After several times trying to connect with Santa Cruz reggae rockers, Thrive, I had all but given up on our scheduled interview. It was Day 2 of Cali Roots and text messages aside, I figured there wasn’t much hope linking up with all the activity going on. Until that is, I ran into lead singer Aaron Borowitz hanging out backstage covered in a bunch of ladies.
Thrive has performed at every California Roots Music & Arts Festival since it’s inception. They have been representing their adopted Santa Cruz and now managed by festival co-producer Dan Sheehan, the band is touring non-stop. Thrive just dropped their new album Relentless, so I wanted to find out what its been like on the road.
Bohemian: Tell me about Cali Roots, are you enjoying yourself?
A.B.: Everyone has been really nice and everywhere I go people are smiling back at me.
How did you feel about your show?
Oh man, it was so awesome. That was one of the funnest shows I’ve ever played, personally. Not necessarily the musicality of it, but the vibe in the crowd.
Did you see a difference within the crowd? There are a lot of people up here from So Cal.
Yea, I see a difference in the people, but I see a connection in the message. It’s positive and everyone just wants to chill, no bad vibes, no fighting.
San Diego reggae band Tribal Seeds are rising stars in the landscape of California roots music. They have sharp, inspiring verses, solid stage presence, and vocals that melt. Both lead singers, Steven Jacobo and newly added E.N. Young, have that hypnotic, echoing vocal style similar to Harrison Stafford of Groundation.
With so many one-dimensional skank rhythms tying up the airwaves, it’s refreshing to hear a band that embraces melodic bass lines and off-the-wall keys. E.N. Young’s melodica performances practically steal the show. As was the case at California Roots Music & Arts Festival along with bringing up Rebelution’s lead singer, Eric Rachmany, Adam Taylor from Iration, and Kyle McDonald, singer/guitarist for Slightly Stoopid to sing “Vampire”, all while smokin’ a giant spliff.
Tribal Seeds are touring nationally with Slightly Stoopid and Atmosphere this summer. They play the Greek Theater in Berkeley July 19th.
Ever heard of Bulldog Media from Windsor? You have now – and you’ll most likely hear a lot more of them in the coming year. With 15 Bulldog Media crew members at Cali Roots Fest 2013, they were by far the most influential media presence on the ground. Check this Day 2 compilation video from five different “Bulldog” angles during Tribal Seeds’ “Vampire”.
My constituent David Sason has a cover story in the Bohemian this week about the rampant homophobia in reggae music, tracing it to the sources in Jamaica and examining the cultural roots of hatred. It’s worth a full read, and when you’re done, there’s even more here.
Dancehall artist Beenie Man has a quote in the article:
Beenie Man proudly performs his controversial songs, including “Damn,” which has him “dreaming of a new Jamaica” where he can “execute all gays.”
But perhaps it’s just a matter of semantics. In a 2006 statement, Beenie Man explained his point of view: “Jamaica is not against gay people. Gay means consented sex. What we have in Jamaica is not what it is in England, where two men live together. That’s not it in Jamaica, and these people fail to understand that. In Jamaica, gay is rape. It’s a big man with their money going into the ghetto and picking these little youth who ain’t got nothing. And then give them money and then involving them.
“There were 550 youths who got raped inna Jamaica, you know? And nobody seems to speak of that. Nobody sees the youth get raped and throat cut because the man who raped him, he knows him, and he doesn’t want him to go back and say he did it. And these things still happening.”
Obviously, Beenie Man is a confused individual with no proper set of logic and probably, I’m guessing, no gay friends. His explanation is about as preposterous as myself saying, “Santa Rosa is not against Canadians. Canadian means nice person. What we have in Santa Rosa is not like other places. In Santa Rosa, Canadian means fucking asshole. 550 youths were beat up by fucking assholes. Nobody seems to speak of that. All these fucking assholes are still around. That’s why I have a song called ‘Canadians Are Fucking Assholes.'”