Date: Friday, May 23rd, 2014
Line Up: Steel Pulse
Venue: California Roots Music Festival – The Bowl – Monterey County Fairgrounds. Monterey, CA
Steel Pulse is one of the most highly rated and hard working reggae bands in the industry today. The passion and heart the band exudes through their music to an awe-inspired audience sets them apart from their peers. Steele Pulse continues to lead the way, bringing out the essence of Roots-Reggae at each festival and show.
They just returned from a concert in Lima, Peru in April and found time to soak in the Peruvian culture in between press conferences and interviews. They kicked off their festival season with the band’s first appearance at California Roots in Monterey on the first night of festivities.
It’s rare when a person witnesses a living legend on stage and almost 10,000 people were treated to nine of them when Steel Pulse showed up at The Bowl in the Monterey County Fairgrounds. Smiles, laughs and positive attitudes carried through the main stage arena and the photo pit transformed into a dance floor. Security guards realized they have no problems within such a friendly group and made the best of it by moving to the beat and joining in with everyone else.
One fan was carrying two over-sized reggae colored peace signs, one flying a Jamaican flag, another holding up a dream catcher, that was almost two feet in diameter. Nobody was holding up a cell phone. Everyone in the stands and infield had their eyes fixed on lead vocalist David Hinds wearing a rainbow robe like JAH-seph and the Technicolor Dream Coat.
After their opener, “Blues Dance Raid,” a Reggae-tinged version of the “Star Spangled Banner” and a few other classic tracks, David Hinds had the entire arena singing “Black and Proud” even though the crowd was a little lighter shade.
Haven Art Studio provided a couple of live-art dreadlocked women on stage as he danced, painting to the music while creating a masterpiece. Hinds has acquired artwork from the featured Artist Kirk O’Hara, who painted live on stage for The Expanders and Simpkin Project. O’Hara thoroughly enjoyed the set and loves “how they turned their set jazzy” and jammed all over the stage.
I spoke with a couple dancing throughout the set. Chuck and Mercedes were celebrating their 10th anniversary while dancing to the loving sound. Fists were raised and the echo of festival goers traveled through The Bowl screaming “Abracadabra, catch me if you can!” and “Here comes rasta man, catch me if you can!” While Chuck was in town supporting his friend’s band from Costa Rica, O Jo De Buey, he represented what everyone one else was here for: A family within a scene that ends up being more than a movement.
Every single time keyboardist Selwyn “Bumbo” Brown took a break from jammin’ with his hands, he grabbed the mic and spoke pure rhythm to our eager ears. With a San Diego Padres hat dawning an “SD” logo in green, red, and yellow, Bumbo Brown exuded a hint of youthfulness I could only hope to achieve in my short thirty-two years on this planet. A synchronicity in sound is something Steel Pulse does naturally and on a regular basis throughout their successful career.
With solid drums, energetic bass lines and a saxophone solo to match, this turned out to be the longest set that was over before we knew it. The ensemble on the stage before us represented the proof that reggae music is transforming and continuing to promote love, peace, and many other things that were going on that will not be mentioned. You just had to be here.
Brown continued to give his keys a break and snag the mic off the stand in order to move around the whole stage and teach everyone a lesson in original sound while we cheered and sang.
Steel Pulse will play The Catalyst in Santa Cruz, California tonight before heading east to play Artpark in Lewiston, New York with Ziggy Marley on June 25. After one solo show at Mojoes in Joilet, Illinois the reggae legends will do Bayside Rhythms Festival in the Virgin Islands, Levitate Music & Arts Festival in Marshfield, Massachusetts, and Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, Connecticut before leaving stateside to perform in Gibraltar, Belgium and England.
Follow then on Facebook and track them on Bandsintown for up-to-date concerts and appearances.
Steel Pulse Set List:
1.) Blues Dance Raid
2.) Worth It’s Weight In Gold
3.) Life Without Music
4.) Chant A Psalm
5.) No More Weapons
6.) Black and Proud
7.) Drug Squad
8.) Rock Steady
9.) Steppin’ Out
10.) Whirlwind Romance
Steel Pulse Website
Steel Pulse Facebook
California Roots Website
Article by: Blake Taylor
Photos by: David Norris
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