This past week saw an amazing lineup for reggae music at Webster Hall. Iration was touring for their new album Hotting Up and brought along Hirie, The Expanders and DJ Amp Live. This line up made for a solid night of reggae. With different sounds coming from each band, a true treat was in store for the fans in attendance.
DJ Amp Live kicked off the night with some great reggae mashups. Putting unique tracks together over reggae riddims. In addition to the DJ kick off, Selena Zontos, from Skavenge Art was in attendance. Through the entire performance she painted a beautiful piece of a lotus flower and sun. It is always nice to see artists bring together multiple forms of art and music in one space for everyone to enjoy and share.
Before they hit the stage to perform on the Hotting Up tour at NYC’s Webster Hall we sat down with Devin Morrison, guitarist and singer from The Expanders to talk about the tour, vintage Jamaican reggae and a lot more.
Reggae In NYC (RN)
The Expanders (EX)
"I think we all feel a little sense of responsibility. If we are out here to play roots reggae music then we need to do what we can to pay homage to the artists that created it."
RN: Alright. So, let’s just kick it off. I know you are on tour right now for a few nights with Iration and Hirie, how has the tour been going?
EX: Yeah, it’s really been a good tour so far. We’ve done four shows. Iration has this pretty big draw, so the crowds have been really good every night. We’ve gotten to play a few places that we haven’t played. We’ve started off in Morris, Kansas and we always have a nice time there. Then we went to Madison, Wisconsin, which we had never been to. Then Minneapolis, which we had never been too either. So, it’s been really good. It’s fun to play.
RN: I saw you guys have some other guest appearances on the tour as well. As you get to the festival s with bands like Slightly Stoopid, The Green and Collie Buddz?
EX: Yes, yes, yes. That’s (Cali Roots Festival) at the end of May, and we’ve been doing that a lot. Three or four years. We really look forward to that because that’s like the ‘Coachella’ of the reggae scene. It’s the one weekend where all the touring reggae their come and meet up. Come together, hang out, and catch up and stuff.
RN: In the reggae community there’s a big conversation about root revival. The idea that bands like Chronixx, Protoje and Jah9 are bringing back the roots music of reggae. I would put you guys squarely in that category as well. What would you say about that, do you think roots ever went away?
EX: Well, thank you for putting us in that category. It’s hard to say because, us in this band, we never really pay much attention to popular music. We were always into roots. I think you have your trends come and go within any kind of music and it seems like lately with the artists you just described that there’s kind of a shift back towards what people would call “roots”.
I feel like that has happened several times since the 70’s, in the first wave of roots music. I feel like in the late 90’s and the mid-late 90s, you have artists like Sizzla doing his take on what we call “roots”. It went away again and it’s coming back. I think it’s always there, in some way. For us, it’s just what we’ve always listened to, anyway. It’s always been there for us.
RN: Let’s talk about your music. Your latest album has been out for about 9 months now. How has the response to that album been?
EX: It’s been great. We’ve been lucky enough to have fans who really seem to just dig the music for the music. We’re really happy with putting the record out on Easy Star and they've been able to get us some exposure and distribution that we probably couldn’t have gotten otherwise. The whole experience with Hustling Culture has been a really good one.