East coast reggae-pop artist extraordinaire, Zander, is taking his music to novel heights with a video for “Sunshine State”, the title track off his recent Sunshine State Of Mind EP. The song, featuring Bernz and produced by Danny Perez and Keith Cooper, is one to not just soak up the sun to, but soak up some self-reflection while you're at it. Sometimes, we get caught in a rat race, stuck on auto-pilot; the trick is to recognize it before it's too late. Zander has a handful of solutions on how to pull yourself out of a rut and the world video premiere of “Sunshine State” brings his opportunistic mentality to life.
Zander is up for the challenge to live life to the fullest, so why don't we all follow suit.
Starting with a bird's eye view of the boardwalk, the video encapsulates Florida beach life to the fullest: bright seascapes, water sports and the mentality it's okay to just let the waves crash as they land. Living carefree isn't easy, even when the sun is shining and the grass is green. So, instead of wallowing in sorrow, Zander says go find your happy place when you seem “sick” and “nothing seems to fit”. You are your own worst enemy most of the time. “Open your eyes and look around,” chants Zander, ukulele in hand. This world can be a big, scary place… but it could also be the greatest adventure. Explore the world, explore your mind – “we're super free”, after all! Embrace challenge with vigor, knowing that setbacks only make you stronger. Zander is up for the challenge to live life to the fullest, so why don't we all follow suit.
I remember the first time I saw Johnny Cosmic up on stage with Stick Figure. I thought, who is this guy? Why didn’t I know about this new addition to one of my favorite bands? But, when you think a little harder, you know that Scott Woodruff would never add a new member unless it was a great asset to his musical vision. Once you see a performance with Johnny, you understand very quickly what a force he is, with his amazing musical talents and some visions of his own. He plays guitar, keyboards and if you’ve ever heard him sing, he’s got killer, attention-grabbing vocals. He is also extremely busy helping many other reggae stars produce their own music, such as The Movement, KBong, etc. It’s obvious that his passion runs through his veins. Most recently and while on tour, Johnny jumped off the bus in Nashville, Tennessee and and headed over to Third Man Record Booth. What came next was pretty magical.
…while on tour, Johnny jumped off the bus in Nashville, Tennessee and and headed over to Third Man Record Booth.
Third Man debuted its record booth, a refurbished 1947 voice-o-graph machine that records up to two minutes of audio and dispenses a one-of-a-kind 6” phonograph disc to the user. Whether it be a song, a message to a lover, an audio postcard or just curiosity in a process that has mystified so many folks for ages, “the ability to hear yourself as others hear you” is not only a tagline, but an invitation, a charge, a call to arms, as the website for Third Man Records states.
Not only did Johnny create this unique piece of musical art with six tracks, but he also created his own animation to go along with his song, “Lovely Day”.
In Johnny’s words, “This is my first attempt at a stop motion animation. It's a space adventure made for the song 'Lovely Day'. When the bus stopped in Nashville on July 4, 2018, I went over to Jack White's Third Man record store. He's got a recording booth there. It has one microphone and it cuts straight to vinyl as you perform. The record pops out of the dispenser and sounds like it came fresh from 1947 when the machine was built. Record crackles and all. I chilled there for a few hours and cut six songs with the machine.”
The sound and feel of the crackling record makes you feel like you have gone back in time – a time when things were much simpler. I just want to grab a drink and sit out on the front porch while listening to this heartwarming mix of songs. There is also a sweet chipmunk remix of the song, “Lovely Day”.
Lastly, I must add, if you’ve ever met or had a chance to talk with Johnny Cosmic, he is such a kind and warm soul who takes the time to visit with you and ask you a couple of questions of his own. When you feel that warmth from such a talented soul, it only makes you want to support him that much more. Keep ‘em coming, Johnny! See video and Johnny’s graphics of “Lovely Day” below.
Purchase or stream “Lovely Day” & other Third Man live recordings by Johnny Cosmic:
Reggae, folk and rock lovers headed in masses to Marshfield, Massachusetts on July 7th, 2018, ready to enjoy a full weekend of music amongst friends old and new! Marshfield is a quaint little town, tucked away in the wildnerness just adjacent to Cape Cod and nestled on the very most outskirts of the bigger Boston metropolis; naturally, Levitate Music and Arts Festival fits the bill. Back in its 6th year, Levitate has become known as the quintessential fest to turn on, tune in and drop out to the best jam bands in the business. And, what a weekend the 6th Annual was!
Levitate has become known as the quintessential fest to turn on, tune in and drop out…
As the Day One gates opened, hometown favorites The Elovaters took the stage to an already assembled crowd. People definitely rolled out of bed early for these cats! Brooklyn-based New Kingston had the honors of starting the side Soul Stage as The Suffers, all the way from Texas, took on the Main Stage energy. Ecclectic, electrifying and eccentric, Levitate was off to an epic start. The day progressed with Xavier Rudd's signature didgeridoo skills, Sam Fish's guitar shredding (in neon pink pumps, no less) and Ripe's 'Goon Squad' turning the party up to 11. There wasn't anybody having bad time at this point. Jumping from Ripe's dance party madness to Twiddle's mellow, yet momentuos performance over on the Style Stage almost defines the Levitate experience: this fest evokes every emotion, every sound, every wavelength. Robert Randolph and his Family Band got twangy on the Soul Stage before reggae-rock bellwethers Slightly Stoopid stole the show and got everyone singing.
Stick Figure closed down the Style Stage, complete with cameo by Twiddle lead singer Mihali Savoulidis and, of course, Stick's canine sidekick Cocoa the Tour Dog, before Phish frontman Trey Anastasio came out to uproarious applause. People were waiting all day for the Phish-meister to melt their minds! Trey Anastasio Band jammed through the night, ending on a cathartic note as Trey hoisted his guitar high overhead, standing poised in pure music majesty. As everyone filtered out of the Marshfield Fairgrounds talking after parties while the night was young, Levitate attendees were stoked to have witnessed such unique performances with a whole other day ahead. See highlights of Day One above and stay tuned for the Top Shelf Reggae Day Two gallery to come.
What better way to enjoy summer than by attending the Del Mar Concert Series? Each concert is free if you enter before the start of the last race. Why not come early, take a chance on a horse and get your groove on with sounds of summer? After the last race, collect your winnings, grab a drink and head on over to the stage, where you can feel the ocean breeze and catch a beautiful Del Mar sunset.
Steel Pulse gives you high energy guitar jumps, dreads flying and trio guitar jams.
On July 27, 2018, the Del Mar Concert Series welcomed legendary reggae band Steel Pulse to close out a day of racing. As soon as the winner crossed the line of the last race, fans grabbed their drinks and made their way over to the stage. There’s not a bad 'seat' in the house (standing room only, folks). And, who needs an opening band when you have Steel Pulse?! Steel Pulse stands for messages of love, justice and positivity that have remained the same and relevant since they began in 1975. Co-founders David “Dread” Hinds and Selwyn “Bumbo” Brown bring the energy and messages of peace, hope and True Democracy.
“We believe in love and justice, living in harmony with one another and nature. Our mission is bring hope into the hearts of people – that things can get better if we unite to do the right thing. Despite the wickedness in the world, we believe in positivity,” Hinds states on the band.
When you go to a reggae show, you think chill, irie, just swaying to the music, but Steel Pulse gives you high energy guitar jumps, dreads flying and trio guitar jams. Check out when lead guitarist David “Electric” Elecciri and five-string bassist Amlak Tafari joined David Hinds for a jam session and great photo op above and in the gallery to come. Fans were feeling the energy exude from the stage while singing along to the familiar lyrics like “open says a me, here comes Rasta Man” and “life without music”.
After much anticipation, Philadelphia’s Kings and Comrades have just released their third full-length studio album on August 3rd titled On My Way. Led by guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Jeff McCaughey, the band has come a long way since they began over a decade ago. Starting with only two members, Kings and Comrades are now equipped as a full ensemble, including a horn section made up of Frank Rein and Rick Rein. The band played the 4th Annual California Roots Festival and has shared the stage with the likes of Tribal Seeds, Josh Heinrichs, Stick Figure, Fortunate Youth and more.
This whole album emulates a feel good, positive sound.
On My Way already has Kings and Comrades fans extremely excited and listening to the new record on repeat! The band specializes in smooth, positive lyrics and sweet melodies. In a 2015 interview with lead singer McCaughey, he talks about their latest album, “Love songs are a big part of our style. Growing up, I always gravitated to the Lovers Rock style of Alton Ellis, Dennis Brown, Carlton and The Shoes and so many more. Love is such a big part of my life and I think that really comes through in the songwriting. There are a few other recurring themes, such as self-acceptance and escape. Sometimes, we all just need to get away from society and appreciate the little things in life.” The band has definitely stayed true to these roots with On My Way; songs such as “When I’m With You”, “One in a Million” and “Love You Right” beautifully showcase this.
Similar to their last 2015 album, Get Away, the band worked closely with E.N Young on the production of this album and is now out via Young's own Roots Musician Records. He produced all the tracks on the record, giving it a polished sound and even jumps on the song, “Ease Your Mind”! The song features that signature 'E.N Young melodica' sound and is about lighting a spliff and easing your mind with some good reggae music at the end of a long day. I can always appreciate a good horn section, so the first track off the album, “Life is Alright”, is one of my favorites. Jeff McCaughey has a one-of-a-kind voice that compliments each track very well. This whole album emulates a feel good, positive sound. Kings and Comrades have outdone themselves with this one! There's so much to love, from the inspiring lyrics to the catchy guitar riffs, soulful horn sections and precise drum fills.
On My Way is currently available on all digital outlets, so go pick up a copy for yourself and let the good vibes of this record take over… you will not be disappointed!
Summer in the northeast may be hot and muggy, but to beat the heat, there's nothing better than a good ol' fashioned block party! New Hampshire's own Roots of Creation (RoC) has teamed up with Granite Lion Entertainment this year to bring reggae-rock lovers a day festival they'll never forget. Going down this upcoming August 18th in Hampton Beach, NH at Wally's, approximately one mile from the ocean shore, is an extra special grassroots fest entitled Summer in the 603 — commemorating not only RoC's home state, but their “Summer in the 603” music viral video, featuring Super Secret Project friends! Naturally, this song will be performed during one of two RoC sets that day, alongside members of The Super Secret Project, the one and only Marlon “Ganja Farmer” Asher and trombonist Billy Kottage of Reel Big Fish; performance number two, of course, is Roots of Creation's Grateful Dub set: a tribute to the Grateful Dead that has spurred a national tour for the band as well as a critically acclaimed 2018 full-length album.
… get ready to put on your dancing shoes, New Hampshire!
Joining in on the fun are other regional bands like Mass natives Crooked Coast, The Quins and Buddahfly, as well as Ohio's punk-funk-fusion band Tropidelic, Joe Sambo, Marjerely Mon, Total Collision and Green Lion Crew who plan on doing a live dub set. If that's not enough, Fear Nuttin Band plans their epic return to the stage with their first reunion performance since October 2016. Round all that off with RoC keyboardist Tal Pearson on the turntables under the moniker DJ Budd Lyte and you have one heck of a party!
And, the party isn't strictly outside either. Wally's Pub is opening up it's doors to event-goers, providing its full bar and menu to attendees from start to finish if the outdoors food trucks and beer tent don't hit the spot. Outside activities are planned for attendees on top of musical sets, including corn hole — a signature block party game! Summer in the 603 kicks off at the crack of noon and extends until 1am, which is a pretty great party deal for a mere $30 ticket. Want the ultimate block party experience? VIP upgrades are available in advance, too! With Roots of Creation at the helm and so many outstanding bands in the mix, get ready to put on your dancing shoes, New Hampshire! For more information, visit the Summer in the 603 Facebook page or purchase your tickets here.
Summer in the 603 lineup:
Roots of Creation & friends [x2] (feat. Marlon “Ganja Farmer” Asher, The Super Secret Project & Billy Kottage of Reel Big Fish)
The Never-Ending Summer Tour featuring 311, The Offspring and Gym Class Heroes took over Mattress Firm Amphitheatre in Chula Vista, CA on July 29, 2018. Gym Class Heroes kicked off the show with fan favorites “Cupid’s Chokehold” and “Stereo Heart”. They were a lot of fun with a lot of fan interaction pumping up the crowd. The Offspring always puts on a fun show with a lot of energy. Fans always know all the words and there is something really special about hearing the words to “Bad Habit” screamed loudly by 10,000 fans! The ambience changed when a piano and candles rolled out for Dexter to play an emotional “Gone Away”. Everyone lit up the venue with their swaying cell phones. Closing out the show with “Self Esteem” got the pit jumping again though.
Everyone lit up the venue with their swaying cell phones.
311 never has the exact same set list two shows in row; that is a real treat to keep fans guessing on which of their favorite 311 songs will they hear that tonight. At Mattress Firm, everyone did get to hear “Amber”, “Beautiful Disaster”, “All Mixed Up” and “I’m Down” closing out the amazing Never-Ending Summer night in San Diego.
Every year, San Diego residents always wait with baited breath to hear who's going to be performing at the renowned Del Mar Racetrack in their famous free summer Concert Series. Year over year, more and more reggae acts keep gracing the racetrack stage and veterans Iration did the honors of kicking one of the premiere summer shows off! July 21st, 2018 marked the first Saturday of the season and right after the last race wrapped, a hoard of reggae-rock lovers headed over to the erected stage just beyond the track. Hip hop enigma Tyrone's Jacket opened, zigzagging around the stage with impressive energy. With spoken word monologues interjected between tracks, Tyrone's Jacket stole the show, with DJ Ry Toast scratching to the beat.
… Iration did the honors of kicking one of the premiere summer shows off!
After the TJ crew finished their transformative set, veteran Del Mar headliner Iration took the stage to uproarious cheers. With sing along radio hits like “Reelin” and “Hotting Up”, the crowd was entertained from beginning to finish. The Iration boys definitely brought their A-game to Del Mar that night! With so many great reggae Concert Series shows to go, the summer season definitely is off to a “Fly With Me” start!
Few festivals go above and beyond. Sure, the point of these three-day endeavors is to have the best time possible, considering most cost hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars for a mere weekend’s worth of music. For that price, the experience better be transformational. A decade ago, there used to only be a core three events to choose from, reigning supreme at the top of a music lover’s destination list. You remember those days: Cali’s Coachella, Bonnaroo down south and Chi-town’s Lollapalooza… with Van’s Warped Tour in between, of course. Nowadays, festivals are a dime a dozen and if you live anywhere near a main American metropolis, there are usually three or more happening within a few towns of each other on any given spring-summer-fall weekend. Festival season virtually lasts February to November these days and no one is complaining. That said, the struggle is real when it comes to determining which festival is more worthy than the others, for your hard-earned cash can only stretch so far. Enter, KAABOO Del Mar.
KAABOO Del Mar has rapidly become one of the most prestigious three-day festivals in the nation…
San Diego’s Del Mar Racetrack has been home to world-class events throughout its existence, most notably the Del Mar horseraces and the Del Mar Fair. Nestled between Solana Beach and La Jolla on the Pacific coast, Del Mar emits a luxurious vibe through upscale dining, shopping and discourse. Naturally, this part of town exceeds that of its neighbors, rendering it a prime candidate to host San Diego’s premiere interactive music, art, comedy and cuisine festival MIX-perience known familiarly as KAABOO. Now back in its fourth year, KAABOO Del Mar has rapidly become one of the most prestigious three-day festivals in the nation, comparable (and some would argue surpassing) that of its predecessors.
But, why is KAABOO so unique? Besides bringing top musical performers to the stage (with past headliners being Red Hot Chili Peppers, the late Tom Petty, No Doubt, Muse, Aerosmith and beyond), KAABOO Del Mar further satiates an attendee’s mind, body and soul with A-list comedians, renowned chefs, pamper stations, relaxation zones and too many hidden thrills to count. Get ready to strap on your explorerer hats, festy fans, for here are 10 things you probably didn’t know you could do at KAABOO.
1. Soak up the sun
KAABOO is proud to call San Diego home, so much so that the KAABOO crew brings the beach to you! Stationed throughout the fairgrounds are ‘soak zones’, with pop-up pools, shaded cabanas and stretches of sand to lounge, lay out and get your tan on. Can’t find them? Follow the sand!
2. Enjoy even more music
Speaking of pop-ups, KAABOO bands and artists tend to do extra intimate performances around the grounds each day – before or after their scheduled set! Vendors like Krave Jerky and others host acoustic performances, meet-and-greets and offer contest prizes, so keep your eye out for signs that promote special, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to interact with your fave artists.
3. Catch a bird’s eye view
Ever want to look out on a festival high in the sky? Well, KAABOO Del Mar will make your dreams come true with hot air balloon rides from sponsors like Hendrick’s Gin running around the clock, free or close to free!
4. Get styled & snipped
Every year, art vendors line the KAABOO-levard footpath that separates the main two stages, as well as pack into the air-conditioned building just adjacent to the Humor Me and Cuisine Stages (praise be to the AC, for it’s hot!!). Once there, you may notice KAABOO leisurely amenities intermingling between the artwork, with workers who will do your hair, fix your makeup or give you a full-body massage. Go ahead and get styled – you have time! To really get an interactive art experience, go find the Sniptease Clothing booth, where Melodie and her merry band of snippers will take whatever you’re wearing and turn it into a woven piece of art using nothing but scissors and their bare hands… and they do so while you wear it! If you’re worried about durability, don’t fret: your one-of-a-kind piece of clothing won’t fall apart in the wash.
5. Watch music collide with food collide with sports
KAABOO likes to break boundaries. Do you want to see Shaq DJ sporting full Laker garb? Do you want to witness Kelis literally making milkshakes to bring all the boys to the yard? KAABOO takes cross-sections from all pop culture and throws it in a blender. One could only ponder how this trend is going to continue for the 4th Annual!
6. Laugh your @$$ off
Throw the boundaries away completely with KAABOO’s Humor Me Stage. Over the past three years, comedians have had KAABOO audiences falling out of their chair, such as David Spade, Nick Swardson, Janeane Garofalo, et al. 2018 promises Craig Ferguson, Craig Robinson, Kevin Nealon, Nick Offerman, Pauly Shore and more, so get ready to ROFL.
7. Drink free Don Julio all day
VIP and VVIP packages may be steep when it comes to ticket pricing, but the perks are priceless. Enjoy free drinks, all day every day, from premium brands such as Don Julio while standing next to all the artists you love, just by upgrading your passes. Let's raise a glass to that!
8. Bring the kids
This fun fact may seem conflicting to the last hidden gem about drinking free tequila the minute you step foot on the grounds, but KAABOO Del Mar still allows all ages to come and join the festivities. Just be sure to drink responsibly enough to remember your kids are there. Challenging, but doable.
9. Stay after hours
The party isn’t over after the headliners leave the stage. When it seems it's time to go home, head on over to KAABOO’s Vegas-style late-night Club Elevate where you can rage until the wee hours of the morning. What’s Vegas-style, you ask? Well, imagine a cirque du soleil meets parkour meets Transformers vibe set to top EDM beats. These acrobats defy gravity, defy logic, defy explanation. It's simply mind-blowing.
10. Escape the hangover
Okay, so you stayed up late. You haven't slept in days, in fact. You shelled out so much cash for a weekend of fun and now, you feel like death before it’s close to over. Don’t stay home, KAABOO has your back! Straggle and stumble your way over to one of the various instaMEDS booths, where certified professionals and nurses can administer electrolyte-infused IVs to get you back in the game within the hour. Even if you aren’t necessarily dying, for a reasonable amount of money, you can choose from a menu of Vitamin C, B12 and multivitamin boosters to get you hydrated and having the time of your life without taking such a huge toll on your body.
To be honest, there is so much to do at KAABOO Del Mar, that this list barely scrapes the surface. To be immersed in the MIX-perience yourself, tickets are still available for the 4th Annual going down this upcoming September 14th-16th. For more information or to purchase your 2018 passes, visit www.kaaboodelmar.com.
Photography & videos by Kristy Rose, Chris Gomez & Celina Porter
Sammy “J” Johnson sits down after his Day One performance on the main Bowl Stage at Cali Roots 9 in Monterey, California to chat with Top Shelf Reggae's Kristy Rose. Coming off of his Sleepwalker tour, Sammy J chats about his latest Sleepwalker EP, his upbringing, getting back in the studio, his eternal love for snacks and more.