I love music, I’ve been playing for more years than not and other than playing in front of people, there’s nothing that keeps my passion for it burning like watching another band kill it on stage and progress in their music career. I could write about all the inspirational acts on this year’s Cali-Roots line up like 311, who along with Incubus put on the first major concert I ever went to, or Steel Pulse, legendary in their own right but special to me because they were the first show I went to with my son. However, I’d like to write about a relatively newer group, IrieFuse, who’s been quickly expanding their humble Nor-Cal roots further and further.
To me, these reggae rockers really embody the Cali-Roots spirit. In their few years together (formerly under the name Counter Culture), I’ve seen the group progress from playing dive bars to spots like The New Parish in Oakland with artists like Alborosie. What I love most is that no matter what the setting, the group always puts on the best show they can. From performing their songs with crisp, clean precision and raw energy, to doing the legwork before hand writing engaging, heartfelt songs, and getting the promo out, these guys put their all into their work.
What I love most is that no matter what the setting, the group always puts on the best show they can.
Front man Joe Endoso is usually the first person people notice in the group with his animated stage energy mixed with a captivating and powerful voice. What I like most about Joe is you can tell he puts his all into every note, literally transferring his energy on to the crowd as the rest of the band moves them with the music. Joe’s backed up on vocals by Ryan Lee who also holds it down on the keys and the dub FX, keeping things irie. The rhythm section is comprised of two of the most solid players I’ve come to know in the bay area, Shawn Brown on bass and Scott Bohm on the drums. Shredding on the guitar is Taylor Stecker and bubbling it up on the organ and synths is Pat Dwyer. Together, these talented musicians are creating the future wave of soulful reggae-rock coming out of California.
For most bands this would be enough, but the group is taking things to the next level for their fans with their upcoming release, Give & Get Back, an album funded by their fans without using any of the crowd-sourcing platforms like Indiegogo or Kickstarter. Musically, the album will feature a slew of new songs mixing Joe’s moving voice with existential reggae vibes from the band.
The band pays it forward too, as they are the first band to sponsor a new organization, Music 4 Meals, that aims to combat hunger in their home community through donations at live concert events and other programs. A band’s schedule can be really hectic and budgets tight, so it really makes me have faith in the power of music when I see a band taking the time to dedicate their talents to a great cause.
At their heart, IrieFuse is group of guys with a passion for making great roots reggae inspired music and a dream of doing that for a living. The energy is unforgettable. It reminds me of seeing some of the bigger acts at this year’s festival when they were just starting out and hungry just to get out in front of fans and connect. I’m sure the big acts will kill it on stage as they always do, but to me the real treat will be getting to see IrieFuse rock the stage and take the crowd along for the ride.