The Simpkin Project Sets a New Roots, Rock, Reggae Standard at the Legendary Belly Up Tavern
Solana Beach, CA – Thursday was a night of prime Cali reggae, as The Simpkin Project rightfully headlined the legendary Belly Up in Solana Beach. The southern California band blessed the Belly Up audience with songs from albums past and provided a glimpse of future classics. Faithful followers and soon-to-be converts absorbed the band’s profound lyrics and sounds with their eyes closed and hands in the air - a testament to The Simpkin Project’s ability to penetrate listeners’ souls.
A Huntington Beach-based band, The Simpkin Project plays what has been described as a versatile mix of reggae and Americana music. Their popularity is rising as the rock-reggae genre is making its way onto the mainstream. Yet, to simply place the band into one category would be an injustice to the The Simpkin Project, as they are clearly in a class of their own.
The night included entertainment by openers Piracy Conspiracy and Reeform. Piracy Conspiracy is led by Meli Piracy, whose energetic performance and Sister Nancy-like deejaying style was a pleasant surprise. One can only appreciate a lady representing the movement, since a roots-style female vocalist is a rare entity to this day. Reeform, a 6-piece band from nearby San Marcos, California, graced the crowd with their fusion style of reggae that is reminiscent of established bands such as Slightly Stoopid and Rebelution. They turned the party out, alternating from faster-paced punk and rock-reggae styles, to mellow skank rhythms that all reggae fans can relate to.
Still, the most memorable performance of the night was that of The Simpkin Project. Poetic and intelligent lyrics were translated through the soothing voice of front man Phil Simpkin, while each band member contributed their unmatched talents that make The Simpkin Project’s sound uniquely theirs. Songs such as “Harder,” (2011) and “Everything You Want” (2011) were performed, while staples such as “Conflict” (2007) “If You Really Want It,” (2008) and “Pyaka” (2007) were revisited to the audience’s delight. Towards the end of the night, guitarist Ralph Arenas took center stage and maintained the spirited vibe that filled the venue. The band also tested songs from their forthcoming untitled album which left everyone, including yours truly, wanting for more.
The band has undergone certain changes, which includes the addition of new organist Chris Peaslee, and Fortunate Youth’s Travis Walpole temporarily substituting as the band’s percussionist. Still, The Simpkin Project did nothing less than seamlessly deliver their style of beautiful feel-good reggae music at the Belly Up.
The Simpkin Project’s music provides an energy that takes individuals to a positive place. Their music speaks to all, whether they are the socially conscious, the soul searchers, or those who simply want to have an old-fashioned good time. The band’s passion and ingenuity will extend beyond mainstream fads. They represent pure roots, rock, reggae music at its finest, connecting the masses with a power and sonic skill that only The Simpkin Project can bestow.
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Photos: Christy Jeziorski for Inity Weekly