photo courtesy Chris Goldthorpe
Founding members Geebs, James and Mike have been making music as Ma Fondue since 2013.
Leah and Ward have worked together as the funky foundation of several musical projects and joined the band in 2018.
Nayibe "Geebs" Rojas
Born in Alaska, Nayibe felt the heat of Latin rhythms through her parents’ Colombian heritage, and was always piping out a pop tune or at least humming a Latin ditty. Her family moved south to Chelan, WA, where her 5th grade best friend dubbed her “Geebs" as Nayibe (pronounced Nah-GEE-Beh) was tricky to say- and still is!
Geebs continued to find her voice through her teenage years. High school choir, vocal ensembles and community theater helped solidify her true passion for singing. This led to study in Music and Theater at Mt. Hood Community College followed by touring with several bands throughout the Pacific Northwest.
She’s had the honor to have played the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival with Sonny Hess and her Northwest Women Rhythm & Blues Revue and has shared stages with Dave Mullaney, Kevin Selfe, Jimi Bott, Lisa Mann, as well as the legendary Norman “Boogie Cat” Sylvester.
Soaking up all the positive energy she receives from the audience, Geebs sends it right back over with her unique dynamic style- in her words, “the more you get down, the more I get turned up!"
James grew up in the 1970's and '80's in Sherwood, OR. Influenced by his older sister's record collection, he was exposed to some of the most significant music of the era. Artists like Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and Aerosmith were fundamental in shaping his love of music. Inspired by the musicians he admired, James began studying guitar at age 11 in a group class, and by high school he was performing in a band for school dances.
James' guitar talents led him to local country band Double Trouble/Straight Six in 1998. He worked with the group for the next decade playing gigs ranging from small honky tonks to arena shows. This was followed by a stint with the original Alt/Outlaw country band, Shawn Hawkins and the Offenders, and his contributions can be heard on the band's CD "Times Will Change."
He met Mike Zilis and Geebs Rojas through common musician friends and the combo came together to create the original Ma Fondue.
A gifted guitarist, James' skillful funk grooves, harmonic soundscapes and creative improvisations are an important part of Ma Fondue's sound. He also sings leads as well as harmony, making him true "double trouble."
Mike had the privilege of growing up in Chicago where music was everywhere. As a kid, his folks would take him and his brothers to see some of the jazz greats like Miles, Ella, Oscar and Brubeck. His love for music was further fueled by hearing the best in classical, blues and rock. At age 11, he started playing bass with his friends and formed a band a few years later. Mike also learned viola, playing in church and in the high school orchestra. But rock and blues drew him and he focused most of his time on practicing and gigging. It was a time of experimentation and protest and the music helped give voice to his generation of musicians.
Playing music ranging from Hendrix, Paul Butterfield, the Allman Bros to Herbie Hancock, Mike learned by ear and after moving to keyboards, he continually gigged and joined many jam sessions playing with great musicians in the Chicago area.
Music has always been a focus of his life and he has played in jazz, rock, blues and fusion bands in Portland for decades. He has been very fortunate to find players of like mind and together they have been able to make music that fills the soul.