To shoot Rootz Underground in concert is always a treat, and one I usually get to enjoy in Jamaica. But when it’s in DC at the 9:30 Club, it’s even more fantastic (only because I got to be their photographer here too!). They performed for one hour, opening for another reggae band popular in DC and overseas – SOJA.
Besides their amazing talent and fresh roots reggae sound from Kingston, Rootz Underground is a group of down-to-earth, hard-working guys I met four years ago during my first sabbatical to Jamaica, fresh out of the cubi world. A couple of months into my time off, a friend asked me to photograph the annual fundraiser concert in Negril on behalf of his Soul Rebellion non-profit, which raises money for bricks to build schools in western Jamaica. Rootz traveled all the way from Kingston to perform as well as spend two days of touring the local schools and talking to the kids, generously volunteering their time to inspire and educate. I knew then that they were more than artists. It was then, too, that lead singer Stephen Newland and I realized that we had a mutual best friend in DC who had wanted us to connect during my time in Jamaica. Such a small world.
To capture Rootz Underground live is – like watching their show – a true musical and spiritual experience (seriously – at times you’d even wonder if this was what it was like to be at a Bob Marley concert). Above is Stephen introducing the DC audience to his signature jump – which caught everyone by surprise, except for yours truly.;-)
The band completely dazzled the crowd, as they usually do with anyone who hears them for the first time. In addition to the show, I snapped some pre-and-post concert shots in their dressing room – just as much fun and inspiring.
Oh, if you’re in New York City and love roots reggae, don’t miss their performance this coming Tuesday at B.B. King Blues Club. The DC show was sold out, but the NY one still has spots (you can thank me later). After that, they’re off to Europe. I only wish my lenses and I could tag along.
Full photo essay to come ASAP – I’m still recovering from a night that ended past 3 a.m!