A lot of college guys start their own bands. They do it because they love music. They do it in hopes of going on to fame and fortune. They do it to meet girls.
Except that last reason doesn't mean much at BYU, jokes Mitch Mallory. "You tell a girl you have a band, and she says, 'Big deal, so does every other guy I know.' There's no shortage of bands around here."
But Mallory's band, The Yarrow, does stand out in another way. Yes, the guys love music. In fact, they love it so much "that we say we'll keep playing rock 'n' roll until the world ends or the Utah Jazz win the NBA Finals, whichever comes first," says Mallory.
But they are not in it for the money. In fact, they give away everything they earn.
"At our first concert, I think we got paid $35," says Mallory. "We realized we were never going to get rich, but we also realized that we didn't care if we made any money doing this because we love it so much. We decided to find a cause that we could support and give all the money to them."
That cause turned out to be the Community Action Services and Food Bank. They met with the administrators in January and offered their proposal, which was met with enthusiasm.
That day was a cold and rainy day, Mallory remembers. "The waiting room was standing-room-only with people needing help. It was cool knowing that we could help. Community Action's goal is not to provide a handout, but a hand up. The Yarrow doesn't bring in a lot of money, but a few dollars here and a few dollars there can make a difference."
In addition to Mallory, who does "lead guitar, face-melting solos, dulcimer and vocals," Yarrow is composed of Kraig Jacobson, who plays "drums, percussion and ribcage," Kyle Owen, on bass guitar and "octohorn," Jeff Harris, on keyboards and "theremin" and Morgan Williams on guitar and "bikelophone."
If you wonder what some of those instruments are, well … you'll have to go to a Yarrow concert. But it's clear that the guys are having a lot of fun.
When they are not making music, they attend college classes or work on graduate school applications. Plus, they all have other part-time jobs working at everything from architecture to religious education.
The Yarrow got started on a whim, says Mallory. "I saw a flier for a concert asking for local bands to come play, so I signed up. Then I called Jeff and told him we were playing. We got a good reaction, so we decided to keep doing it and got some more guys to join us."
The songs The Yarrow does are all originals, mostly written by Mallory, who has been writing music since he was 15. "I started playing the guitar about then, but I wanted to play my own music, so I started writing my own songs."
All the band members have been involved in music for a long time. Harris started violin in the third grade and then switched to piano at age 11. Williams is "one of those guys who took piano lesson as a kid and then quit. But I don't regret quitting. I'm not one who will ever say he wished his mother made him keep at it," because, he says, "my dad had a guitar. My brother and I taught ourselves to play." That, he says, was his instrument.
Jacobson, on the other hand, "started on the guitar, but I wasn't very good. My brother had a drum set, but he didn't play it much. I jumped on that and have done the drums ever since."
Owen got his first bass guitar in high school but wasn't sure he wanted to be part of a band until he met Mitch. "He kept harassing me to come play with them. Finally, I caved. I've had a lot of people ask me to go jam, and mostly they just sit and play by themselves. Mitch and Jeff were playing songs they had written. That was a lot more fun."
The songs talk of life and love and other aspects of being human, says Mallory. They are not necessarily autobiographical, but there are some truths in them.
"Yeah," jokes Williams. "I used to listen to break-up songs and wonder who those girls were who could break hearts. Since I got to know Mitch, I know who those girls are."
But there is also a lift, a positive outlook to many of the songs. "We want to make music that we'd not be embarrassed to listen to," says Mallory. "We're excited to share this kind of music, which we think is better quality that much of what you hear around on the radio."
The Yarrow is "really unique," says Stephanie Sage, who claims to be the band's No. 1 groupie. "I like their style. I like their creativity."
The band is working on a CD. "We're recording it in a home studio, but we hope to do something more professional, as well," says Owen. Proceeds from that will also go to Community Action.
Plus, they are up for gigs "any time, anywhere," says Jacobson. They do parties, receptions, company gatherings and will be playing at about 10 city festivals this summer. "We just love to play." (For information or bookings, call 801-722-9244 or go to myspace.com/theyarrow.)
The band's name comes from the fact that they were at the Yarrow Hotel in Park City at the Sundance Film Festival, "and I thought it was a cool name," says Mallory. "But I also found out it is a plant that grows in infertile soil. And since we want to grow good things, to do some good with our music, we thought that worked, too."
He hopes the band may inspire others to do good deeds. "Wouldn't it be great if everyone found something they loved to do and put it toward a good cause. The world would really be a better place."
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