Saturday nights show at the Ogden Theater was one that will resonate through Denver’s reggae nation for awhile. The sold out theater was jammed packed for a beat bouncing, horns blaring, bass grooving great time that should be the precedent for live performances in the music world. The energy that D.C. area SOJA and Colorado based opener Dubskin brought to town should be bottled and sold on the counter of your local 7-11, pop the top, release the beats, and blow the heals out of your dance shoes.
Dubskin, the Colorado based group whose latest album, Release From Fear, has gotten them noticed on a national level, is starting to get billing with some notable acts. The band opened for Matisyahu in December, but this is by far the best performance I’ve seen from them over the past couple years.
Dubskin’s energy was electrifying and lead man Jamal Skinner has a way with the crowd that shows professionalism and class, all while orchestrating the party. Drummer Cory Eberhard and percussionist Matt Grundstad are the bookends that tie together the grooves that are laid down by Dean Curtis(bass), Mike Tallman(guitar), and Jason Wieseler(keys).
Dubskin play all around Colorado, mainly Denver, Ft. Collins, and Boulder, go check them out next time and get some of that Irie love. There were two other openers, The Movement and Anuhea, I was unable to get there in time to witness and I apologize to those groups.
The crowd was in an overwhelming frenzy once the SOJA crew started setting up, you could cut through the anticipation with a pile of green leaves wrapped in paper. Each member of the 7-piece band came out individually and kinda strutted into place absorbing the roars from the crowd. I say that like they even had places on stage, but in reality the whole stage was their playground as they were constantly jumping around, high-kicking, and hippity-hopping on the multi-level grandstand.
There wasn’t a pair of legs in the crowd that weren’t bobbing and shuffling, the dance party was on! SOJA played jams from their newest album, Strength To Survive, which will debut in Rolling Stone’s Top 40 at #37 in the March issue right between Jay-Z and Beyonce. I can’t think of a reggae artist/group in the recent past that has made it that high up in the charts. With half the members sporting dreadlocks, they look like they are representing the islands themselves.
Lead singer/guitarist Jacob Hemphill and the boys are no stranger to success or Denver for that matter, after hosting last summer’s LOHI Music Fest at Highland Tap & Burger they returned to Red Rocks to open for O.A.R. and even popped into the tap for an impromptu jam session with some members of both bands mixing it up.
Over the course of the past few years, SOJA has sold more than 150,000 albums, headlined large theaters in more than 15 countries around the world, generated over 20 million+ YouTube views, amassed more than a half-million Facebook fans, and attracted an almost Grateful Dead-like international fan base that grows with each tour, with caravans of diehards following them from city to city. Most impressive of all, they’ve accomplished all this on their own. This 7-piece band has spent the past year and a half grinding it out from venue to venue.
After the show I was lucky enough to hang out with members of the band and get an idea of how these musical gurus are just getting started as stars but are so down to earth and just love hanging out with people. SOJA is blazing through the music charts and much like Dubskin they are representing a nation of love and peace showcasing members of different races and following in the footsteps of the great legend Bob Marley to spread good feelings and ultimate joy; one love, Rastafari!
Check out all my pictures: Here