John Brown’s Body Live In Studio

There was quite a crowd in the studio for this live performance with three horns, a guitar, a bass, a keyboardist, a sound mixer, and a drummer. Yet they fit in just fine as it was easy to see that they were definitely friends coming together to make a great sound. Originating from our very own Boston, MA as well as Ithaca, NY, the Reggae band John Brown’s Body describes their genre as future roots music. They’ve got a great modern spaced out sound, mixing in some dub, electronic and funk into the classic Reggae rhythms.

The band started up early with some brass harmonies in the hall of the WERS studio before going on. They were all good natured, smiling, taking photos, and jamming. The group has many vegetarians and apparently some are into yoga. They fit those stereotypes with style, nodding along and getting right into it by starting their first song. This was “TKO”, a very new song off of their brand new EP, JBB in Dub, which just came out yesterday. This song easily rises from slow to fast and back again at first, gets slow and steady in the middle and gets a little funky at the end. Every band member works hard on this one and its apparent they know what they’re doing and where they’re going. The band has plans to go all over in the next few months traveling from Newport, Rhode Island to Portland, Oregon. They’ve been a band for fifteen years; they have definitely earned their place. John Brown’s Body loves mixing it up with other bands, some they mentioned are Burning Spear, Culture, Pacifier and the Black Seeds, a Reggae band from New Zealand they clearly have a great time working with.

“Majestic Dub” was next and the smiles came out on this one — they were definitely enjoying themselves. Each of them was jamming in their own worlds to bring it all together in an easy blend. There were some great guitar moments in this one. It had great energy. They commented that they feel really solid with each other and their good communication and high flow of creativity helps them write their songs.

The last song was “Wellington”, named after the home of the band Black Seeds in New Zealand. They’ve made a video for this one and are obviously proud. The horns; trombone, trumpet and sax, really came out on this one, making for a great track. The electronics and sound effects mixed in seamlessly, surprising you at the rises and beating out slow endings. This technique was new and interesting, a sound I’m not used to but definitely dug.

Wondering how they got their name? One of their past members was a history buff with an interest in pre-civil war radical abolitionists. Apparently they liked the man’s vibe and take charge attitude in fighting for the end of slavery. This band has a lot of angles, blending a sound from all different genres and playing tunes charged with meaning.

By Sofia Drummond-Moore
Photo by Chris Gillespie

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