Passafire W/ Dubbest

Ages 18 and up
Wednesday, February 02
Door: 7pm
$22

Animas City Theatre Presents
Passafire with Dubbest
Proof of vaccination (Physical card or picture of card on phone is accepted) or a negative PCR test with 72 hour time stamp needed to enter venue

Passafire’s latest single, Keepin’ On,  serves as a mission statement for the veteran rock-reggae outfit as they continue to forge ahead through their second decade of reimagining the boundaries of the current rock-reggae landscape.

Unflinchingly optimistic, Keepin’ On shows off what Passafire does best: expertly blending the macro/political and the micro/personal. The rock-steady anthem weaves together Passafire’s take on global warming, economic uncertainty, and technology’s threat to personal privacy with the band’s dedication to survival, intent on thriving by any means necessary.

“We are very grateful to be where we’re at with awesome fans that sustain and support us,” said Passafire’s bassist Will Kubley. “But every band wants to get to the next level” quickly pointed out lead guitarist/lead singer Ted Bowne. “We keep reaching new milestones and having new meaningful events, but we still have many ambitions we want to achieve. So we’ve got to keep going until we do.”

Passafire is set to embark on their Keepin’ On Tour in spring of 2020, and will play both coasts and the Midwest, as well as several festival dates.

Since forming in 2003, Passafire has released a total of six studio albums and boasts credits like producing with Paul Leary (Sublime, Pepper, U2, Slightly Stoopid), #1 albums on both the Billboard  and iTunes Reggae charts, and sharing stages with rock-reggae OGs 311 and Pepper, and legends Toots & the Maytals, the Wailers, and John Brown’s Body, who in the band’s early years, inspired them to explore reggae with a gritty edge. 

“We like to mix tight, clean reggae grooves with distorted guitar riffs” insisted Ted, “We’re ‘90s kids,” added Will, “we love rock, hip-hop and metal equally. It was always natural for us to straddle the line between genres.”

Passafire’s name is a take-off on The Wailers’ classic Catch a Fire album and the band’s hypervigilance towards honoring the culture without appropriating it combined with their unwavering dedication to the expansion of their skills as musicians, producers and songwriters, has led the band to create a sound that stands out from their peers.

“It’s all in our minds / Planted over time / Grew into a vine / That became intertwined” – from “All In Our Minds”On Passafire’s sixth studio release, Longshot, the Savannah, GA based rock outfit gives a testimony to following dreams, inspired by people, places, and experiences Passafire has shared since forming as a band. The group’s four members continue chasing their passion despite being told many times that “Making it as a musician is a long-shot,” a piece of advice that inspired this album and its title. Longshot takes its listeners through a full spectrum of emotions, telling stories of heartbreak, new beginnings, overcoming personal struggles, finding truths, discovering new places, and getting older, all weaved into Passafire’s genre-defying mix of reggae, hard rock, hip hop, and anything else that turns the group on musically. Passafire was formed in Savannah, GA, in 2003 by Ted Bowne and Nick Kubley, and have built a strong reputation within the U.S. reggae scene through relentless touring with fellow band members Mike DeGuzman and Will Kubley. Bowne doesn’t mind the grueling schedule and adds, “Touring is the best way to keep the buzz about the band going. What keeps it fun and exciting is the people we meet and places we get to see. We are in a new city every day so there’s always something to go see or do.” They continue to be a larger part of the U.S. reggae scene, even though musically they are often far apart from many of their peers in the genre, with a growing emphasis on alternative and progressive rock elements within their songs.
Since 2009, Dubbest has been forging its own path through the heavily forested reggae landscape, expertly infusing roots traditionalism with a refreshing improvisational savvy that calls to mind not only the studio experimentation of pioneering dub producers Osbourne “King Tubby” Ruddock and Lee “Scratch” Perry but also the real-time exploration of jam bands like the Grateful Dead and Phish. As friends in high school, guitarist Andrew MacKenzie, singer/melodica player Ryan Thaxter , bassist Sean Craffey, guitarist Cory Mahoney, and drummer Kyle Hancock shared a love of pop-punk and ska, bonding over bands like Black Flag, until they caught wind of Augustus Pablo’s 1974 dub classic Ital Dub. This was the gamechanger that set the stage for their current musical approach: using introspective, spacious bass and drum grooves to anchor a thickly-textured interplay of instruments, vocals, and timbres. With their third album, Light Flashes, Dubbest is poised for national recognition. Polished to perfection over a three-year period, Light Flashes invokes the spark of inspiration the band felt working with veteran producer Craig “Dubfader” Welsch of 10 Ft. Ganja Plant over at Rear Window Studios in Brookline, MA. As Andrew MacKenzie notes, “It is a powerful name to us, and it tends to catch one’s attention, like an actual flashing light. It’s a great fit for this album. The name and the artwork together help bring out the album’s edge.” They credit Welsch with taking their music to a higher level of musicianship and authenticity, noting how he draws out the best from each band member and employs a large stock of vintage instruments, such as a Hammond B3 organ and 1950s Fender Stratocasters, to convincingly evoke the 1970s glory days of roots reggae and dub. Kevin Metcalfe’s mastering work cemented this old-school sound: he has provided the finishing touch on albums by U.K.’s pop, rock, and reggae luminaries since the 1960s. On the musician front, the band was aided by stalwarts of the Boston scene, including Elliot Martin of John Brown’s Body on backing vocals and 10 Ft. Ganja Plant’s Mark Berney, Jared Sims, and Brian Thomas on horns and Steve D on synthesizer. The album maintains a fresh and fascinating feel with its contrasting blend of catchy uptempo crowdpleasers and dub instrumentals that manage to stay sunny. Thanks to the professionalism of its recording and arrangements, it stands out as a worthy successor to the greats of yesteryear who guide the band’s aesthetic: Toots and The Maytals, Augustus Pablo, and Gregory Isaacs, to name a few. Crowd favorite “One Thing” closes their shows, but starts the album on the right foot, establishing its dub vibration. The next two tracks, “Spend The Day” and “Weeping Heart,” create a radio-friendly one-two punch through energetic grooves, soulful melodies, and lyrics meant for singing into a lady love’s ear. Another love song, “End Of The Road,” is probably the album’s oldest track and one of many to feature a three-part horn section imported from ska, here as an expression of heightened emotion. On the track, “Give In,” the horns join the bass line to deliver raw power meant to be cranked at high volume. Keyboards take center stage on the space jam “Leaving,” the instrumental “Escape Route,” and the live-show staple “Cross Pollination.” Light Flashes closes with “Leave In Dub,” a track that proves why Welsch’s nickname is “Dubfader”; it also provides the perfect coda to the final song, “By Design,” driven by Elliott Martin’s stellar harmony vocals. Dubbest has just launched an album release tour that will introduce them to the West Coast territory that put North American reggae on the map, home to heavy-hitters like Groundation, Slightly Stoopid, and Rebelution. Live shows give the band a chance to stretch their legs and revel in spontaneity. They like to expand the dub sections of songs to showcase each performer and surprise the crowd with obscure roots reggae tracks. As MacKenzie puts it, “It’s always an exciting show because you never know what we’ll play.” The combination of this in-the-moment energy with Light Flashes’s studio wizardry and songwriting prowess causes a combustion that propels the band’s musical journey toward timelessness.