Thursday, February 15, 2007

Take the reggae ride: Album a journey through reggae, roots and ska

By Lucas Peerman Pulse Editor

This CD will reinvent your idea of what you thought reggae and ska 'should' sound like by exposing you to the next evolution of creativity within the genre. All of these artists have taken ideas based on ska and reggae, and combined them with their own love of hip-hop, Latin, roots and rock music.

With the above statement, producer John-Michael Vasquez describes his latest project, "Reggaenomics 101," a compilation of 14 reggae-esque songs from artists from around the country.

Five artists featured on the album will perform at CD release parties today in El Paso, Friday in Las Cruces and Saturday in Albuquerque.

"This album is another way for these artists to spread their music. The CD release parties, really, were an excuse just for us to get together," said Vasquez, the saxophone player for local band Liquid Cheese, which will perform at the parties. Other bands performing here and in El Paso are Radio La Chusma (El Paso), Fighting Chance (San Luis Obispo, Calif.), Over the Line (Las Vegas) and Warsaw Poland Bros. (Phoenix).

Liquid Cheese, a seven-member reggae/ska/Latin band with a complete horn section, has shared a stage with each of the bands featured on "Reggaenomics 101." From Shakedown (Sacramento, Calif.) to Soapbox Paradox (East Lansing, Mich.) to B.P.M. (Montgomery, Ala.), the album isn't only a tribute to great music, but an indication of how many miles Liquid Cheese has put on its traveling school bus.

Silence isn't an option on the bus as the sound system is always in use. Many times, the music coming through is from fellow reggae bands, which ultimately was the inspiration for "Reggaenomics 101."

"(The songs) are from the CDs that we listen to on the bus. These are the songs on our iPods," Vasquez said.

Some of the songs have a guitar-laden rock feel ("Love to Get Love" from Shakedown). Some go for an old-school Marley vibe ("Robin Hood" from B.P.M.). Others incorporate a DJ for a hip-hop sound ("La Junta" from La Junta). And one band even offers an acoustic organ solo ("Enjoy" from Over The Line).

Besides a focus on the upbeat (an element of reggae/ska), "what all these songs have in common is there's no genre to put them in," Vasquez said.

The album, which took about two years to produce, does feature six New Mexico bands, including Las Cruces band No Regrets and Danny Winn and the Earthlings from Albuquerque.
"Reggaenomics 101" will be available online at iTunes and other music-downloading services, as well as 2,400 stores around the country, Vasquez said.

Bands will also take copies of the album with them on tour to sell around the country. That way, every band on the CD will get their sound out to reggae fans across the country.

"We want to put the music into people's hands who might not have heard these bands otherwise," Vasquez said.

Lucas Peerman can be reached at

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