Winter Jams

Dec 4 • ARTSY SMARTSY, MusicNo Comments on Winter Jams

REGGAE SUN: South Carolina-based reggae act Sun-Dried Vibes will perform in Wilmington with Treehouse and more this week. Courtesy photo

For months it seemed that summer never left Wilmington, with temperatures in the 70s even a couple weeks ago, but now winter advances, bringing frost and temperatures beach people just can’t handle. For students in the area, that also means impending stress as exam time inches closer. What everyone needs is a distraction—something that will remind them of moments not long past with the sand in their toes and the serenity of summertime. Reggae music has a certain way of getting one to their happy place, so it’s a fitting cure for winter blues this month. Sun-Dried Vibes is the perfect solution to snap one out of the doldrums brought on by this cold snap.

Jamming out of Rock Hill, South Carolina, the trio (Zach Fowler, Evan Tyler and Alex Winchester) has been spreading mellow, earthy grooves since the summer of 2010. Sun-Dried Vibes’ music is heavily influenced by reggae; it has a pop-rock feeling woven in that gives it an easy-going but bright sound. Much like Maryland rockers, Ballyhoo!, Sun-Dried Vibes offers songs with romantic lyrical bases that, combined with a poppy vocal style, has the potential to reach both mainstream and alternative listeners.

“What sets Sun-Dried Vibes apart is [the] unique and organic [vocals] and an impeccable rhythm section with amazing energy in Alex Winchester and Evan Tyler,” remarks Zach Fowler. His voice has a smooth, warm quality, and he instantly hooks listeners with his catchy melodies.

Their first album, “Give Thanks,” was released in 2011, greeted enthusiastically by both fans across the Southeast and other artists. “We have only been together for two years, so most of our fan-base is in the Southeast because we have been touring here,” he explains. “However, we do have fans all over the country thanks to media outlets on the west coast that have featured us in blogs, podcasts, etc. We have lots of fans in California, Texas, the Northeast, and even in Europe and Australia.”

The name Sun-Dried Vibes came from the minds of Fowler and Winchester (drums) while they were on their first national tour playing acoustic shows before the current lineup formed. Fowler had the notion to call it “sun-dried” something—and “vibes” just stuck.

Since the release of “Give Thanks,” the band has had the opportunity to open for acts which Fowler noted were, “Lots of good bands out there that we have love for.” Among these are 311, Ballyhoo!, Slightly Stoopid and the Dirty Heads. They’ve also opened for the widely-known alternative band Neon Trees and rappers The Nappy Roots. Considering that Sun-Dried Vibes is still a fairly new band, they have done quite a bit of touring over these past two years.

“Give Thanks” is as optimistic and positive as the title alludes. While there are a few songs about girls who did them wrong, the majority of the record is nothing but sweet, soulful vibes. The slow and easy South-Carolina pace of living is evident in their sound, making it perfect music to unwind to. Like most reggae, the bass guitar is the driving force in this band’s music. Having just three members, Sun-Dried Vibes primarily uses just a guitar, bass and drum kit to jam. This basic set-up creates a clean, organic sound. However, a few tracks mix it up by adding in extra vocals and other instruments.

“Hawaii” is a beachy, tropical tune backed up by steel drums and bass solos that nod to some of Pepper’s more mellow songs. In the middle of the record, “East Coast Rhythm” shows off Sun-Dried Vibes’ poetic side with an acoustic track joined by some female vocals and sparse, simple drumming in the background. Their song, “Next Year” was featured on “College Radio Day: Album 2012” along with Umphrey’s McGee, The Maine, Delta Spirit, The Civil Wars and Blues Traveler. Proceeds from the annual compilation benefit a non-profit fund supporting the growth of college radio stations in both the United States and at international schools.

Next spring, Sun-Dried Vibes is dropping their second full-length record. The goal is for a March release following recording at Ocean Industries Studios on James Island, South Carolina (near Charleston). The owner of Ocean Industries is Eric Bass, who is the bassist for the popular rock band Shinedown. Other notable acts that have recorded there include Jay Clifford, Madam Adam, The Fire Apes, Gaslight Street and Under the Flood. A lot of details are still in the works but the working title for the album is “Back2Square1.” Production for the record is set to begin sometime in January.

“We have lots of great new material and we are pleased at the direction of our song writing,” Fowler mentions. Sun-Dried Vibes have big goals for next year and some other projects pending in addition to the spring album. There is the possibility of recording an acoustic and dub album at a studio in Austin, Texas some time after their second record is released. The band is also hoping to play some prestigious music festivals this year, including South by Southwest and Cali Roots. With those plans comes the potential for a national tour in the next year.

Sun-Dried Vibes will be hitting the Soapbox on Wednesday, December 5th. This show is part of the Pre-Exam Jam Tour, which is packed with several reggae bands to soothe study-worn brains. Joining them will be Southport band Redemption, which grooves with a rap-infused, bass-heavy sound. TreeHouse, hailing from Myrtle Beach, is Sun-Dried Vibes’ “brother band” according to Fowler. Also on the tour are Of Good Nature from Charlotte and Jay D Clark from Philadelphia. Everything about this show is perfect for stressed out college kids—especially the ticket price. A college ID will get you into the show for just five bucks. If you get your ticket ahead of time it’s also $5, but on the day of the show it will still be just $7 (but plan for a $3 surcharge for those under 21). Tickets are available at the door on the day of the show or at

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