The band, whose name is Latin for “while I breathe, I hope” is feel good, frantic folk complete with fiddle and musical saw. There is also some foot stomping involved.
Banjo/guitar player and vocalist Bowie Johnson sings lyrics ranging from natural disasters to lovers that smell like gin, while violinist Rafael Rangell and musical saw, accordion player Anthony Yousko’s instrumental arrangements flirt with so many genres the music is just asking to be danced to in whatever kind of moves from the melting pot listeners interpret.
The band was originally formed on a train traveling north to Seattle after seeing a passage of poetry tattooed on a stranger aboard. The passage became the band’s name and motto from that moment forward. They integrated the message along with the many various forms of music they were inspired by to drive the direction they would go in. The band feels they cross many genres such as Gothic Folk, Gypsy Americana and Alt-Country without ever falling stagnant into one concrete sound. Though this variation in genre and tone can vary from song to song, Dum Spiro Spero says, “our music is unified by a driving theme: The creative rebirth of hope out of the decay of apathy and destruction. We weave new tapestries of sound scape that sets us apart from the common thread. We have dreams of travel, music, art, self sufficiency, land stewardship, bringing people together and changing the world.”
The actual make-up of the band is one part that has changed with time. After traveling down from Seattle, the band really started to take shape in an old gas station parking lot in Berkeley, California. At this point Dum Spiro Spero was a guitar/banjo and songwriter duo. The first addition came from another unlikely location; a violinist and a saw player were found in a horse barn in the Oakland Hills. Since then the band has added and changed members but the current lineup usually consists of a banjo/guitarist, vocals, saw/accordionist, violinist, bassist and drummer or some combination thereof.
Here’s them at the Taos Ale House.