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ROOTZ UNDERGROUND

Since their start in 2000, performing at live jam sessions in Kingston, Jamaica at Harry's bar, to RE Unplugged at Weekendz and then becoming the main act at Mystic Urchin's Tuesday Nite Live at Village, Rootz Underground have gained notoriety for their live performances.  The group performed live for five years before beginning the recording process for their debut release: MOVEMENT. The band has had the opportunity to perform at such Jamaican festivals such as Reggae Sumfest, Welcome To Jamrock, the Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival and Flashpoint Film Festival.

The six-member group unites Stevie G Newland (lead singer), Charles Lazarus (lead guitar), Jeffrey Moss-Solomon (rhythm guitar), Colin Young (bass guitar), Paul Smith (keyboard) and Leon Campbell (drummer) to form a revolutionary roots, rock, reggae band.

After a successful one year run at Tuesday Night Live in Kingston, Rootz Underground attracted the interest of Steve Wilson and Neil Robertson of Mystic Urchin, a seasoned team of management and record label professionals who have played a role in launching the careers of some of music's  highest-grossing live acts and top-selling recording artists out of Jamaica including Sean Paul, Luciano, Beenie Man, Cutty Ranks, Ky-Mani Marley, Farenheit, Jovi Rockwell and the Stone Love soundsystem.
 
The Mystic Urchin management team has partnered with Rootz Underground to direct a strategic marketing effort resulting in an artful web presence, interesting music videos and high profile performance dates.   MOVEMENT, is  the first of many to come on the Mystic Urchin label which has secured U.S. record retail distribution through Ryko Distribution.  MOVEMENT  is scheduled for a release date of March 4, 2008.  Ryko is home to many other kindred "roots" music independent labels such as Alligator Records, Blood & Fire, Pressure Sounds, Greensleeves, Tuff Gong Worldwide, and Zappa Records. Other distribution partners include Europe's Nocturne and Groove Attack imprints. 

Rootz Underground built its live show and readied the songs for MOVEMENT after the tremendous response they received from their community. Their shows rapidly became an institution in Kingston and throughout Jamaica.  The group developed a fan base that was fertile for this growing “reggae rock" music scene that has now taken "root" in Jamaica.   Employing the dynamic combination of a contemporary roots, rock sound, universal messages and energetic and compelling stage shows, Rootz Underground goes beyond a niche definition - reaching across reggae boundaries into pop music realms.

MOVEMENT has benefited from a sophisticated team crafting some of the greatest recordings in reggae today.  Each track of this 19-song set tells a vivid, nuanced story with moody - Jazz influenced guitar solos, nimble keyboards, ethereal segues, delay effects, traditional African/Jamaican hand drums, razor sharp mixing and call and response chorus vocals that find members harmonizing in agreement with the lyrical message.   A rich sound, full of careful layers, serves as a comfortable bed for some of the most universal and honest lyrics to rest in a reggae mix.   This sound doesn't rest alone in the reggae genre, the songs have a serious rock music sensibility with breakdowns into hard-hitting grooves, intense builds and smooth transitions back to the one-drop reggae rhythm.  The album’s use of interesting vignettes takes us into the realm of the underground and beyond to position ourselves in the movement for a closer listen.

First released to radio and as a video is the compelling VICTIMS OF THE SYSTEM, produced by Wayne Armond (as is the lion’s share of the record) that preps us for the mindset of a modern Jamaican “underground” twenty-something.  The current single and companion video for HAMMER features the production talents of Bobby Digital, an influential reggae and dance hall producer. The dreamy TIME IS AN ILLUSION is produced by Rory Gilligan of the legendary Stone Love sound system who makes memories of dancehalls past come to life on the album intro vignette taken from a 1990’s session shout out that introduces the 19-song set like a night on the town that lasts through the wee hours until dawn.    
 
The lead singer Stevie G has an urgent and focused stage presence, his vocals are delivered with reverent passion and a plaintive sincerity.  But the fact that he shares vocal duties with other members and takes an ensemble role makes him stand out from the “front man” role in the reggae genre, stating his message with the energy of the group and the compositions at the forefront of the mission.  The group members share the stage with timely instrumental solos or choreographed dance and vocal portions from other members forming an integral part of the Rootz Underground show.

At no other time in the history of reggae have its players been so widely accepted as the present. People from cultures all over the world look to the music and message of Bob Marley and the Wailers for sustenance, enjoying the standards of reggae excellence. Artists and bands such as Sean Paul, Damian Marley, Morgan Heritage, Culture, and Burning Spear tour continents filling stadiums and selling out festivals devoted to this revolutionary art form.

Now the younger generation has decided to take up their "arms" and come as warriors with words, sound and power to hip clubs in Kingston and subsequently to radio, TV and festival stages outside their island of Jamrock.  The band members of Rootz Underground have been schooled in the institutions of higher learning and mentored by present-day musicians and producers in Jamaica.  Their signature sound is inspired both Bob Marley's contemporaries in '70's traditional rock as well as modern giants in pop music.

Like the founders of reggae and their offspring who fuse elements of traditional reggae and ska, R&B, Jazz, Latin, rock and then punk rock, Rootz Underground uses elements of revolutionary Rasta-influenced reggae, trance, rock, Jazz, and dub to forge a modern reggae rock sound.  Reggae afficionados, critics, promoters and DJ's alike concur that Rootz Underground is a group that can make an impact as large as their predecessors in ensemble reggae recording and song writing, inviting comparisons to bands such as Midnite, Steel Pulse, Black Uhuru, Third World, and the legendary Wailers.

Many of the finest musicians in reggae are found on stages and in the studio as "backing bands" for touring artists. What this meant around the turn of the millennium was limited live music scene in reggae's homeland of Jamaica. Musicians would assemble in order to record music or back other artists, or perform recording session work for popular rhythms that multiple artists record over.  The vacuum created by  this tendency set the stage for the rise of Rootz Underground as a band whose originals present a fresh sound and paint a vivid canvas for the future of Jamaican music.

Rootz Underground
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