A musician’s nightmares about damaging equipment or being unable to find the scheduled venue might normally be the result of nerves.

Jessica Boullion
Nomo will perform at the Half Ass Saturday at 9:30 p.m. (Courtesy of Elliot Bergman)

But that’s definitely not the case for Elliot Bergman. As the frontman of African-influenced polyrhythmic jazz band Nomo, Bergman claims these recent dreams are more the result of excitement than anxiety. After taking a brief hiatus, the band will kick off their U.S. tour in Ann Arbor – the group’s birthplace – this Saturday at 9:30 p.m. at the Half Ass in East Quadrangle Residence Hall.

On the eve of their sophomore release, New Tunes, Nomo will go on tour with His Name Is Alive this summer to promote their dance-party sound. Hitting places such as New York and San Francisco, and even making a stop in New Orleans, Nomo plans on spreading their feel-good vibe across the country.

So why pick a small venue like the Half Ass to kick off the tour?

“I’ve been trying to get the gig at the Half Ass for two years,” Bergman said. “All our friends run it, so it’s almost like playing in our living room.”

Playing at a more intimate venue is ideal for Bergman. The Half-Ass allows the audience more of a chance to interact with the band – if you want to call it that.

It’s absolutely impossible to be a wallflower with the rhythm section of percussionists Dan Piccolo and Olman Piedra start laying down a groove.

“It’s not laid back at all; it’s exciting. People are dancing, jumping around, singing along and playing percussion instruments,” Bergman said. “It’s a highly participatory and ecstatic event, especially when we play in Ann Arbor.”

When the stage is filled with eight band members – sometimes more – playing an assortment of instruments that range from saxophone to thumb-pinao, the audience can’t escape the need to let go.

After being home in Chicago for a couple of weeks, Bergman is more than ready to hit the road and drive the few hours to Ann Arbor. When the band collects before a show, they go through a pre-game ritual.

“We just take a minute to get it together and get on the same page,” Bergman said. “We usually open the show with a free-bells jam.”

Nomo will also grace the Blind Pig May 13 if you happen to miss this show, and if that isn’t enough, their album New Tunes will drop May 9 from Ubiquity Records.

Saturday at 9:30 p.m.
At the Half Ass

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