Artist of the day: Rocksteady@8
Tampa’s Rocksteady@8 formed in 1999, performing the languid and soulful form of ska from which the band gets its name, and it has played semi-regular gigs at Yeoman’s, drawing a faithful following and festive crowd for each show. In the band are original members Jason O. Nwagbaraocha, vocals; Bryan Zink, guitar; Joe Grady, bass, and John Richardson, keyboards, and Kenny Pullin, trumpet.
After the jump, check out Julie Garisto's full interview with Rocksteady@8...
Steady as they go: Tampa’s Rocksteady@8 formed in 1999, performing the languid and soulful form of ska from which the band gets its name, and it has played semi-regular gigs at Yeoman’s, drawing a faithful following and festive crowd for each show. In the band are original members Jason O. Nwagbaraocha, vocals; Bryan Zink, guitar; Joe Grady, bass, and John Richardson, keyboards, and Kenny Pullin, trumpet. Victoria King, saxophone, and Dan “Duckie” Garrido, drums, replaced co-founders Brian Aulisio and Jonathan Priest. Nwagbaraocha answered questions for tbt*.
Do they cover Alton Ellis’ Rock Steady, which inspired the genre? “We tend to perform lesser known roots and rocksteady versions, like Ellis’ original Pure Sorrow or Yabby You’s Pharoah’s Plague. Some of those are still my favorites and are in heavy rotation in my CD player as we speak.”
Where does he get those moves? Rocksteady@8’s shows, and particularly Nwagbaraocha’s performances, are lively and animated. “In the early to mid-’90s I would catch reggae shows, sound clashes upstairs at the old Labor Temple in Ybor City. ... There was a local reggae band called I-Consciousness, a group with at least 12 rasta-dreadlocks in the band. Musically, they were the reggae Earth, Wind, and Fire, and they were incredible. They spawned bands like the original lineup of Democracy and other local artists like Ras Trent Mullins. So it was definitely an honor, years later, to do local ska/reggae shows on stage with Trent; that’s where I learned the dynamics of performing. He would extend chat lyrics, do impromptu call and responses with the crowd, anything to keep and maintain the level of excitement."
Side projects: “I am taking a break from touring with the Toasters for a while. However, I occasionally perform ska with the Strangeways. We recently did a show and compilation with other local Sarasota artists in protest of the local noise ordinance (noiseordinanceCD.com). John is a member of Infinite Groove Orchestra, Kenny plays trumpet for Magadog, and Joe plays bass with Christie Lenee’s band and is regularly on call for the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.”
Favorite show: “It was probably one of our first shows we had done, and one of the last shows of the old Oak Barrel in Ybor City. It was us and Magadog opening up for the Slackers – late 99? We were all friends, we were very hyped, and we were very, very drunk. Good beer and good times.”
Skanking with Luke Perry: “You know, I’ve never really understood the large commercial success that ska has had, especially in the mid to late ’90s. For me it was just a group of friends hanging out, drinking and making music that we really love. So the fact that the music has once again gone underground somewhat appeals to me. Then again, I was recently cut a check for a song I wrote in 1998, expounding on the ills of society, called Throw Away. I later found out it was used for the DVD box set for 90210. It wasn’t the target I was aiming for, but I guess in the end you never really know.”
Hear them: Saturday at 9 p.m. opening for the Easy Star All-Stars at Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St, Ybor City. $15. (813) 241-8600. myspace.com/rocksteady8.
-- Julie Garisto, tbt*