The (R)Evolution of Rootz Underground Hits the West

“Jah give me talent to dance, Jah give me talent to play…”from “20 Centuries”

Denver, CO, USA - There once was a time when reggae greats such as Bob Marley and the Wailers ruled the reggae scene, when there was as much passion for the message as there was for the music. Rootz Underground, the young six-man band from the birthplace of reggae, brings us back to that time.

The band is comprised of members Stephen Newland (lead vocals), Charles Lazarus (lead guitar), Colin Young (bass), Jeffrey Moss-Solomon (rhythm guitar/vocals), Paul “Scubi” Smith (keyboards/vocals), and Leon Campbell (drums). The Jamaica natives bring an eclectic mix of talents and experiences that are brilliantly expressed through their music.

On Wednesday, March 28th at Cervantes’ Other Side, the synergy among the band members who profess to be a “natural coming together of a group of friends, musically,”[1] was evident. It goes without saying that a live Rootz Underground show brings good vibes to any audience. With the exception of Stephen, the the majority of the band played their respective instruments wearing dark sunglasses.  They exercise this “signature” style at every performance, which promotes a mysterious yet cool vibe, and their sounds are untouched by the voluntary darkness.

Stephen newland

Stephen newland

Complementing his raspy, yet powerful voice, lead singer Stephen displayed an energetic stage presence, with body movements reminiscent of Bob Marley combined with Mick Jagger. He clearly emanated the passion he felt in songs’ lyrics, and made the audience believers in the embedded messages. In short, the Rastaman is a rock star.

“When you hear their songs, you can’t help but to take Rootz seriously.” – Wayne Armond, Producer of “Movement”

Rootz Underground blessed the audience with the conscious and relevant lyrics of their songs, the majority of which were written by Stephen Newland. Songs such as “Hammer,” “Herb Fields,” and “Power to the People” were played, and the night ended with their hit, “Victims of the System.” Rootz Underground left their fans satisfied and with a sense of empowerment as they left the building.

It can be said that Rootz Underground’s mission was fulfilled that night, as their purpose was to spread messages about Jah, revolution, love, and change. [2] Add to these messages familiar yet innovative sounds, and an on-stage energy that fans immediately connect to, and you have one of the most underrated roots reggae bands of the 21st century.

Rootz Underground is currently on their "Rootz Releaf 2012" West Coast Tour. Check out their schedule on the Official Rootz Underground website:

[1]Charles Lazarus in “The Rootz Reggaementary”


Many thanks to Ira Sweetwine and Jeffrey Solomon

Photos: William Richards; Christy Jeziorski for Inity Weekly