Nashville is full of a lot of music (okay, thanks for the “water is wet” intro, Sean), but finding solid reggae acts in Music City can be a trying (“well then maybe you should try harder, Sean.” Okay, I get it) endeavor. After a quick Google search, there are apparently a reasonable number of reggae bands from the tri-cities area in East-Tennesse, but in Middle Tennessee, legit reggae groups are few and far between. Enter Roots of a Rebellion, Nashville’s preeminent reggae-rock group going five years strong, having gone from Belmont beginnings to Nashville reggae rock stalwarts to Bonnaroo debutantes. I’ve seen them at different iterations of their formative journey as a band the past half-decade, and they put together one of the tightest and most lively live sets of anyone on the touring circuit.
Fresh off winning the ultra-competitve BMI “Road to Bonnaroo” series of shows, Roots of a Rebellion is set to bring their reggae rock renaissance to the New Music on Tap Lounge stage this Thursday, June 9th, at 5:00 PM. Known simply as ROAR (talk about an acronymic jackpot) to their fans, the six-piece’s live sound is likely to resemble its clever acronym, with a cacophony of horns and reggae revivalism that is sure to make ROAR one of the breakout stars of Bonnaroo’s debut stage. If you can’t catch ROAR at The Farm, you can see the band at the release show for their second full-length LP, A Brother’s Instinct, at Exit/In, July 9th, the day after the album releases. In anticipation for both the band’s 5:00PM Thursday set at Roo and their album release show on July 9th.
They’ve had one of the more impressive career progressions (and reggae-rock amalgamations) that I’ve had the privilege of witnessing in recent memory, and account for by far and away the most in-depth Nashville Five of Lockeland Springsteen’s Bonnaroo 2016 series to date.
Favorite Nature Park: Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Nature Park – Austin
One of the things I absolutely LOVE about Nashville is the proximity of sweet Mother Nature. You can drive ten or fifteen minutes in any direction and be in the sticks. Along with Music and the fabulous F’s of life (Family and Friends) I strongly believe Mother Nature is the closest way to connect with a Higher Power. Fresh air, flowing water, singing birds and bees and fresh greenery are only a part of the scenery I love when I go to Shelby Bottoms Park in East Nashville. They have a local farmers market every Wednesday, baseball fields, twelve miles of paved greenway trails for biking or blading, a disc golf course, a real golf course, and maybe most importantly, friendly people and dogs seeking the same joy and release. What more can I say? This is one of the coolest parks tucked away right smack dab in the middle of metropolitan Nashville. Get up, get out and get into Nature!
Favorite Book Store: Alkebu-Lan Images – Jeremyck
One of my favorite book stores in Nashville is Alkebu-Lan Images on Jefferson Street. It has been a staple in the Black community for 30 years and has been a source of African American literature and history throughout my life. It is important for your self esteem and self confidence to understand your heritage and where you come from. With a diverse afrocentric selection of subjects that range from religion, civil rights, diet resources, Kemetic (Egyptian) and ancient history you can find a lot of information about a culture that might seem distant but has inspired and made way for modern civilization. It is not just for those of dark hue or brown skin but for those who want a broader sense of history. Alkebu-Lan “mother of mankind” was the original name of Africa before the Romans started referring to it as Africa. So stop by and say what’s up to Yusef Harris (owner) and get cultured.
Favorite Nashville Band – Troy
Roughly a year and half ago, a seed was planted into the earth’s soil. The seed was sown, the plant was nurtured, and what bloomed is our favorite Nashville band, Floralorix.
Floralorix is a 4-piece “Cosmic Roots” band consisting of guitarist and lead vocalist Matt Daughtry, bassist and vocalist Samantha Joelle, drummer and lead vocalist Dan Twiford and keyboardist Kent Toalson. We all met Matt, Sam, Dan, and Kent before the formation of Floralorix, as each member was playing in various local bands around town.
The stars aligned when all four decided to start a band together and needless to say, we were extremely stoked on what was about to take place. The band was formed and for the first time, our local #TNReggae movement was now bigger than us, and ready for lift off. Each member can now be found behind layers of thick guitar riffs, one drop riddims, saturated reverbs, swirling organ sounds, and crisp three part harmonies: all of the necessary ingredients that make up Floralorix.
Floralorix is fresh off of their debut album, Bloombox, and so far it’s our favorite album released this year. Bloombox is an amazing blend of music and has a sound that is super, super fresh to Nashville and beyond. The grooves are danceable, the message is consciousness, and mostly importantly the music is pushing the genre outside of what most people think a reggae/rock band should sound like.
Favorite Coffee Shop: Sip Cafe – Marco
Growing up, I remember watching my mom relish over her first cup of coffee each day (and sometimes her second). Quality coffee is a big part of Puerto Rican culture, and it’s more about taste than just a caffeine buzz. Coffee’s also a big part of Roots of a Rebellion’s lives and finding a good cup on the road sometimes can be tough. I love when we’re home because that means I can go to my favorite spot: Sip Cafe. Sip Cafe is located off of Gallatin Pike in Inglewood. They do all their brews as a French press, and it makes for a fine cup! Sip’s building also doubles as Mike’s Ice Cream parlor. Whether you’re looking for desert or a pick-me-up, the vibe is always welcoming so be sure to check them out!
Favorite Venue: Exit/In – Austin
For a band that is very different from what people expect when they think of a “band from Nashville” there is no better venue that represents “another side to Music City” as the iconic Exit/In. When it opened in 1971 it became the first broad-based/underground music club of Nashville’s modern era and has hosted nearly every rock band to come through Nashville in the last forty-five years. The Outlaw Country movement started by Waylon, Willie and Kris happened within these walls. Sting is seen wearing an Exit/In shirt on the back of The Police’s Zenyatta Mondatta album. Red Hot Chili Peppers ate Thanksgiving dinner here one year. Steve Martin honed his comedy act and one time paraded the entire audience down the street to the Elliston Soda Shop, bought them ALL burgers, then marched right back to the venue and finished the show. Nashville is a town chock full of history and I personally believe Exit/In has some of the juiciest stories…
I’ll never forget the first time I saw G. Love & Special Sauce play to a sold out crowd in 2010 because it was also the first time I experienced Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad live! This was right around the time Roots of a Rebellion was being formed and these two bands heavily influenced myself and other members of ROAR. I remember hanging out back after the show just talking music and thinking how friggin’ cool it was that these incredibly inspiring artists were so approachable and accessible. From this moment on I was hooked on the Exit/In…so much so that I took a picture of the wall of fame outside and turned it into my very own custom phone case.
Fast forward a year and I’m walking around the internship fair at Belmont University (thanks to my good friend Lars who strongly suggested I go) and what do I see but a booth for the Exit/In. I walk right up and meet Josh and Shaun, express my genuine interest and appreciation for the club, flash my fancy phone case and luckily receive a call later that night offering me the internship. That Spring I had the pleasure of interning with Josh where I learned very valuable information and experience booking and promoting shows. This is the same time ROAR had the pleasure of opening up for Iration—our first show at Exit/In!
Since then, ROAR has played Exit/In ten maybe fifteen times in the last five years… two years ago we decided to curate our very own Reggae/Rock showcase called“Jammin’ on Elliston Island” featuring all of our local #TNReggae friends/bands as well as our other Southeastern friends/bands in the #IrieVibesMusicFestival family. Our most recent show at Exit/In celebrated Bob Marley’s birthday on February 6th and I’m happy to say after five years of building this scene from the ground up, the show finally SOLD OUT!
I’ll never forget Josh’s curious look when I told him I was forming a Reggae band in Nashville, Tennessee and my mother still can’t grasp the fact that I’m doing what I’m doing, but nonetheless I am wholly satisfied with the life I’m living and the underground community of spirit seeking individuals I’m blessed to call friends, musicians, and artists. I couldn’t dream of a better place to continue building this scene than the legendary Exit/In.