NATTY NATION

NATTY NATION

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About

NATTY NATION

Critically-acclaimed hard roots rock reggae outfit Natty Nation is a collective of spiritual warriors.

For over twenty years, the Madison, Wisconsin-based group has purely and fearlessly followed its inner artistic continuum. Along the way, Natty Nation has burst through genres while retaining a distinct roots reggae core.

Through it all—whether it’s onstage conducting its shamanistic live show, or in the studio pushing the scope of its musicality while honing its sharp songcraft—Natty Nation has remained dedicated to one mission: spreading light. On March 11th, 2016 Natty Nation issued its brightest beacon yet, Divine Spark (iNatty Records).

“Our ultimate goal is to uplift as many people as possible through sound and vibration,” says frontman JAH Boogie – bass, lead vocals (also percussion/drums in the studio). “To do that we hope to take our music to as many places on this earth and positively influence as many souls as we possibly can.”

Natty Nation’s unique pedigree of a Midwest home base and artistic openness has helped the posse foster a signature sound. The group describes themselves as hard roots rock reggae because in addition to their honest and authentic roots reggae foundation, their embrace of soul, rock, and funk is undeniable. Natty Nation is also influenced by such diverse geniuses as Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, Living Colour, Earth Wind and Fire, Fishbone, and Bad Brains. Since 1995, Natty Nation has had fluid membership of esteemed and visionary musicians. Currently, Natty Nation is led by JAH Boogie – bass / lead vocals (also percussion and drums in the studio), musical director Aaron Konkol – keyboards, vocals, and melodica, Chris Di Bernardo — drums, Nick Czar — guitar, and finally Captain Smooth — live dub engineer.

The band’s name remains a conceptual and aesthetic touchstone for the group, elucidating its wildly diverse cultural and aesthetic journeys. JAH Boogie explains: “The band got its name from a past member who coined it Natty Nation, dealing with Rastafarian culture and tradition. Natty can be locks of hair (short for natural), unity, or well dressed, and nation denoting nationality. The idea is that the barriers of nations are not natural, so the earth is the one natty nation, and we are all earth citizens. We are all one. The only thing that separates us is the ego and it’s physical manifestations.”

Since its inception Natty Nation has issued five uncompromising studio albums along with a string of epiphanic live albums. The tastemaking Madison alt-weekly, Isthmus Magazine, named their 1998 release Earth Citizen one of the “top 25 Madison pop albums of all time,” writing that “Natty Nation’s mix of hard roots rock and reggae proved unique and gained a following that remains today.” The group has received a Wisconsin Area Music Industry award for best world artist, and to date Natty Nation has earned 31 Madison Area Music Association awards, including artist of the year, ensemble vocals, world album, and for nine years running world performer of the year.

One of the most profound components of Natty Nation’s artistry is its live show. In this context, the band truly thrives, and all the years as a unit, the collective’s telepathic band interplay and colorful palette of music influences make for a fresh freewheeling reggae focused experience. “We treat our recorded music as a calling card for people to come check us out live,” JAH Boogie says. “The crowd plays a huge part in where our show goes. Which songs we do, the vibe, how long we play, and most significantly how we play.” Natty Nation has built a robust artistic profile through tirelessly touring, nationally and internationally. Select live career highlights include performing at SXSW, Summerfest, Freakfest, and as well as throughout the Middle East, Africa, Japan, and the Marshall Islands.

Divine Spark is a lightning bolt of an inspirational album artistically and introspectively. JAH Boogie explains: “The Divine Spark is the higher self within everyone. I’ve learned that through raising your vibration and opening your chakras you are able to tap into your divine spark. Our music is for the mental, spiritual, and physical expansion of the human family. We are spiritual individuals who express our spirituality through the frequencies and tones of the music that we play.”

Artistically it’s a watershed album as its was carefully crafted by the creative core of founding member JAH Boogie, and longtime member Aaron Konkol, who is a multi-instrumentalist and prodigious musical talent. The two shared in music writing responsibilities while JAH Boogie retained lyric duties. Divine Spark also boasts a verse from acclaimed South Side, Chicago-via-Madison rapper F. Stokes on the track “Civil Rights” and the entire album was mixed by legendary Bob Marley recording engineer Errol Brown, other than the two dubs that close out the album which were produced by the band.

Highlights on Divine Spark include the title track, “Meditation,” “Civil Rights,” and “Prophecy.” The album’s spiritual core is the simmering and soulful title track. “This song deals with the spiritual essence of each human being,” JAH Boogie explains. “The song also expresses that when you open your heart chakra it helps to open up the many other chakras within the spiritual body. When these energy centers or chakras are open then many other dimensions are open as well.” “Meditation” aptly conjures its name with sweetly languid grooves. Soul rebel militancy bubbles over with the aptly titled, “Civil Rights” courtesy of F. Stokes’s fiery rhymes. And the rousing “Prophecy” is sure to inspire self-reflection. “This song deals with going within yourself to find out who you really are or what you really are. We all have spiritual guides or angels who reveal certain things to us,” explains JAH Boogie.

A fortuitous encounter at a Rebelution show enabled a once in a lifetime opportunity. Aaron Konkol, after marveling over Rebelution’s sparkling live sound, ran into the group and asked who was manning the boards for their live show. To his astonishment it was Errol Brown (Bob Marley, Gregory Isaacs, Burning Spear, among others). At the time, Natty Nation had been chasing the optimum mix for years. Errol agreed to mix the album in his makeshift studio he built in the back of Rebelution’s tour bus. He worked closely with Aaron’s feedback and the two came up with a majestic mix.

Divine Spark marks the beginning of an era of fevered creativity and watershed output for Natty Nation. Thinking back on the group’s perseverance, JAH Boogie says: “We believe in creating positive energy in the universe, and when we can see the people dancing, smiling, and nodding their head to our music, and then coming up after the shows or reaching out to us to tell us how our music touched them profoundly, or even just was a great soundtrack to a fun night, it really means the world to us and keeps us on this path to make music.”

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Past Mousetrap Concerts:

Aaron Kamm and the One Drops

Aaron Kamm and the One Drops

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https://akt1d.bandcamp.com/album/feed-the-meter
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About

Aaron Kamm and the One Drops

Hailing from St. Louis, MO, Aaron Kamm and the One Drops merge flavors of Roots Reggae, Mississippi River Blues, Improv-laced Jams, and Soulful Vocals. With their high-energy performance and unique sound, Aaron Kamm and the One Drops are a must see.

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Past Mousetrap Concerts:

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad w/ Shrub – Friday, April 17th

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad w/ Shrub - Friday, April 17th

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad

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About

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad (GPGDS) is known for folding the aesthetics of the jamband scene into the structures of reggae. In the live setting, the band performs extended jams, while their previous studio albums have blended roots reggae with psychedelia (In These Times, 2012) or diverged from the genre completely, journeying into straight Americana (Country, 2012). On STEADY, the band’s fourth studio album (and first on Easy Star Records), GPGDS has synthesized their approach by weaving traditional folk instrumentation into a foundation of reggae, with arrangements that let the reggae breathe in a non-traditional way. While STEADY may not be the first record to find inspiration in both old time Appalachia and ‘70s Jamaica, it may be the best.

Much of STEADY’s power comes from the attention put into the recording process. Craig Welsch (one of the key players in 10 Ft. Ganja Plant) invited the band to his Boston studio, with the intention of “capturing an aspect of Panda that no one had ever heard yet, something totally different.” This rings true on tracks like “Wolf At The Door” and “.45.” Bassist-singer James Searl jokes that the band “has always followed John Brown’s Body (JBB) into studios,” as each studio they’ve recorded in was previously used by the legendary Ithaca, New York-based band. This trend continues unabated here, as Welsch was formerly JBB’s dub engineer and producer on some of their finest sessions, while another song on STEADY – the herb-smoking gem “Mr. Cop” – was produced by Matt Saccuccimorano, who helmed the controls on the last JBB release. The only other track on the record not coming from Welsch – the title track – was co-produced by Danny Kalb, who has worked with The Green, Ben Harper, and Jack Johnson.

Giant Panda formed in 2001 in Rochester, New York. A mysteriously fertile area for developing the U.S. reggae scene, the city has ties going back to 1981 when Lee “Scratch” Perry recruited his entire backing band from Rochester. The Upstate NY region became early supporters of GPGDS, while its members were in high school and beginning college, playing weekly gigs to cut their teeth. In these formative years, Giant Panda began to explore their songs with an experimental approach that is stylistically akin to the Grateful Dead, while keeping their roots firmly planted in reggae rhythms and lyrical content. Around 2005 tapers began to notice and soon after one of the band’s first Colorado shows received homepage placement on the popular taper website Archive.org. Almost overnight GPGDS became a mainstay on the jamband festival circuit.

From 2005 – 2013 GPGDS’s three original members (drummer Chris O’Brian, guitarist-singer Dylan Savage, and bassist-singer James Searl) began a touring schedule averaging over 100 shows a year and performing throughout the U.S., Canada, and Jamaica. Their third lead singer, multi-instrumentalist Dan Keller, joined the group a few years back, while keyboardist Tony Gallicchio joined in 2013. (Most of the sessions for STEADY feature ex-keys man Aaron Lipp, though Gallicchio can be heard on two of the tracks.) Giant Panda’s continuous time on the road hardened the players into monster instrumentalists. Their attention to the studio in later years, along with a unique blending of reggae and rural American music solidified GPGDS as one of the region’s most beloved bands. Like their hometown, they manage to unify an intellectual and creative culture with a hard-working blue-collar past.

The three main songwriters’ material is different enough to create a flowing and diverse listening experience. Savage’s inspiring anthems tend to be the most “classically” reggae, with songs like “Not The Fool,” “Whatever Cost,” and “Solution” echoing influences like Culture (circa 1979), early Burning Spear, and Jimmy Cliff. Searl is more experimental, both in form (“Wolf At The Door” could almost be an Elvis Costello song, while “.45” utilizes African and blues influences) and in lyrics: his “Hurt Up Your Brother” is almost Dadaist, taking a few lines and constantly rearranging them to achieve new meanings, imbued with a nonsensical-yet-expressive feel, while one of the most dubbed-out riddims on the record chugs along underneath. Keller’s songs stand illusively in between, and manage to go both directions, with a hardcore reggae groove on “Move” giving way to an unexpected chorus, or with the catchy “Home” being one of the only reggae songs in history to use a banjo so creatively and fittingly.

Giant Panda is one of a growing number of bands that work with both Rootfire (their management) and Easy Star Records. STEADY marks the seventeenth release Rootfire and Easy Star have paired up for, making them one of the most storied and successful partnerships in the modern reggae scene. Release number eighteen is just a few months away…. GPGDS has cut a full Americana album as a sequel to 2012’s Country, which will also come out on Easy Star in early 2015. For now though, sit back and enjoy STEADY – a masterpiece that solidifies Giant Panda’s standing as a groundbreaker in the roots reggae scene.

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Shrub

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About

Shrub

Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, the seven piece “Reggae / Rap / Rock” fusion, Shrub, has been rapidly gaining momentum and building a solid national fan base since being voted by readers as High Times Magazine’s Unsigned Band of the Month in September of 2010.

Recently, Shrub released their first full length album, Highceratops, which debuted in the Top 10 on the iTunes Reggae Charts. The album features guest appearances by C-Money from Slightly Stoopid, Dubmatix, and Kimberly Freeman from One-Eyed Doll. The band garners comparisons to artists like Sublime, The Dirty Heads, Atmosphere, Gym Class Heroes, and G. Love, but Shrub maintains an innately unique and raw sound all their own. With the addition of new guitar player, Kevin Oliver, former member of the hugely popular band, Parliament/Funkadelic (George Clinton), Shrub’s sound has now quickly become full-grown.

Shrub has shared the stage with: The Dirty Heads, Collie Buddz, Rebelution, Yellowman, The Expendables, Kottonmouth Kings, Gov’t Mule, Hed PE, Badfish, Scotty Don’t, Marlon Asher, Yonder Mountain String Band, Ballyhoo!, ekoostik hookah, Zach Deputy, Don Carlos, Mighty Diamonds, Tribal Seeds, The Young Dubliners, Passafire, Seedless, Micah Brown, The Revivalists, Fortunate Youth, Big B, Spiritual Rez, Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds, Echo Movement, Best Coast, Dinosaur Jr, The Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, Tennis, and many more.

“The Midwest has long been a hotbed for successful rap artists, but Shrub’s eclectic fusion of rap, reggae, and rock brings a whole new flavor to the scene.” – High Times Magazine

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