Groundation sticks to basics

By Cecelia Campbell-Livingston Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

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THE lead singer for American reggae band Groundation credits sticking to the basics for its rising stocks.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, Harrison 'Professor' Stafford said his band strives to make quality music by sticking to traditional analogue recording.

"No digital, we don't work with synthesisers. Just like in the 1970s we stick to that format," he said.

Stafford notes that Groundation actually tours with B3 organ, similar to the one Studio One arranger/producer Jackie Mittoo used in the 1960s.

Groundation is one of several American bands who have built a loyal fan base by constant touring, much like the roots-reggae bands of the 1970s.

A recent story published in the Jamaica Observer highlighted the trend of American reggae acts outselling their Jamaican counterparts, according to the latest figures from sales tracker, Nielsen SoundScan.

Stafford who has lectured about the history of reggae music since 1999 at Sonama State University in California, says Jamaica has all the ingredients to remain the music's dominant force.

However, he observed that the work of reggae's elders is un-noticed and the youth are not learning from them.

"That's why young people will continue to struggle. Don't be fooled by the pop game — Bob Marley never took a photo sitting on top of a Rolls Royce or showing off his bling," Stafford said.

"Society pushes negatives, if they pump money into reggae like they do the negative stuff, it would sell the same," he continued.

Stafford was in Jamaica promoting Groundation's seventh album, Building An Ark.

While their albums are well-received, the band's strength is touring. Groundation has played to thousands of fans all over the world —- headlining festivals in Morocco to Germany and Australia.

Groundation's roots are in the jazz programme at Sonoma State University. Formed in 1998, its original members were Stafford (guitar/lead vocals), Ryan Newman (bass) and Marcus Urani (B3 organ/keyboards/piano).

It was at university that the core of the group honed their musicianship. They were joined in 2000 by Jazz trumpeter David Chachere and Kelsey Howard on trombone.

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