Joe and Pamela Jo met on a street corner in Ghent 6 years ago during the Sea Level Singer/Songwriter Festival. Joe was busking with some friends at the corner of Shirley and Colley when Pamela Jo happened to walk by. She stopped to chat with one of the buskers she knew. The rest is history as they say. They eventually sang together one evening at a studio jam session at SoniQual Studios. The musical chemistry was immediate. Pamela Jo and Joe know that their mutual love of music was one of the things that put them on a path to their marriage and artistic creation.
They had informally put together a few songs and were surprised to be asked to perform at a Spring Festival at the Five Points Community Farm Market. The thought of actually performing hadn’t been considered, but they agreed to do the gig. While driving on a road trip and listening to the first Amos Lee album, Pamela Jo’s phone rang and she was told that fliers were being printed for the event the next day. She was asked, “What is the name of your band?” They hadn’t even considered that they needed a “band name”. In that little space of time, when they were looking at each other and thinking “Uhhhh…” , Amos Lee sang the lyric, "But sometimes, we forget what we've got, who we are, and who we are not.” They became Who We Are Not in that moment.
They spent the next two years performing as an acoustic duo and writing a lot of original music. They met Dave Hufstedler at an open mic at Charlie’s Riverview, and he sat in with them playing an upright bass. Again, instant chemistry. Dave eventually joined Joe and Pamela Jo and they became the Who We Are Not Trio. Dave is one of the finest bass players in Hampton Roads and is a highly respected player in the Hampton Roads jazz scene. He exclusively plays upright bass with Who We Are Not.
Joe and Pamela Jo were out one evening and went to see bluesman Mojo Collins. Mojo had this incredible drummer (Cody Thornton), and they were rather blown away by his talent. Chatting with Cody after the show, they realized that he had taken the gig as a last minute sub for Mojo’s regular drummer. Cody had never heard any of the music he had just played. One year later Cody came in for an informal rehearsal, and it was instant chemistry. The Who We Are Not Band was born.
The group then decided that the music needed another “voice”, specifically an electric guitar. They were looking for a player whose style and influence was not largely based on blues and rock. Joe had been recording the Session Rockers “Lion Within” album at SoniQual Studios and had been working closely with Vincent “Biggs” James during that time. Vincent's approach to guitar playing is very unique and is rooted in reggae, jazz, R&B, and soul music. Some time after these studio sessions, Biggs came in for an informal rehearsal, and yes, there was instant chemistry… Biggs became the fifth member of Who We Are Not. Vincent is an amazingly talented musician. Among his many credits, Vincent played on Kanye West’s 2008 Grammy Award winning album Graduation.
It is an amazing thing for the right musicians to come together at the right time, with the right skills and ability, without any egos, to almost effortlessly create beautiful works of musical art. Who We Are Not is very fortunate to have that. Every note played by each musician is played for the benefit of the piece, not the specific player. Together they create music with technical complexity and subtle nuance. It is difficult to put the music of Who We Are Not into a defined category or genre. They have their own sound that encompasses rock, blues, jazz, folk, alternative, R&B, country, funk, and singer-songwriter characteristics.