Fire on the Mountain
Yah, mon, the mountain be rockin'.
Okay, so we'll leave the rasta-speak to the experts. But the High Country is in for a rare treat, as two separate events highlight the soul and sounds of reggae music. Think Hope Massive and Selah Dub.
It's a name you might have heard of. Boonie through and through, Hope Massive tracks first hit the scene in 2005. Three years later, its album was picked up by WNCW and labeled No. 2 out of the top 10 reggae albums for 2008. In 2009, however, the band seemed to drop off the map.
"This will be our first time in almost a year playing out live," Hope Massive's Justin Butler said.
The six-piece (Butler, Cullen West, Ben McPherron, Nik Hope, Richard Jones and Pete Brown) reggae outfit has been into other things, things like Boom One Sound System, or Hope's other outlet, the Josh Phillips Folk Festival.
But Saturday, in honor of Bob Marley's birthday, they'll be back at the Boone Saloon.
"It's a fun show," Butler said. "To tell you the truth, we have a great time together just as friends."
And a great tradition of celebrating Marley, who Butler calls a major influence.
"It was probably one of the main things," he said. "We all grew up listening to Bob Marley, and, really, that's what turned us on to world music and the world of reggae."
But it's not just about the music.
"Just the positive message of Bob Marley, I think, is more important to me personally," he said.
And it's a sound that meshes well in the High Country.
"I think there's such a similarity between bluegrass and reggae music," he said. "It's pretty noticeable when you know what to look for," comparing mandolin to reggae's guitar.
So why Hope Massive?
"I just came up with that," Butler said. "Massive is a collective reggae term that includes everyone."
And President Obama's campaign didn't hurt.
"His slogan was all about hope," he said. "So, I got a lot of free stickers out of that."
Hope Massive ( http://www.myspace.com/hopemassive) plays the Bob Marley Birthday Bash Saturday, Feb. 5, at the Boone Saloon (489 W. King St.).
Fifteen years strong, Selah Dubb got its start in the High Country. For the past two years, Mark Evangelist and Heather Purdin have called Wrightsville Beach home. Thursday, Feb. 10, the reggae fever hits Galileo's.
"We started out as college kids doing the music there throughout the '90s and then into the early 2000s," Evangelist said.
And now the outfit, which calls itself a roots reggae dance band, tours all over.
"When we moved to Boone in '93, there was no reggae anywhere for young, middle-class American college students," he said. "It was more the Jamaican bands coming around and playing the music, and we were all influenced by that."
Add in dance styles and modern flavors, and you have an island sound that's all about the heart. It's a testament, Evangelist said, to Bob Marley's influence.
"We had moved to Boone because we were trying to get back to nature," he said. "We wanted to learn a lot more about ourselves without the influences of what we call Babylon ... Rastaphilosophy ... We wanted to spread one love."
And, while reggae makes some think pina coladas and beach breezes, it's not "just a beach thing."
"It's a back to Earth thing," Evangelist said. "It's back to nature. The original Rastas were all about back to nature and the same kind of ideals that the hippie movement had ... in that we wanted to get away from Babylon and back to nature."
And he sees a few direct comparisons between his idol's upbringing and the High Country.
"Bob Marley lived in the mountains in a place called Nine Miles High, up in the hills, a place that was a lot like Boone," he said.
Selah Dubb ( http://www.selahdubb.com) plays Galileo's (1087 W. King St.) Thursday, Feb. 10, at 10 p.m.
The band is also playing Beech Mountain that weekend, but did not have a date at press time.