SoCal Reggae All Stars Talks Supergroup Status, New Album and Weekly Wayfarer Shows
From left to right: Gerald Couchman, Pius Oyebanji, Jelani Jones, Michael Ortiz, Daniel Lopilato, Kitaka, David "Cirious" Elecciri Jr.
Reggae lovers looking for a weekly fix can convene at The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa on Tuesday nights, where the stage bustles with a rotating lineup of musicians known as the SoCal Reggae All Stars. Comprised of members from Steel Pulse, Common Sense, and Big Mountain, the super group views the weekly gig as a way to keep Southern California's reggae community engaged and growing.
Lead guitarist and producer David "Cirious" Elecciri Jr. anchors the group, and considering he's also a member of reggae staple act Steel Pulse, he's more than qualified. With an album featuring Baruch Hind and members of No Doubt pegged for release in early summer, the SoCal Reggae All Stars are poised to keep Orange County's reggae reputation flourishing. We sat down with Elecciri who shared his thoughts on the band, the new album, and the state of Southern California's reggae scene.
OC Weekly (Heidi Darby): How did you get the All Stars together?
David "Cirious" Elecciri Jr.: I felt like we needed to do something for ourselves, for this area. These guys are veterans in the game, so I was always the kid asking for new stuff. Over the years being here in Southern Orange County, you have a lot of world-class reggae musicians that people don't realize reside here. I was fortunate enough to link up with these guys. This was my way of getting everybody in my life involved with each other and creating a project.
Was it tough to get everyone together on a weekly basis? Tuesday nights are the nights when everybody's home. When you're touring you generally fly out on a Wednesday or Thursday and are home by Monday. Tuesday is the day that all of us can get together and do something positive for the reggae community here. For us as musicians, it's about the brotherhood, and The Wayfarer has been amazing for that. There's no other place in the United States like California when it comes to reggae right now.
Do you ever try out new jams onstage or do you mostly play songs from your other bands? A lot of the songs that we play are songs that we've been playing for years. There are some new tracks that we have recorded, but for the most part we're not playing those out yet. We're just waiting for the right time, and honestly I think the new album is going to be something really special. We've got so many amazing people involved [including] some of the guys from No Doubt.
How did No Doubt come into the picture?
Adrian is a huge Steel Pulse fan and came and hung out at our show at the Observatory in May. He sat in on one of the songs of our set. Afterwards we chatted about the Steel Pulse album and he offered to help me with the drum production. We got in the studio and really hit it off. We built a couple amazing tracks together and he called in Stephen (Bradley, trumpet/keys/vocals) and Gabe (McNair, trombone/keys/vocals) to lay down some brass, which was another success. We all share the same goals and vision of music here in Southern California. So I asked them to be apart of the SoCal Reggae All Stars project and they thought it was a great idea and they were more than willing to participate. Those guys are so cool and humble, it's about the music and the message and the positivity.
Can you share any details on the album? It might be a full-length album, not sure. But what I can say is that we're all excited and we've got five tracks done already. I believe in what we're doing, and I think everyone else involved does too. There's so much going on in the scene right now, it's cool to see all these other reggae bands in Southern California doing so great. I've been playing here for 17 years, just out of high school, and reggae has really taken off.
It sounds like things are coming together. Yeah, in March I got to sing in place of Steel Pulse lead vocalist David Hinds on tour. He flew in sick and was not able to sing due to his illness so he ended up playing guitar as I led the way for the band. This all happened so fast and was completely unexpected, since the roles were exchanged in Aspen during the 2nd concert of a six-date tour. It was the biggest moment of my career because they're the very reason why I began playing reggae music. Twenty years ago I was just an OC kid that had a dream of playing with my favorite bands, Steel Pulse and No Doubt. And here I am.
SoCal Reggae All Stars perform at The Wayfarer, 843 W 19th St., Costa Mesa (949) 764-0039; www.wayfarercm.com. Tuesdays, Free before 9 p.m., $5 afterwards. 21+.
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