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Band Fulfills Musical Ministry

Jericho performs songs from blues to praise.

Laura Readyoff of Herndon has been called the “benevolent dictator” of her band, Jericho, which has just finished working on its second album “Someday.” The band’s drummer, Phil Quinan, considers this dictatorship “the best form of government. There was a time when we tried to make decisions by committee, but this works much better.”

Back in the summer of 1999, this “dictator,” Quinan, and the rest of Jericho found themselves in a Fairfax prison facility playing a show for 100 inmates, by choice.

“It was definitely a unique concert,” said Readyoff, proficient in the violin, viola, cello, and bass. “The audience was so incredibly interested. And by the end of the show I found myself thinking that these prisoners had maybe at one time simply made a bad choice.” This forgiving attitude is not uncommon among Jericho members. Nor is this choice of venue atypical for the band. Jericho, however, is anything but the typical garage band. A Christian band on a mission to minister to the world, the median age of Jericho’s members, from what numbers they are willing to release, lies somewhere in the mid-forties.

“I thought the prison concert was awe-inspiring,” added Readyoff, “it reminded me that we are all sinners.” It’s this kind of attitude that motivates Jericho to continue playing and preaching, but there are other reasons as well. For Jerry Earley of Sterling, one of the band’s guitarists as well its co-creator, the desire to make music was spawned after stumbling across some of his children’s music.

“I had come down the stairs in my house to hear my daughter listening to lyrics saying words like ‘ho’ and ‘bitch.’ Pardon my French, “ he added, “I thought to myself, ‘there’s got to be some alternative to this’.”

So Earley sought Readyoff to create an alternative.

“EIGHT YEARS AGO I had a vision to impact people through music,” said Readyoff, one of the two classically trained musicians in the band. Since its start in 1995, Jericho has had as many as six members. Players come and go, as their schedules will allow them. Most have families and full-time jobs that make it difficult to find mutual free time for practice.

“It’s difficult to manage all these adults’ schedules,” said Readyoff, whose husband David joined the band in 1997, “but when we do find time, we rehearse in our guitarist’s [Pete Cowett] basement.”

“We have a good mix of people coming from a variety of area churches,” said David Readyoff, lead vocalist and keyboarder for the band. “It makes for an interesting mix of songs. Everyone has his or her own background and influences. The outcome is a wide range of music and styles.”

Quinan describes himself as a “fusion” drummer, but admits that the CD “Someday” covers a range of genres. Amanda “Boo Boo” Nitz, classically trained in voice, provides lead vocals, rhythm guitar, and piano for the band.

“People have never been too critical of our music,” Quinan said. “More often than not we are a pleasant surprise for them.”

“DRUMS ARE TOO precious to me to turn into a job,” Quinan said, over the sounds of his six children. A software manager from Manassas and self-proclaimed workaholic, Quinan has been playing the drums since age one. “My parents needed to get me to stop hitting the couch,” he said, “so they bought me a set.” His disinterested approach to the business aspect of music is reflected in the band's grossing $0 from the sales of its last album. The band gave away every CD.

“We hope that people may want to support our ministry by giving us a donation for the CD,” Laura Readyoff said, “but in the end we are a ministry. We are not the typical band.”

“Someday” is a mélange of songs from blues to praise.

“We took more time to do this disk,” said Laura Readyoff. “Bill Campbell helped engineer this one. He did a great job.” she continued, “Our first record was done in only two days and we were not accustomed to working in a studio. By this album we had learned how to work in a studio.”