PLAINS — Internationally-recognized reggae artist and songwriter Kevin Kinsella has recorded over 15 albums as a founding member of The Tribulations, John Brown’s Body and 10 Foot Ganja Plant, as well as four full-length records as a solo artist. Considered a pioneer of U.S. reggae, Kinsella is touring the country promoting his 2014 release, “Riding Higher Still” and will make a stop in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Wilkes-Barre-based reggae project Roots Attack will open for Kinsella and The Analogue Sons at 9 p.m. Sept. 18 at the River Street Jazz Cafe. Roots Attack is a new project comprised of members of the regionally-celebrated reggae group Subnotics, feature Subnotics singer Robb Brown and elder statesman of local reggae George Wesley.
Pete Terpak, founding member and guitar player in Roots Attack and Subnotics, is responsible for bringing Kinsella to the Wyoming Valley.
Having been a fan of Kinsella’s for years, Terpak went out on a limb, identifying himself as a fan and fellow reggae artist, reaching out to Kinsella on Facebook to see what it would take to get him to River Street.
“He’s pulled in a lot of directions, but I was suprised to get an answer like, ‘Yeah, I’m interested in coming down,’” Terpak said.
Released in October, “Riding Higher Still” was recorded with the band Thunderbody from Rochester, New York, which Kinsella called phenomenal. “I approached them as a fan and a friend and asked if we could do some shows together, and at the end of the series of shows, I said, ‘Let’s go in the studio and record what we’ve done.’”
On this tour leg, Kinsella has been through California, Colorado, the Mid-Atlantic, the Northwest and the South. He was backed by regional bands who are friends in what he calls the reggae community. The Analogue Sons are friends of Kinsella’s from his hometown of Ithaca, New York.
“Reggae music is a family feeling,” Kinsella said. “It’s kind of like the blues in the sense that, if you played this music, especially back in the day, you knew where somebody was coming from, and you knew that you shared some deep love and respect for this culture and this music, and it’s a spiritual music.”
After a trip to California, Terpak noticed how musicians there were extremely supportive of each other and their artistic community. He returned with a new mindset about building the musical community in NEPA.
“I play with (Wesley) on occasion,” Terpak said. “We share players in bands. With this event, George will be involved, Robb Brown and the rest of the Subnotics guys, we wanted to bring something in, something that you wouldn’t experience normally in Wilkes-Barre. There’s a couple local guys that do put on great shows and do their best, and what I’m trying to do now is just bring everybody together.”
Brown, a mainstay behind the microphone with Subnotics who also works with his own project, Barefoot Brown, spoke about guest starring with Roots Attack and what it means to share a stage with Kinsella.
“(Roots Attack) is kind of Pete’s brainchild,” Brown said. “Subnotics focused many years on the authenticity of roots reggae, and we’re very good at it, and we all appreciate it and love it, and I think Roots Attack is a progression. It’s that little bit of explication of evolution.”
The band features members of Subnotics, Bryan Feist on drums, Carl Krupa on saxophone, Vince Saracino on keyboards and Lion Sanford on bass guitar.
Brown called Kinsella a mentor and someone he and his musical partners try to emulate in the creative process, although he and Kinsella have not yet met. Brown spoke of the brilliance of John Brown’s Body and Ganja Plant.
“Reggae music has such a space between the hierarchy of what people know in reggae, and then there’s this void that goes to a lot of smaller players that more of a select crowd knows and appreciates, and so in our eyes, it’s kind of like getting a chance to do a show with any of the Marleys or Slightly Stoopid,” Brown said.
Kinsella is excited about coming to the area.
“I’m psyched to get down there,” Kinsella said. “It’s going to be a beautiful night. I’m really excited to get back to Wilkes-Barre.”
Terpak and Brown both spoke about their excitement for sharing reggae music and Kinsella’s music with fans.
Brown said there is still a great fan base in the Wyoming Valley but a reduction in the amount of available venues has stifled listeners.
“If we all work together, we can bring the scene back to life,” Brown said.
Terpak explained exposure to reggae has changed him as a person. “It’s almost become a religion to me,” said Terpak, not knowing he was echoing the spiritual sentiment of his hero, Kinsella. “We really want to make people share that experience and give them a break from reality for a while. It’s akin to going to church on Sunday.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If you go:
What: Kevin Kinsella and The Analogue Sons with opening act Roots Attack, featuring Robb Brown and George Wesley.
When: Friday, September 18 at 9 p.m.
Where: River Street Jazz Cafe, 667 N. River St., Plains
Additional Information: There is a cover charge of $12 at the door. Doors open at 5 p.m. for those interested in dinner prior to the show.