Reggae Legends The Wailing Souls are Making Reggae Music for Right Now
Courtesy of the Wailing Souls

Reggae Legends The Wailing Souls are Making Reggae Music for Right Now

As anyone with a knowledge our Orange County and Long Beach knows, this region was once the epicenter of ska music, the precursor to Jamaican reggae music, or at least a Southern California, suburban, version of it in the country in the 1990s. Bands like Reel Big Fish from Huntington Beach, No Doubt from Anaheim, and Sublime from Long Beach, combined local punk rock with the upbeat skank of ska, like their L.A. contemporaries Fishbone and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, while adding in the general positive vibes and aura of Jamaican reggae music.

While the most obvious influence was certainly the eternal Bob Marley, the rich history of reggae music runs much deeper than just it's most ubiquitous superstar, and the influence of the band The Wailing Souls on reggae music and Jamaican music lovers can’t be understated. Since the late '70s core members Winston “Pipe” Matthews and Lloyd “Bread” McDonald have been expanding on the rocksteady, roots reggae, social justice minded sound familiar to fans of Bob Marley.

“Reggae music is for the people!” says Pipe of The Wailing Souls, “Like Bob [Marley] used to say ‘When it hits you feel no pain!’ Wherever I go to play music, people really grasp onto it because it’s positive music.”

After years of making music in Jamaica, and touring all around the world at various festivals in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, Pipe has recently resettled in Laguna Beach, a place not traditionally known as a hotspot of reggae music.

“Everyone have to live somewhere, my brother. This is Earth,” Pipe says about Laguna Beach. “As a writer, I have to live somewhere with a certain kind of environment. [Where] I can look and see what’s happening outside. Outside of America, and outside of Jamaica, into other parts of the world. That’s what I've always been doing. Everywhere you go there’s a lot of struggling and suffering. Reggae music is the people’s music, anywhere you go around the world, you can do it.”

The peaceful bougieness of South County has obviously provided some sort of inspiration for Pipe, as he’s currently gearing up to drop a record after a 10-year hiatus from releasing new music. But, since the ska and reggae scene in Orange County isn’t as prominent as it was in the 1990s, Pipe has had to look to another SoCal ska city to find reggae music musicians, Long Beach, where it’s often hard not to hear Sublime’s “Santeria” playing in one establishment or another.

“Long Beach is one of my favorite places since I’ve been playing in the United States.” says Pipe, “I usually record my demos here, and go record in Jamaica, but I’ve been recording with the Sure Shot Rockers at their studios in Long Beach.”

When asked if recording with U.S. musicians is different than recording with musicians in Jamaica, Pipe says, “It doesn’t matter where you are though, as long as you can find the best people to work with, you’ll get the sound.”

When asked if recording with U.S. musicians is different than recording with musicians in Jamaica, Pipe says, “It doesn’t matter where you are though, as long as you can find the best people to work with, you’ll get the sound.”

When asked if he started writing and recording music again as a response to our recent political realities, Pipe simply responds, “Yeah man. Now seems like the right time… Everything [in the music] is going back to the feel of the good old days. Original reggae music, which is hardcore… it’s for everyone, not just reggae people. For everyone. That’s how I write music. I write music for all age.”

The Wailing Souls will be performing at The Gaslamp in Long Beach on Saturday, January 28th. For full info, click here.

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