Simultaneously familiar and fresh, The Steel Wheels bring a singular energy to every note they play and sparkling craft to each song. This potent combination, paired with a robust tour calendar, have made the veteran band hands-down favorites of fans and peers alike. From their base in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, TSW have played the most prestigious festivals, listening rooms, and clubs in the world, cementing a reputation as one of the top independent bands on the scene today.
Over the course of many years of working in this profession, we in this field are lucky enough to be given the opportunity to meet countless musicians who have influenced us in so many ways. As fans, we create Paul Bunion like images in our minds of these people based off small snippets of themselves that they send out into the world, and can’t help but feel a bond with the version of themselves that they want to highlight, and sometimes even fabricate.
After an illustrious career that speaks for itself, David Hinds and Steel Pulse have forever shaped the history of music. The first non-Jamaican artist to win a Grammy for reggae, he has had a presence in the community since its grassroots days, and his influence is undeniable. We got a chance to sit down for quite a while with Hinds at this year’s Cali Roots festival. In this time, we got quite glimpse into his mind and his thoughts on modern reggae.
One of London, England’s premier reggae acts The Skints electrified the Cali Roots stage for the third time in their career this summer in Monterey. Blending reggae with every genre under the sun while still living up to their image as upbeat and energetic musicians from the UK, they have built a dedicated and worldwide following through their quality music and relentless touring.
Champion of modern Jamaican reggae, Protoje, has proven that even in modern times, traditional reggae is as relevant as ever. A staple of Easy Star Records, he has been one of the faces of the roots reggae revival, and since the release of his newest album “A Matter of Time” his influence is now more prolific than ever.
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is truly a person who lives beyond boundaries. An activist as much as he is an artist, his mission has brought him everywhere from the stage, to the courtroom, to late night television appearances, and there seems to be no audience he cannot reach with his message as he continues to use his platform for more than just a means to further his own growth. His lyrics and his everyday vernacular are blunt and at times transcendent in unexpected ways, but his passion for everything he does is ultimately undeniable.
Nashville Tennessee might not be where you would think to look for an original reggae sound, but for Roots of a Rebellion, that proved to be just the place to develop their own unique style of music. The six-piece band has been performing together for almost a decade. From college dorm rooms to cross-country tours, they have grown into themselves as musicians over the years and are enjoying the “blessing” as they put it to now finally be given the opportunity to spend more time performing on the West Coast.
When I first met Monique Powell, she was sitting on a bench, eager to show everyone around her photos that were taken of her around the grounds at Back to the Beach and admiring the production values that went into the festival’s decorations. Her energy and warmth were abundantly present, and it became immediately clear that the enthusiasm she brings to every Save Ferris show is not simply an act.
If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk. If you give a moose a muffin, he’ll want some jam to go with it. If you give a Pigeon a Ping Pong, he will create high-energy psychedelic funk music from jam given to previously said moose. By now you’ve heard the name Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, rising up the ranks of the jam world and dominating sold-out shows around the country. Their energy is unmatchable, their enthusiasm is undeniable, and they are just getting things started.