New lineup, new energy in Vail
VAIL, Colorado John Browns Body, which brings its revolutionary reggae sounds to Vail, Colorado Wednesday, has endured enough challenges to end the career of many a group. Nevertheless, the band has emerged, armed with a new lineup and a fearlessness born out of this musical near-death experience.When the group finished recording its fourth studio album in 2005, they looked forward to the prospect of touring in support of the release. Little did they know that they were also embarking on a series of events that would dramatically change the band.They endured the death of bassist Scott Palmer, along with the departure of three of the five remaining original members. Then, in 2006, lead vocalist Elliot Martin began to notice problems with his vocal strength and endurance. After months of doctor visits, the problem was finally revealed to be vocal polyps, requiring surgery in 2008.When Scotty passed away, explained drummer Tommy Benedetti, the other original member still with the band, that was a breaking point for people who may have been considering leaving. With something as heartbreaking as that, there was an obvious bookend in this bands career, so it made sense for some folks to take the opportunity to leave.Now back to full force, the new eight-member John Browns Body has been called Americas best and most original reggae band. Originally more deep rooted in the traditional roots and foundation stylings of their music, their new offerings have taken a more modern direction, moving toward a more spaced-out sound, with an occasional blend of the traditional roots. The New York Daily News described the groups music as more Massive Attack than Marley and reverent and revolutionary at the same time, a nod to their futuristic take on reggae music and their ability to put a unique twist on the sound.Progressive reggaeI think the strongest reggae was coming out of the UK in the 70s and early 80s, Martin said. It was the best produced, had the most complex songwriting; its the most progressive reggae thats been made. Of course we dont come close to some of those artists, but I think thats where the idea comes from that reggae can take other forms. I guess Im just saying that I see our music as progressive reggae.John Browns Body has performed with a variety of groups, representing a wide range of genres, including the Dave Matthews Band, Ozomatli, Broken Social Scene and Jurassic 5. In 2008, the band released Amplify, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboards Reggae Chart, ending the year on the iTunes best of 2008 list for reggae records.Each show back after surgery, I could feel myself getting stronger, Martin said. Now I think Im doing things I couldnt even do before. Add that to the energy of the new lineup and this new batch of songs and we cant wait to get back on the road.
What: Reggae band John Browns BodyWhere: Checkpoint Charlie, Vail VillageWhen: 6 p.m. WednesdayCost: FreeMore information: Visit http://www.streetbeatconcerts.com