$5 in advance/$10 at the door
10:30pm doors/11pm showtime
Icehouse MPLS is hosting Natty Nation's Bob Marley Birthday Bash with Twin Cities' own Reggae Dancehall Hip Hop & Soca DJ Sound of Fujun for a celebration of Bob Marley's music during the month of what would have been the icon's 72nd birthday.
Bob Marley's musical and cultural influences have engendered reggae's explosive growth. His brilliant blend of the hypnotic danceable beats and messages of peace, love and justice established reggae as an enduring popular musical genre.
2016 marks Natty Nation's 21st anniversary of keeping the positive messages of their unique indigenous Wisconsin reggae beats throbbing through the heartland. Natty Nation's members pride themselves on playing original music, but now for the 8th year in a row the band honors Bob Marley's legacy by paying tribute to the king of reggae during his birthday month.
The music starts right when doors open with Sound of Fujun spinning at 10:30 PM before the band hits the stage at 11:00 PM, and they plan to keep the positive vibrations moving well into the next day.
Critically-acclaimed reggae outfit Natty Nation is a collective of spiritual warriors. For twenty years, the Madison, Wisconsin-based group has purely and fearlessly followed its inner artistic continuum. Along the way, Natty Nation has burst through genres while retaining a distinct roots reggae core.
Through it all—whether its onstage conducting its shamanistic live show, or in the studio pushing the scope of its musicality while honing its sharp songcraft—Natty Nation has remained dedicated to one mission: spreading light. Now, Natty Nation issue its brightest beacon, Divine Spark (iNatty Records), out March 11th.
“Our ultimate goal is to uplift as many people as possible through sound and vibration,” says frontman JAH Boogie - bass, lead vocals (also percussion/drums in the studio). “To do that we hope to take our music to as many places on this earth and positively influence as many souls as we possibly can.”
Natty Nation’s unique pedigree of a Midwest home base and artistic openness has helped the posse foster a signature sound. The group describes themselves as hard roots rock reggae & dub because of their embrace of soul, rock, and funk in addition to their honest and authentic reggae foundation. Natty Nation is also influenced by such diverse geniuses as Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, Living Colour, Earth Wind and Fire, Fishbone, and Bad Brains. Since 1995, Natty Nation has had fluid membership of esteemed and visionary musicians. Currently, Natty Nation is led by JAH Boogie and musical director Aaron Konkol – keyboards, vocals, & melodica. The collective also features mainstays Olen Franklin – drums, Richard Hildner – guitar, and frequent players Francisco Martinez – percussion & vocals, Mike Daum – guitar, Harjinder Singh – guitar & vocals, Eric Kummer – drums, and Louka Patenaude – guitar.
The band’s name remains a conceptual and aesthetic touchstone for the group, elucidating its wildly diverse cultural and aesthetic journeys. JAH Boogie explains: “The band got its name from a past member who coined it Natty Nation, dealing with Rastafarian culture and tradition. Natty can be locks of hair (short for natural), unity, or well dressed, and nation denoting nationality. The idea is that the barriers of nations are not natural, so the earth is the one natty nation, and we are all earth citizens. We are all one. The only thing that separates us is the ego and it's physical manifestations.”
Since its inception Natty Nation has issued five uncompromising studio albums along with a string of epiphanic live albums. The tastemaking Madison alt-weekly, Isthmus Magazine, named their 1998 release Earth Citizen one of the "top 25 Madison pop albums of all time," writing that "Natty Nation's mix of hard roots rock and reggae proved unique and gained a following that remains today.” The group has received a Wisconsin Area Music Industry award for best world artist, and to date Natty Nation has earned 27 Madison Area Music Association awards, including artist of the year, ensemble vocals, world album, and world performer for eight years running.
One of the most profound components of Natty Nation’s artistry is its live show. In this context, the band truly thrives, and all the years as a unit, the collective’s telepathic band interplay, and colorful palette of music influences make for a fresh freewheeling reggae focused experience. “We treat our recorded music as a calling card for people to come check us out live,” JAH Boogie says. “The crowd plays a huge part in where our show goes, both which songs we do, the vibe, and how long we play.” Natty Nation has built a robust artistic profile through tirelessly touring, nationally and internationally. Select live career highlights include performing at SXSW, Summerfest, Freakfest, and as well as throughout the Middle East, Africa, Japan, and the Marshall Islands.
Divine Spark is a lightning bolt of an inspirational album artistically and introspectively. JAH Boogie explains: “The Divine Spark is the higher self within everyone. I've learned that through raising your vibration, and opening your chakras, you are able to tap into your divine spark. Our music is for the mental, spiritual and physical expansion of the human family. We are spiritual individuals who express our spirituality through the frequencies and tones of the music that we play.”
Artistically it’s a watershed album as its was carefully crafted by the creative core of founding member JAH Boogie, and longtime member Aaron Konkol, who is a multi-instrumentalist and prodigious musical talent. The two shared in music writing responsibilities while JAH Boogie retained lyric duties. Divine Spark also boasts a verse from acclaimed South Side, Chicago-via-Madison rapper F. Stokes on the track “Civil Rights” and the entire album was mixed by legendary Bob Marley recording engineer Errol Brown.
Highlights on Divine Spark include the title track, “Meditation,” “Civil Rights,” and “Prophecy.” The album’s spiritual core is the simmering and soulful title track. “This song deals with the spiritual essence of each human being,” JAH Boogie explains. “The song also expresses that when you open your heart chakra it helps to open up the many other chakras within the spiritual body. When these energy centers or chakras are open then many other dimensions are open as well.” “Meditation” aptly conjures its name with sweetly languid grooves. Soul rebel militancy bubbles over with the aptly titled, “Civil Rights” courtesy of F. Stokes’s fiery rhymes. And the rousing “Prophecy” is sure to inspire self-reflection. “This song deals with going within yourself to find out who you really are or what you really are. We all have spiritual guides or angels who reveal certain things to us,” explains JAH Boogie.
A fortuitous encounter at a Rebelution show enabled a once in a lifetime opportunity. Aaron Konkol, after marveling over Rebelution’s sparkling live sound, ran into the group and asked who was manning the boards for their live show. To his astonishment it was Errol Brown (Bob Marley, Gregory Isaacs, Burning Spear, among others). At the time, Natty Nation had been chasing the optimum mix for years. Errol agreed to mix the album in his makeshift studio he built in the back of Rebelution's tour bus. He worked closely with Aaron’s feedback and the two came up with a majestic mix.
Divine Spark marks the beginning of an era of fevered creativity and watershed output for Natty Nation. Thinking back on the group’s perseverance, JAH Boogie says: “We believe in creating positive energy in the universe, and when we can see the people dancing, smiling and nodding their head to our music, and then coming up after the shows or reaching out to us to tell us how our music touched them profoundly, or even just were a great soundtrack to a fun night, it really means the world to us and keeps us on this path to make music.”