Brandon Rootz is really about Rastafarian & reggae culture

by Nov 11, 2023News

Brandon Rootz is really about Rastafarian & reggae culture

With multiple trips to Jamaica since 2015, Brandon Rootz no longer considers himself a visitor to the country. The American singer/musician has immersed himself in Rastafarian and reggae culture, which can be heard in his latest projects.

‘Without The Greed’, his song with Luciano, was released on November 7. A live album recorded at Tuff Gong studios in Kingston with guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith and the Bingihistra acoustic group, is scheduled for release in December.

Brandon Rootz, who is from the Sonoma region in Northern California, says ‘Without The Greed’ will be on the studio version of that album. He co-produced the live edition with the prolific Smith, who was ranked 182 on Rolling Stone’s 250 Greatest Guitarists of All Time in October.

“It’s a Rasta vibration carrying the Nyahbingi heart of the beat with bass and kette drums mixed with my original style of songs, that brings a fresh sound of world music, global music, Caribbean, soul, jazz, R&B, blues, rock, and country,” he disclosed. “We have Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith who played and toured with Bob Marley And The Wailers, Sangie Davis who was a dear friend of Bob, and Reggae Max, the percussionist who tours with Beres Hammond.”

Keyboardist Robbie Lyn, another stalwart musician, also played on the Tuff Gong sessions.

Brandon Rootz has been a roll in the past two years in terms of recordings. In 2021, he cut ‘Without The Greed’ in Kingston with Luciano, backed by drummer Kirk Bennett and a horn section led by saxophonist Dean Fraser.

Two months ago saw the release of ‘You’re Like an Angel’, a digital collaboration with Gregory Isaacs featured on the album, ‘King Jammy Presents Gregory Isaacs — Rebirth of The Cool Ruler’.

Producer Lloyd “King Jammy” James has helped guide Brandon Rootz since his first year in Jamaica. The past eight years have seen him live in affluent areas of Jamaica’s capital, to gritty Waterhouse, home of the famed King Jammy studio.

Born Brandon Hess, he discovered reggae through the vibrant festival scene in Northern California. Even then, he admits when he first came to Jamaica, his knowledge of the island and its culture was limited.

His awareness of reggae and the inner-city life that shapes the music has grown considerably thanks to extended stays there. Being endorsed by elders like King Jammy James has made it worthwhile.

“I am truly honoured to be getting such amazing feedback from all the legendary musicians that are part of this album and also many that have heard it along the way,” said Brandon Rootz.

(Photos contributed)

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Brandon Rootz (centre with acoustic guitar) with Earl "Chinna" Smith (left with guitar) at the Tuff Gong studios in Kingston.

Brandon Rootz & Luciano – Without The Greed