and positive spirited musicians. I would highly recommend anyone from any culture or background to give this band a listening to. Their messages of peace, freedom, unity, hope, truth and love through the music can be internationally and universally understood and appreciated. They give 250% of their energy to their audience. Once they get on stage, the crowd doesn’t want them to leave and I think many will agree that the passion of this band deserves that type of reaction! They are a band for ALL people.


Preach Freedom, Photo Credit: Wendy Doloff
Preach Freedom, Photo Credit: Wendy Doloff


Visit their website at to find out more information on the band, see the latest news, videos, book a show or educational workshops, or to look at upcoming performances. To hear their latest album, you can download it from CD Baby or Spotify.

PFC Logo

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