If you haven’t heard about RasCricket, then you must’ve been stranded with the cast of Lost for the past year. This Roots Reggae dynamo has a stockpile of musical talent and fires his musical weaponry at the hearts and minds of the listener. Cricket has graced the pages of our publication a few times last year and made the cut on our coveted “Deans List” by snatching Song of the Year honors. Skye P got a chance to sit down with the illustrious Rasta and got him to give us some insight on his humble beginnings and his latest efforts.
AS: Good Evening RasCricket, How are you doing?
RC: Blessings, guys. I’m doin’ great. Just got home from playing at a show and am about to dig in to some tracks to finish them up for the CD. It’s a lot of work doing your own project from start to finish, but I’ll be proud when it’s done. I just hope the printers don’t mess up my art, ha-ha.
AS: You are originally from Michigan. Were you born there originally and if so, what was it like growing up in the area?
RC: Michigan…well, first things first, they kinda just grow good guitar players from there, ha-ha. But I can’t stop with guitarists. Motown kind of got down into the soil and spread a good distance from Detroit. Chicago won’t argue, ha-ha. But I feel fortunate to have grown in an area that steeped in a true American original art form, which is/was Motown. Huge influence. If I sound like I got some “soul” goin’ on, that would be why. And before my phone rings, yes Mom, I got my “soul” vibe from you 😉
AS: Were you always inspired to create Reggae music, or was it something that grew over time?
RC: It’s actually been an ‘always’ kind of thing. However, I didn’t always know it was there until I looked back. There’s been a lot examples of looking back and going “Wow, that totally WHY I liked that song”. And it’s always because there some element of Reggae in there that drew me to it. There have been a few bands over time and some when I was young, that were “Reggae” and no one really knew. Some obviously so, but it’s funny to look back at some and see the reason I liked em.
AS: Many artists travel to start their career, you decided to move from Michigan to Oregon at a young age. What inspired you to make that move?
RC: Though Michigan was musically rich, it wasn’t musically “happening.” I knew the West would be better. Things are more green there, ha-ha. Moving to Oregon was the best thing for me and set the stage for some great things. *When I landed here at 19, I did the whole “live out in the hills” thing with no TV or distractions. Basically just music. Music and a very rich local culture of music. And it was nothing but deep Roots Reggae I was surrounding myself with. I wasn’t listening to Bob Marley’s “Legend”. It’s the most popular album in the world for good reason, but it’s not the music that changed my life. Listening to early “Israel Vibration”, early “Culture”, loads of real Dub music was what did it. One of my better decisions, for sure.
AS: While in Washington, you played in a few prominent Reggae bands. Those being Pure Water, The Cultivators and the Covenant Reggae Band. What can you say about those days?
RC: I had to go somewhere else to learn more for sure. And meeting younger guys hell-bent on only playing Reggae was what I needed to find. I was looking forward to the “schooling”. I found those guys in 5 days…and most of us were together for nearly 8 years. Getting to play in those bands with those guys was epic. I shared many a huge stage with some serious Reggae acts and got to meet many people who were once idols and watched them become friends of mine. Indeed a great time, but watching this current movement of Reggae artists here in Oregon start and/or flourish is a great thing to be a part of.
AS: You’re back in Oregon now. How is it going there? Why the move?
RC: Well, I never really left. Not all the way. I used to escape back down to Oregon as much as possible. Just coming back into the state has a vibe all its own. I think I can handle bad weather, or bad traffic. Not both. I was kind of doing the “value of life” math there and an opportunity came and here I stayed. When I came, there was little to no Reggae music being played. I had a band of my own called “Second Nature” and though we didn’t play for long, it was nothing but Roots music. And it set a few things in motion, Reggae music wise. What’s great is it truly seems people are more open to the message right now, and that gives me all the fire I need to keep on the same path. I’ve certainly never deviated. It was “Oregon Transplant” that kind of started to focus in on and bring to light the sheer vibes of reggae music. But with that group of musicians…wow, something’s gonna happen.
AS: You mention “Oregon Transplant” and there’s a live version of a song with them on your SoundClick page. What band is that? And can you please share with the readers why that name was chosen? (Please share this in story form, and leave no detail out, thank you.)
RC: Let’s say, ya ever wonder what Picasso would be like if there were five of him in a room? “Oregon Transplant” was a local group we started here that contained some very talented individuals. All of us were “transplants” into Oregon as well. We were all from different bands in the area that came together to form a super-group of sorts and it really worked out well. Everyone brought a little something different as far as expertise. It was far from just a Reggae band, we did all kinds of music and I actually played bass in that band; except for a few songs Id sing of my own. Earlier I mentioned how Reggae can kind of be “slipped” past ya if you’re not lookin. Well, I made sure that every crowd was getting a serious dose of solid Reggae bass, like the real thing, and I just know we, as a group, forwarded Reggae music and brought to light the reasons why people love that music so much. And the crowd really attached themselves to that. You gotta understand, we’re fortunate enough out here that live music is kind of a way of life for many people. Not just the bands, it’s the crowds out here as a collective. It’s a big family. And the spiral just keeps growing with ‘consciousness’ being at the center. Each one of us has gone on to do our own things and spread the vibes even further. We’re all still very connected and sit-in together all time. I’m glad to have been a part in help creating a vibe locally where anyone can play with anybody, and should do it with no ego. This directive, that we all still maintain, helped make Oregon Transplant a success, spread a lot of good vibes and great music to people, and caused one of those local splashes that makes big waves in a lot of ways.
AS: So Reggae music is really popular out in Oregon?
RC: Very much so. There’s a list of some serious “overground” artists in and around Oregon, West Coast style, and the list gets longer every day.
AS: You’ve played at many festivals around the region. What festivals or performances stood out the most? What are those shows like?
RC: There’s….wow, been a lot of those. The worst is breaking a string on a big stage. Done that. There’s my “Humble Filter” telling a story on myself first, ha-ha. Since you asked, I’m gonna shut that off a second, and share my most favorite stage moment ever: Opening for none other than The Wailers in a huge venue in Seattle. That place was long past any kind of limit or fire-code bizness for number of people. It was like a soccer match in South America, lol. The place was way over-full and just…nuts. Well, I played a loud, awesome solo. And then I played the same thing……with the guitar up over my head and behind my back. I saw and felt people surge forward like it was just….the craziest wave of people and vibes I’ve surely ever seen. *See “Epic Win”
AS: A particular sound often defines a bands musical signature. For example, Beres Hammond has a soft toned raspy voice and when heard, you can directly associate the sound to Beres Hammond. What is your signature sound?
RC: It’s always been my guitar. I love when people let me know I have a unique voice and that they like it, but…alas, it’s always been my guitar. From listening to Reggae for years, to guys like Junior Marvin whom I’ve had the privilege to thank him for all I’ve learned, I pick up on things like effect choices, amp settings, skank styles, etc. All of this has culminated into a pretty deep bag. The Reggae guitar skills and know-how get rounded off by a mix of jazz inspired licks and tones. I’d like to think I’m a little bit Junior Marvin, some David Hinds, and the rest Ernest Ranglin, ha-ha. A bit of Stevie Ray Vaughn & David Gilmour often poke though at times. I’ve always played the nylon string acoustic guitars and my new CD features quite a bit of it. That’s a unique sound.
AS: Reggae music has its greats, Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Maxi Priest, Barrington Levy, Shaba, and others. At one point, Reggae music dominated commercial radio in America in the early 90’s. Since then, the genre’s steamrolling pace has slowed down tremendously. Would you agree? In your opinion why has this happened?
RC: Well, frankly…my immediate reaction as a “Reggae Soldiah” is basically something like: “Babylon don’t want good things on the radio”. By good, I mean positive music that bent on uplifting you and not the opposite. Record companies want to sell and promote things unless they make people react in a kind of “Enquirer Magazine” way. Like, if it doesn’t slightly upset listeners or provoke them in that not-so-positive, sensational way, they don’t want anything to do with it. Reggae got too much truth fe dem.
AS: In 2004, a new style of Reggae was introduced to the main stream. Reggaeton sweep the airwaves, however traditional fans of Reggae refused to adopt this style of music as their own. What is your opinion behind the refusal, and what are your feelings toward that style of Reggae?
RC: Reggaeton eh? I’m absolutely and totally all about it. At least, I support it. I don’t listen to it really, I’m more of a Roots and old school guy, but anytime a region or culture can grab a form of music and make it their own, that a powerful thing.
AS: Let’s have a little fun. Let’s picture that music can be a weapon. Some artists use it to create awareness and to bring about change. Others use music for their own selfish gain. Let’s imagine your band as a weapon. What kind of weapon would the band be, and what message would this weapon represent? (Describe it in full detail, have fun and use your imagination to make us visualize the weapon)
RC: Hmm, great question. What’s awesome is that not only could the bands and artists I know answer this, the crowds, fans, and community would say the same. The weapon is Light. It’s what this music is. It’s Light so you can “see”. It’s Light so you can get vitalized like a plant from the sun. We need it and grow from it. It’s of the truest intention and Word, Sound = Power is the vehicle, and to the Light is where it takes us.
AS: How is your CD coming along?
RC: Everything is actually just getting ready to be sent off for duplication and I’m real excited about that. The manifestation of it all has been quite a trip. Musically, I’ve just always felt along the way that ‘those who will hear it, will hear it’, and that been a focus. Unless it changes, I’m too modest to beat down your door with advertising, so for the perhaps smaller number than some peoples audience, it will be appreciated and it’ll reach em. I’d think it was crazy Amped Sounds found me out if there wasn’t an actual wave of vibes not just coming from my own songs, but this area I live in. And again, I thank you guys for your continued support. Winning the “2009 Song of the Year” was a great honor.
AS: For those interested in your music, where can they go to sample a few songs?
RC: The best place right now is http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=975105. It’s got a few different examples of the different genres I mess around with.
AS: Do you have any performances coming up?
RC: Luckily, I play in about 3 different bands. I’m like an “associate” of a few other outfits as well so I’m fortunately performing all the time. The biggest gig coming up is June 13th at the Britt Festival in Jacksonville, Oregon. It’s a nationally known event and is easily the largest venue in Southern Oregon. That will have passed by the time this posts, but that a big one. There’s some great tours planned in the summer and fall and it looks like I’ll be
AS: Do you have anything you want to share that hasn’t been said in this interview?
RC: I took a few years off from mixing, producing, and releasing different CD’s. It hasn’t even been a year since acquiring the means to do it again. Needless to say, I’m excited to see the different works I’ll be putting together no matter what the genre. My next release will very likely be a mix of a few different genres.
I’d like to share with the readers some links to a few of the great artists in my area as well
The Human Revolution http://www.myspace.com/thehumanrevolutionband
Alcyon Massive http://www.myspace.com/alcyonmassive
Each one of those artists is casting out some serious vibes and making great music. I urge everyone to give them a good look and listen.
Thanks, Skye and Amped Sounds ~ It’s a big honor to have your support
~ RasCricket 🙂