Fortunate Youth, a six-piece reggae outfit from the South Bay, know just how lucky they are. While "fortunate" may be an obvious descriptor for guys who get to travel the country playing reggae, the "youth" part has gained more significance as five years of recording and touring has expanded the group's positive vibe to a national, all-ages audience.
"We've heard from parents throughout the whole country that their 7- and 8-year-olds love our music," says drummer Jordan Walpole.
One particular member of the band's prepubescent fan base gets extra love and support from the group at each show she attends. "A good friend of ours has a daughter who was battling cancer at a very young age," Walpole explains. "She fought it and has been very successful. . . . She's happy and young and talented and amazing, and she comes to every show she can. We always give her a bunch of love; we're so happy every time she's there. . . . It's great to be a part of something that can help people in need."
The band also give back to less-than-fortunate youths by supporting a nonprofit that brings music-education classes to underfunded inner-city schools. "For the past couple of years, we've been part of a compilation called Music Unites, which was released digitally and hit huge on the Billboard charts," Walpole says. "We're lucky that, as we get more popular, we can help others and remain appreciative of everything."
Formed from the ashes of two previous bands, the members of Fortunate Youth have been working nearly nonstop since they joined forces five years ago. "Our first show was for our manager's birthday party on short notice, and we felt so fortunate to get together and have that happen," Walpole says. The group turned that feeling into not only a band name, but also a mission statement.
"No matter what music we grew up on, all of us feel the passion and emotion of reggae music, as well as the positive message," Walpole says.
Fortunate Youth have spent nearly as much time on the road as off in the years since they formed. They are currently on a 49-venue headlining tour that began Thursday, March 6, slips into Fullerton's Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen on Monday and ends at the Observatory in Santa Ana on May 10. Dubbed "It's All a Jam," this is the band's fourth headlining expedition, which doesn't include tours in support of acts such as the Expendables and Tribal Seeds or shows with Pepper, the Wailers, and Toots & the Maytals. They're also collaborating with a band called Los Rakas, a hip-hop group from the Bay Area.
Traveling the country to preach the good word of reggae is a positive experience, according to Walpole, even in unexpected places. "It's nice when you're in a state like Alabama, or somewhere you've only heard about, and you meet the greatest, nicest people ever," he says. "You're just stoked."
Fortunate Youth perform with True Press on the outdoor stage at Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen, 122 E. Commonwealth, Fullerton, (714) 871-2233; www.slidebarfullerton.com. Mon., 5 p.m. Free. All ages.