Jono Heyes grew up in an old goldmining village called Livingstone, situated in the foothills of North Otago in the South Island of Aotearoa (New Zealand). When he was seventeen Jono began teaching himself on an old guitar that was gathering dust behind a couch and had only two strings left. Little by little he found his voice and has since added hundreds of sets of strings to his guitar. Over the last 17 years he has crafted his own language drawing from an array of world music cultures, defying any attempts to be placed in one genre. The result is his own unique blend of world music that is an urgent call for ecological, social and cross cultural understanding.
In 2007, Jono Bono formed his world music group Mama Yeva in the South Island city of Dunedin and the first of hundreds of gigs was part of the international appeal by Amnesty International for the release of Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi. This in many ways set the tone for the group’s focus. For the last 7 years he has performed in Mama Yeva with over 50 different musicians from a dozen or more countries. They have performed at venues and festivals that promote ecological and social justice in New Zealand, Ireland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Heyes’s debut album The Fisherboy features the special contribution of Mama Yeva members including: triple Emmy nominee Trevor Coleman, gracing the album with soulful trumpet, melodicas and basslines; Beata Bocek from the Czech Republic singing backing vocals on The Fisherboy; AJ Hickling mastering and backing vocals on No tengo Pais, and Frenchman Edouard Heillbronn playing bass on Hungry Little Dog.