Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tribal Seeds at the Gramercy Theatre

Steven Jacobo
Based in San Diego, California, Tribal Seeds is a reggae band headed by two brothers, both of whom played instruments since early childhood. The lead singer and rhythm guitarist Steven Jacobo writes the lyrics for the group, and his brother, keyboardist Tony-Ray Jacobo, writes all their music along with the other band members. The other band members are Tony Navarro, guitarist; Vitor Navarro, bass; Carlos Verdugo, drummer; and Jose Rodriguez, keyboards and percussion. The latest EP, Soundwaves, was released in 2011 and peaked at #2 on the Billboard Reggae Charts.

It seems odd that the two American reggae artists making the biggest splash these days derive from less than anticipated ethnic sources. Matisyahu is an orthodox Jewish man from Brooklyn, and Tribal Seeds are largely Latino-Americans from the west coast. Nevertheless, both artists have studied Jamaican reggae music well and have mastered it. At the Gramercy Theatre tonight, Tribal Seeds sounded thoroughly rooted in Bob Marley, Steel Pulse and other Jamaican acts. Many of the lyrics were spiritually driven, and all were infused with a roots style of reggae music rather than the more commercial and polished pop reggae that makes its way to Caribbean radio programs. The dreadlocked California band’s authentic sound was mild, mellow and honest. Jams, often including electronic sound effects, extended many songs, making them more groove music than lyrical compositions, and the stand-up audience responded by swaying to the rhythms. The lack of a horn section perhaps forfeited some punch to the songs, but nevertheless allowed the smooth chill to pervade. Judging by the frequently recurring scent of marijuana in the air, the fans were more than willing to chill with the band’s music.

Visit Tribal Seeds at