Fans of reggae can feast their ears on the smorgasbord of regional talent performing at the Westcott Theater on Saturday, October 10. Alex Gideon, Thunder Body and Grayak each have a spot to give the audience a taste of their latest musical workings before John Brown’s Body takes the stage as the final act of the evening.
Alex Gideon, guitarist and vocalist from New York-based reggae/funk band The Fat Peace will be stepping on stage as a solo act, relying on his guitar and vocal skills while looping in other instruments and sound effects. Gideon has experimented with a collection of covers while also producing his own original songs.
Thunder Body, a Rochester-based reggae group, has continued to grow over the past few years, expanding its identity far beyond the reggae designation, incorporating ingredients of jazz and soul into an eclectic stew of energy. Matthew O’Brian, former front man of Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad leads the troop with vocals and percussion. With his drum kit uniquely positioned to the front of the stage, O’Brian mixes up the traditional musician arrangement, a visual metaphor representing their drive toward differentiation. Supported by Rachel Orke (also former GPGDS member) on analog keyboards and melodica, Dennis Mariano and Sam Snyder on guitar, Jeremiah Pacheco on bass and Brian Blatt with miscellaneous instrumentation, they spread messages of love both for humanity and mother earth, which are entwined in their encouraging lyrics.
Grayak is the beloved reggae/bluegrass/folk brainchild of guitarist and vocalist Phil Grajko. The band, rooted in Syracuse, also features sister Hannah Grajko (vocals), Brendan Gosson (fiddle and mandolin), Blake Propst (upright bass) and Tyler Dattmore (drums). The current lineup is a recent amalgamation of musicians that have begun performing together in increased frequency, branching out geographically to enrich their fan base. Grayak’s song lyrics explore the beauty and influence of the mysterious workings of the universe, intermixed with occasional subtle references to the zombie apocalypse.
Veterans of the national reggae scene, John Brown’s Body, an influence and inspiration for many of the musicians sharing the stage that night, will grace the theater, pulling from nearly a dozen albums of material compiled since their inception in the mid ‘90s. Elliot Martin (lead vocals), Tommy Benedetti (drums), Dan Africano (bass), Jay Spaker (guitar) Jon “JP” Petronzio (keys), Scott Flynn / Alex Asher (trombone), Drew Sayers (saxophone) and Sam Dechenne (trumpet) comprise this flock of future roots revolutionaries. They evoke a lion-like pride of tight-knit, well-rehearsed sound and thought provoking lyrics seeking to engage and empower listeners.