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SoCal Reggae All Stars Talks Supergroup Status, New Album and Weekly Wayfarer Shows

Reggae lovers looking for a weekly fix can convene at The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa on Tuesday nights, where the stage bustles with a rotating lineup of musicians known as the SoCal Reggae All Stars. Comprised of members from Steel Pulse, Common Sense, and Big Mountain, the super group views the weekly gig as a way to keep Southern California’s reggae community engaged and growing.

Lead guitarist and producer David “Cirious” Elecciri Jr. anchors the group, and considering he’s also a member of reggae staple act Steel Pulse, he’s more than qualified. With an album featuring Baruch Hind and members of No Doubt pegged for release in early summer, the SoCal Reggae All Stars are poised to keep Orange County’s reggae reputation flourishing. We sat down with Elecciri who shared his thoughts on the band, the new album, and the state of Southern California’s reggae scene.

OC Weekly (Heidi Darby): How did you get the All Stars together?
David “Cirious” Elecciri Jr.: I felt like we needed to do something for ourselves, for this area. These guys are veterans in the game, so I was always the kid asking for new stuff. Over the years being here in Southern Orange County, you have a lot of world-class reggae musicians that people don’t realize reside here. I was fortunate enough to link up with these guys. This was my way of getting everybody in my life involved with each other and creating a project.

Was it tough to get everyone together on a weekly basis?
Tuesday nights are the nights when everybody’s home. When you’re touring you generally fly out on a Wednesday or Thursday and are home by Monday. Tuesday is the day that all of us can get together and do something positive for the reggae community here. For us as musicians, it’s about the brotherhood, and The Wayfarer has been amazing for that. There’s no other place in the United States like California when it comes to reggae right now.

Do you ever try out new jams onstage or do you mostly play songs from your other bands?
A lot of the songs that we play are songs that we’ve been playing for years. There are some new tracks that we have recorded, but for the most part we’re not playing those out yet. We’re just waiting for the right time, and honestly I think the new album is going to be something really special. We’ve got so many amazing people involved [including] some of the guys from No Doubt.

How did No Doubt come into the picture?
Adrian is a huge Steel Pulse fan and came and hung out at our show at the Observatory in May. He sat in on one of the songs of our set. Afterwards we chatted about the Steel Pulse album and he offered to help me with the drum production. We got in the studio and really hit it off. We built a couple amazing tracks together and he called in Stephen (Bradley, trumpet/keys/vocals) and Gabe (McNair, trombone/keys/vocals) to lay down some brass, which was another success. We all share the same goals and vision of music here in Southern California. So I asked them to be apart of the SoCal Reggae All Stars project and they thought it was a great idea and they were more than willing to participate. Those guys are so cool and humble, it’s about the music and the message and the positivity. Read more

Inner Circle featuring Nengo Flow – Fall In Love – (Video)

INNER CIRCLE, THE BAD BOYS REGGAE, in collaboration with Latin Star, NENGO FLOW, drop their latest single titled, “FALL IN LOVE.”

Be the first to check out the single on iTunes! THE BAD BOYS OF REGGAE will head out on tour throughout locations in Florida, debuting the forthcoming untitled INNER CIRCLE album.

Make sure to check out the world premiere of the “FALL IN LOVE” music video.

Local singer brings reggae to ‘The Voice’

A local singer wants to bring reggae music back, but he’s taken an unconventional path to becoming a top contestant on NBC’s hit show “The Voice.”

Nineteen-year-old Menlik Zergabachew’s parents immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia in hopes of giving their children a better life in Silver Spring.

“It was really bad over there at the time,” he says. “They hustled, hustled for us.”

Zergabachew attended Paint Branch High School in Montgomery County but then, to his parents’ disappointment, dropped out to pursue a career in music.

“Of course it was hard for them,” he says.

“That’s what they worked for their whole lives. But now, after seeing me work and seeing me on this TV show, they feel safer. They don’t have to worry about what I’m doing.”

He says he can barely remember his blind audition for “The Voice”:

“I really couldn’t tell you what I was thinking. The whole time I wasn’t even paying attention to the words I said. I was just over-analyzing every little thing I did up there. Like, ‘Why are you swinging your arm? Aw, you hit the wrong note!’ Just all up in my head, just messing it up.”

After his performance of Sublime’s “Santeria,” Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani wanted him for their teams. He asked both if they would let him sing reggae.

“Of course! I love reggae!” Stefani said.

“I’ll let you do some damn reggae too!” Shelton said.

Ultimately, he chose Team Stefani but is now on Team Pharrell.

His goal is to take reggae music mainstream.

“I’m really into music that has a really, really deep message,” Zergabachew says.

“Positivity, standing up for what’s right — reggae is all of that. It’s the one thing I can listen to for days on end. I want to see all great reggae bands all over the radio. You never hear that anymore. You hear rock, you hear pop, but you don’t hear reggae everywhere. That’s the ultimate goal. It would be cool to be the biggest reggae band around.”

The Good, The Bad & The Ofay: A History of White Musicians Playing Reggae

Canadian band Magic! had a smash hit and viral sensation this year with their single “Rude.” Its melody and lyrics are pure pop but it’s music and title reference a genre with origins in a far sunnier climate, Jamaican reggae. They are far from the first white musicians to experiment with reggae’s offbeat rhythms and seductive grooves. Since the late 1960’s, some of music’s biggest acts have tried their hand at the style with varying degrees of musical (and chart) success.

Reggae evolved from previous indigenous Jamaican musical styles, slowing down the pulsing rhythms of early ‘60s ska, turning up the bass and often dealing with the spiritual themes of the Rastafarian religious movement. Under the guidance of superstar Bob Marley, it went global and made inroads into popular music, especially in the United Kingdom with its large Jamaican population. Its atypical rhythmic reliance on the offbeat and subtle instrumental complexity is one of the trickier musical idioms to master, especially for white rock n’ roll musicians who tend to play flat out. Many have tried, usually when using it more as an influence than a template, and many more have failed. Let’s stroll down musical memory lane and see which musicians have tried their hand at reggae “riddims” and see how they did.

read more at VH1