THE last 10 years have been great for American reggae, especially for bands on the West Coast. Not as well known are their counterparts from the Midwest, like Dred I Dread, who have carried the banner for 25 years.
On July 1, Dred I Dread released Mount Zion, the band's fourth studio album. Produced by Jamaican Saunjay Kerr, it hears them working with top musicians such as The Firehouse Crew, bassist Errol "Flabba Holt" Carter, and veteran keyboardist Tony "Asher" Brissett.
"On this project we wanted to go back to the roots of reggae. We originally planned to come to Jamaica and record with Jamaican musicians and producers, however due to COVID and travel restrictions we did demos and then sent tracks to Tony 'Asher' Brissett to add his own interpretation to the tracks," said Neville "Rawle G" Gopie. "Asher enlisted musicians such as Flabba Holt, Firehouse Crew and [drummer] Kirk Bennett to create riddim sections. The tracks were then sent back to us and vocal arrangements were done in Minnesota by Saunjay Kerr, who also arranged for backing vocals done by Fiona Forrest in Jamaica."
Mount Zion is released on Dred I Dread's Rapid Fire Records and is distributed by VPAL Music. It contains six songs, including the title and Lara, which have already been released.
Rawle G, who was born in Kingston, is one of three original members in Dred I Dread. The others are lead singer Peewee Dread and guitarist Serdar Guvenc; Paul Kammeyer, drummer Teddy Longbar, and keyboardist Alex Cole complete the line-up.
Formed in Minnesota in 1997 they released their first album, Listen to The Revolution, one year later. Like other American bands such as Grammy-winning SOJA, Stick Figure and Rebelution, they have built a following touring the United States.
While Stick Figure and Rebelution are synonymous with California, Rawle G is wary of the regional tag that has dogged Dred I Dread throughout their career.
"Yes, we are tired of the label of 'Midwest band'. We just want to be labelled a reggae band and that's it â€” and hopefully this album will help us realise that goal. Dred I Dread's main objectives with this album is to finally break out of just being a Midwest band to playing major festivals all over the USA, Europe, Caribbean and rest of the world."