About a dozen friends and colleagues of the Philadelphia musician Yeho Bostick will take the stage of the Ardmore Music Hall this weekend to play a memorial concert in his honor.
Bostick, who was beloved in Philadelphia’s music circles across a wide range of genres, died June 24 after a long bout with cancer. He was 38.
“He was one of the most outgoing people you’d ever come across,” said Bostick’s longtime friend Jedd Buller, who is organizing the concert. “A lot of people reached out when he passed to say: ‘I didn’t even know him that well and I still vividly remember that time that I met him. He was so welcoming and so interested in what I had to say.’”
“He just had this clear, intoxicating charisma about him, and it rubbed off on a lot of people,” he said.
Bostick played bass, drums, and clarinet. He never released music under his own name but was a mainstay in the Philadelphia music scene, having played with a seemingly endless number of bands over two decades. Many of those bands will be at the Ardmore for the Sunday evening lineup, including Upholstery, Maggie Mae, Interminable, Trap Rabbit, and Darlingtyn, along with solo performances by Angelo’s Outlaw, Martonimous, Honeychile, and Yesseh Furaha-Ali.
“Honestly, I was hesitant to join because for me, personally, the thought of getting back on stage without him feels overwhelming right now,” said Ximena Violante of the band Interminable, inspired by Mexican son jarocho music, for which Bostick played bass.
“But when I reached out to the band, they were all like, ‘No, let’s go for it,’” he said. “I think it’ll be an important step in our grief process and in entering this new stage as a band, and to honor him. Obviously that’s the main goal in this event: to honor his memory, honor everything that he brought to the Philly music scene.”
Bostick was born Yehonahton Bostick-Epperson in 1984 in Philadelphia’s Logan neighborhood. He learned clarinet at a young age and attended the High School of the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) with an emphasis on classical and jazz ensemble.
While attending college in Miami, he discovered jam bands like Phish and the Grateful Dead. In 2019, Bostick told the Philadelphia music podcast 25 O’Clock that he turned away from the highly structured expectations of classical music, and towards more loosely structured improvisatory rock music.
“It’s so much a reflection of the energy between the musicians and the crowd,” Bostick said. “That’s so vital to me as an artist.”
After three years in Miami, Bostick came back to Philadelphia and threw himself into the music scene, finding connections and playing with musicians with backgrounds in funk, hip hop, folk, Latin, and techno.
“At one point in Philadelphia, including our project, he was in five different bands who were all performing,” said Buller, who collaborated with Bostick on an electronica project Eat Your Beats.
“Mind you, none of these acts sounded remotely like one another,” he said. “Whether it was our funky electronic music or the country and bluegrass type of band with Darlingtyn, or his Latin vibe band Interminable, or some very cinematic music that he had with Circadian Rhythms.”
After Bostick’s passing, the co-founders of Darlingtyn, Jack Shoudy and Emily MacDonald, posted a personal tribute to him on their Facebook page, saying his musicianship was only exceeded by his compassion.
“Yeho Bostick was a great player and an even greater friend,” the post read. “A truly unique soul the likes of which this world will never see again.”
Bostick had two fights with cancer. At first, it was bone cancer in his leg, which he beat back through chemotherapy, but it returned later. An Instagram post made last winter, shortly before his 38th birthday, was a long list of his hopes for the future. This is an excerpt:
I wanna see my gray hairs (and maybe even lose a few?).
I wanna replace my bionic leg after its longevity has run out.
I wanna make exit music for a film.
I wanna write a short story.
I wanna create art that takes time and patience, for longevity and legacy, versus simply “for the moment”
It was his last Instagram post.
The lineup at the concert on Sunday will have a wide variety of music that had been touched by Bostick. Violante said it will also represent an interconnected Philly music scene that Bostick had a hand in building.
“I like to say we’re one big band,” he said. “We all have overlapping members. You know: He was in this other band that recorded with our trumpet player who also recorded with this other person. We’re all just one big musical family, just different permutations of it.”
The tribute concert at the Ardmore Music Hall is unadvertised, promoted only on social media and word of mouth. The event is free.
Saturdays just got more interesting.