Certain bands encapsulate the daylight; that is, what it feels like to be drenched in sunshine with heat tasting your skin—a sure-fire promise of enlightenment. Other groups can illustrate the nighttime. The after-hours when everything is uncertain, mysterious, and blanketed in tempting darkness. Fortunate Youth (FY) finds the balance. With jams that yearn to see daybreak and relaxed licks that provide release, FY casts an endless sunset across the horizon.
The South Bay reggae heroes formed in 2009 and took the scene by storm. They are currently in the running for a 2015 Grammy nomination, along with 50 other groups, for best reggae album. Consisting of Dan Kelly (vocals), Travis Walpole (percussion), Jered Drasko (keys), Greg Gelb (bass/guitar), Corey Drasko (guitar/bass), and Jordan Rosenthal (drums), the group formed five years ago. They were at a birthday party for Jared Segawa, the band’s current manager. Rightfully so, he brought them all together. The six musicians, divided by two bands, agreed to form a reggae-rock super group.
“We were thinking that we were so fortunate to have met each other and play music,” Kelly says of the band name. “But, in the bigger picture, FY aims to speak for everyone.”
FY believes music is something that lives on through generations and helps provide a youthful state of mind. Through three studio albums, FY has carved the innocent mind-set into stone. From “Up-Lifted” (2009), to “Irie State of Mind” (2011), and the most recent, “It’s All a Jam” (2013), they promote positivity and unrestricted love.
“With every album we only try to expand our sound to create something new and different,” Kelly states. “We would like to think that every album has only grown musically, as we all continue to grow and learn as people.”
Their evolution plays an enormous role in getting along and keeping the peace. Although a relatively young band, the members of FY have been in multiple groups. They realize that collaborative communication is imperative. With six talented people making up the band, they thrive on respect, honesty, and trust.
But their main mantra? “No matter how hard things get in life,” Kelly covets, “you have to always stay positive, work hard, and never give up.”
Like every band, FY experiences ups and downs, but they recognize what it takes to work together. They know how to revel in the highs. This sentiment is reflected in their repertoire.
Also, they don’t hide their warm regards for marijuana. Their albums consist of spreading the love and bud like wildfire, and sharing these life experiences with friends. “Farmer,” featuring Juan Rios, off “Irie State of Mind,” speaks of the medicinal agriculturalist—the sharecropper who serves as the marijuana doctor and prescribes it. The song’s from the viewpoint of the “patient.”
“Tell me, Mr. Farmer/you know just what to do/Now I don’t think you know/ all the things I’m running through,” Kelly sings.
The use of reverb and a played-out introduction helps captivate the listener. “Burn One” also focuses primarily on using the strong-smelling herb to relax: “You know that sensi relieves my mind,” Kelly adds.
But FY doesn’t just dwell on the stoner outlook, they constantly reflect on the natural high that exists between two souls. “Love is the Most High” suggests such a feeling which cannot be exceeded. It reflects on the past and addresses how one feels after losing their love. The sensual jam, “Sweet Love,” is a reminder to be grateful for the special people in one’s life. Although FY salutes Marley’s lyrics and the “irie” vibes, the influence of classic-rock groups also prevail through their musicality. “Sweet Love” begins with a solo derived from Jimmy Page, and a chorus almost straight from the lips of Robert Plant, a la Zeppelin’s “All of My Love.”
“We appreciate and transmit to some bands you wouldn’t expect,” Kelly reveals. “Van Morrison, The Beatles … Motown.”
In songs like “Positive,” off their newest record “It’s All a Jam,” these traditional rock’ n’ roll tendencies rear their heads. Adding to an expansive sound, the critically acclaimed album gives fans a heavy dose of reggae with a perfect mix of rock and synth.
FY sets out on their spring tour in support of “It’s All a Jam.” During their journey, they plan on releasing a new album. “Dub Creations: Vol. 1” will be available on iTunes on Sunday, April 20th; it’s currently available for pre-order.
Their continued cultivation of new jams takes them higher into notoriety. They’ve recently landed several big festivals, including Wakarusa, Reggae in the Hills, Reggae in the Desert, Salt Lake City Reggae Fest, UCLA Jazz and Reggae Festival, and Uplift Festival, to name a few.
“On top of that, we have a big headline tour that is happening in the early fall across the whole country, and we cannot wait to announce who we are bringing with us,” Kelly says.
Though the band’s sights are set high, they never turn their nose up to a more personal affair, such as the one afforded by Ziggy’s by the Sea. FY looks forward to their return to the Atlantic Coast, having had a blast at the East Coast Cali Roots Festival last year, held on the riverfront.
“We love Wilmington and have only heard the best things about this venue,” Kelly says. “Big shows are always fun, but the smaller venues just create an intimate vibe that bigger venues have a lot of trouble trying to re-create.”
True to form, FY might even hang loose and get some surfing in if the swells suffice. “We were so pleasantly surprised to find out that it was a great surf spot,” Kelly adds.
Ziggy’s by the Sea • 208 Market St.
Fri., April 4th
Doors: 8 p.m., Show: 9 p.m.