As Greenfield Lake Amphitheater begins their 2014 season, a monumental event in music and charity gets underway with Epic Day at GLA. The music and beer festival will benefit Step Up For Soldiers, a local nonprofit that aids wounded soldiers. The day will showcase R.A. Jefferys’ best flavors with 16 microbreweries and 32 brews in total for unlimited sampling (four different wines will also be available for tasting). In addition, The Dirty Heads, Fear Nuttin’ Band and Signal Fire will demonstrate their own brand of spirits. Each band boasts exclusive subsets of reggae, rock and hip-hop.
The Dirty Heads (TDH) is a gang of misunderstood punks. Representing Huntington Beach, CA, they come off as a bit impetuous at times, but their defiance doesn’t come without authenticity.
Jared “Dirty J” Watson (vocals) founded the band with Dustin “Duddy B” Bushnel (vocals) in 1996 at a high-school party. Their name stems from their older siblings and family referring to them as “dirty heads” in childhood. After finding success, they added Jon Olazabel (percussion), Matt Ochoa (drums), and David Foral (bass) to help define TDH’s vigorous nature. “We were like, Hey, you know, we’re selling out venues and the people like us,” Duddy says, “so, let’s make a living out of this.”
TDH has adapted to the scene by pushing the envelope. They took off after the release of their debut album, “Any Port In A Storm.” In 2008 the band owned the charts with “Lay Me Down” featuring Rome, who tours with the surviving members of Sublime. TDH shot from the Top 100 on Billboard straight to no. 1 and lived there for two weeks. While they scatter electric and acoustic riffs with sunshine and beguiling hooks, they can come back and slap listeners right in the face with their quick-whipped, angst-filled hip-hop tracks like “Hip-Hop Misfits.” Alternately, they can even sing folks to sleep with softer ballads like “Believe.”
“Cabin By The Sea,” their second release, made waves in the underground scene. The hit single, “Spread Too Thin,” breaks into an acoustic riff with escalating and heartfelt lyrics to showcase a different side to the band. On July 8th, with the release of “Sounds of Change,” they’ll be working even more genres into their sound.
“The name [“Sounds of Change”] fits,” Duddy says. “There are going to be some surprises. The fact that we don’t have a genre lets us do whatever we want.”
TDH, who cite The Beastie Boys as an influence revel in the festival scene. The magnetic energy and free-for-all vitality lays the groundwork for the perfect schooling. “Festivals are awesome because we can learn so much and watch the bands,” Duddy confirms. “It’s dope to hear new music. Plus, the fans on the East Coast tend to get a little more wild.”
At Epic Day, TDH will reunite with Fear Nuttin’ Band. The bands hadn’t played together in over eight years.
Fear Nuttin’ Band (FNB) puts their own spin on the reggae scene with what they call “yardcore.” Also the title of their second album, the genre culminates in an eruption of metal, hardcore, and rock guitar licks that build and burst into reggae and hip-hop-infused verses. FNB’s choruses yearn to be blasted at backyard parties and sung as loud as possible among fans. Released in 2003, the record established the group. “[“Yardcore”] really helped to put us on the map,” Jay Chung (vocals/guitar) says.
The band members blend from two polar opposites. Three come straight from the heat of Jamaica, and the other three come from the cool northeast breeze of New England. FNB consists of Roosta (vox), Prowla (vocals) Christafari “BoomBlaze” Regan (guitar), Jay Chung (vocals/guitar), Felix Fantasia (bass) and Mike Fuchs (drums); Matt Penza and Brian Daigle from Zion both left amicably. With four records and one EP, FNB imbues the reggae movement with a heavier vibe. Songs like “Rebel,” off of 2011’s “Move Positive” is one of Regan’s favorites to play live. It ignites the crowd, in any venue—large or small. Co-written and produced by Jacob Hemphill (SOJA), the track sends out a clear message to fans. “Think for yourself,” Regan says. “It’s OK to go against the grain and become a rebel.”
They’ve proven themselves a touring band, too, and draw on their cultural diversity to draw in folks from all lifestyles. Festivals bring out the best of the band. “We feel at home in that environment,” Chung says. They also use these vast shows to spread their message even further—and the beer just might help too. “We’re an IPA-loving band,” Regan confirms. “But we love to try local brews on tour that we can’t at home.”
Hometown reggae heroes Signal Fire will light up the Epic stage. The reggae/rock quartet started a year and a half ago after Sean Gregory (vocals/guitar) and Ken Forrest (drums) came to Wilmington in the midst of a previous band breakup. They linked up with Rob Evans (guitar) and Cullen Seward (bass), and since have have added Nick Loeber (keys). SF has become road warriors, hauling ass, and playing over 75-plus shows in the past year, dispersing their love nationwide. In this, they’ve taken in much from the veterans of the genre, such as The Wailers, Fortunate Youth and SOJA. “We’ve watched and learned a lot from these groups,” Gregory explains. “Their live shows are seamless, which is something we’ve been working on.”
SF has been touring in support of their debut record, “Ignite,” released last Septembe. It peaked at no. 8 on the iTunes reggae charts in 2013, and displays impeccable musicianship. It also fans the flame of coastal reggae with pure and thought-provoking lyrics. “Ignite” salutes the harmony between its members, and was recorded after the band had played together for only five months before going into the studio.“We wanted to create positive, original music with a good message,” Gregory says, “and I think we did.”
“Righteous Ones” affirms the case. The classic reggae-steady introduction breaks like a wave into a climbing guitar solo before crashing into a calming synth-backed beat. Its beseeches kids to change the world.
“It’s one of my favorites on the album,” Gregory says. “Things aren’t always what they seem, and we need our youth to question things and figure out other ways to move forward as a society. The direction we are headed could lead to our downfall, but we can fix it.”
The first song written for SF, “Another Day,” is danceable yet doused with a lyrical message. “It’s a call-out for people I love in my life,” Gregory says, with a nod to his friends, family and even Pipeline for always booking such kick-ass shows. “Be thankful for your loved ones and the life you’ve been given. Don’t take any of it for granted.”
Epic Day at GLA
Greenfield Lake Amphitheater
Sat., April 19th, 4 p.m.
Under 21 can, after 7 p.m.