A Lion’s ROAR Sparks Nashville’s Reggae Arrival
By: Michael Lenz
Listen closely…can you hear it? It’s the sounds of sweet reggae music!
While Music City may be better known for its country music scene; a devoted community has been quietly, yet steadily forming around a collection of artists and bands rooted in a love for traditional reggae music. Delivering a message of “peace, love and unity,” Nashvillians have been drawn to a genre that finds its roots in the countryside of Jamaica; and its expression in a spiritual, living God–a way of life known as: Jah Rastafari.
Helping this movement has been the band: Roots of a Rebellion. ROAR, as they are affectionately known; first met at Belmont University in 2010. It was there through jam sessions, recordings, and playing house parties that the band first discovered their unique sound that could now be described as “spiritual jam rock reggae.”
Troy Wiggins, drummer for the up and coming act, explains that their music has a deep and resonating spiritual message:
“Our music is about positivity and the attainment of consciousness, we want our music to be about something that is greater than ourselves.”
Wiggins is joined in this spiritual quest through music by band mates Austin Smith, lead singer and guitarist; Justin Smith, on trumpet; Marco Martinez, lead guitarist and harmonica; Jeremyck Smith, on Keys and melodica, and Adam Quellhorst on bass guitar.
The band’s unique blend of reggae, rock, and dub music has caught on with their passionate followers. The band’s music first reached a wide spread audience with their 2012 performance at Live on the Green. ROAR earned their spot at the popular concert series by winning Lightning 100’s Music City Mayhem competition. Since then, the band is blessed to have played countless shows in the Southeast. Some of the notable ones include sharing the stage with The Wailers, Slightly Stoopid, SOJA, Moe, NEEDTOBREATHE, and The North Mississippi Allstars.
On August 8th the band released their debut full-length album, “Heartifact” to a sold out crowd at the historic venue: The Basement. The album could be described as a living energy expressed through its heavy drum and bass rhythms, melodic harmonies and psychedelic-jam rock grooves.
Roots of a Rebellion show no signs of slowing down. Fresh off the first leg of their twenty-three city “What a Van Tour”, through the North and Southeastern United States, the band hosted the first ever “Jammin’ on Elliston Island” at Nashville’s revered Exit/In on June 7th. After positive reception from the community, “Jammin on Elliston Island II” is scheduled for Saturday, September 13th at Exit/In. The night will begin on the Hurry Back patio with raw, acoustic performances from Jo’shua Odine. Then inside the Exit/In, four bands will blow the roof off the house with the infectious rhythms and vibes from: Floralorix, The Chinese Connection Dub Embassy, Roots of a Rebellion, and Soul Radics.
Soul Radics hit the Nashville scene with blistering traditional sounds and gritty soulful melodies back in 2011. Virtually fearless, it’s an original take on ska, reggae and rocksteady with powerful female vocals and heavy, hard-hitting “riddims.” The band also features previous members of Nashville reggae veterans: AKA Rudie.
Joining ROAR and Soul Radics are Memphis based band: The Chinese Connection Dub Embassy, whose sound could be described as roots reggae meets soul (AKA Stax Reggae).
Rounding out the lineup is Floralorix—a newly founded reggae rock band whose members are more than familiar with this Tennessee reggae community.
Other notable reggae acts in Nashville that are not participating in “Jammin’ II” include:
MD and Cobalt Blue; Paradise Daze; The LTG; Downbeat Abbey All-Stars, and Ras Adam and The Dubraelites.
This scene has been emerging here in Music City for quite some time. If you want to inject some positivity into your life, put on your dancing shoes and come get “irie” to the sounds of sweet reggae music!
For information about any of the above-mentioned acts check them out:
Roots of a Rebellion: http://rootsofarebellion.com/
Soul Radics: http://facebook.com/soulradics
Chinese Connection Dub Embassy: www.ccde.bandcamp.com
Jo’shua Odine: http://soundcloud.com/joshua-odine
MD and cobalt Blue: http://mdandcobaltblue.com/
Paradise Daze: www.facebook.com/paradisedazemusic
The LTG : www.facebook.com/pages/leterogeon-brothers
Ras Adam and the Dubraelites: www.facebook.com/pages/Ras-Adam-The-Dubraelites