ATX Sound System: April 8, 2019

We’ve written about the headliners and international artists playing the 2019 Austin Reggae Fest already. But what about the local bands that were recently announced? If you’re not familiar with the reggae scene in Austin (or, indeed, greater Texas), here’s a quick primer on some of the local talent that will be taking the stage this year. We’ve added some of their tunes to the Austin Reggae Fest playlist for you to check out, too. So, be sure to arrive early and enjoy the vibes.

Fans of Augustus Pablo will especially appreciate the melodica-driven vibes of Austin- and San Francisco-based Grimy Styles. Self-described as “an exploration in space rock from the Jamaican dub tradition”, they are what you might imagine if Pink Floyd had gone into the studio with King Tubby. They’ve been together for over a decade now and their laid-back, dubby instrumentals should be the perfect soundtrack to an afternoon out of doors by the lake.

Originally formed at Columbia College in Chicago, the members of Lion Heights made Austin home shortly after graduating in 2014. Since then, they’ve been gigging and recording regularly, releasing a handful of singles and an EP before dropping their debut full-length LP in 2017. Their classic sound is straight out of Kingston circa 1978, replete with conscious lyrics that reflect the roots reggae that inspired them as well as the current state of the world. They’re also no strangers to feel-good songs, however. And, having studied music at college, these guys can play. They’ve even been called upon to back such performers as Dawn Penn and Sister Nancy when they came through town.

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This young, brass-powered seven-piece from San Antonio was named after the band that one of their grandfathers formed in the 1950s, which played at regional dances. This new-generation version of Starlighter keeps the dance alive with upbeat ska influenced by the third wave revival of ska, spear-headed by bands like Reel Big Fish and The Mighty Mighty BossTones. But their shows aren’t just for the kids–you’re likely to hear classic covers like “Don’t Let Me Down” (The Beatles) and “Ain’t No Sunshine“ (Bill Withers) peppered throughout their lively set.

The Mau Mau Chaplains should require no introduction. Austin’s premiere reggae cover band for well over a decade, they hold down a weekly residency at Flamingo Cantina on 6th Street, playing to a steady following of fans. Some of the band members have been playing together in various projects for decades (literally), so The Chaplains are one well-oiled machine as a live unit, and they’ll be delivering favorites from Bob Marley to The Melodians, as well a few originals.

They’ve been a band for barely two years, forming in 2017, but Houston’s fast-rising quintet Roots From The Clay is already making waves in Texas and beyond. Their debut LP was picked up by an international distributor, they were invited to showcase at SXSW this year and they’ve just opened for The Wailers. At the band’s core is a husband-wife duo: Drummer and co-founder “Songo” Wilson graduated from the Edna Manley School of Music in Jamaica before touring the world for several years as a gigging musician, while frontwoman Aria Morgan-Wilson was a singer in Jamaica before landing in Houston. With conscious lyrics and a classic sound that draws from the last four decades of reggae (roots, dancehall, lovers rock and more), RFTC are a formidable live band, not to be missed.


Click here to hear all the dub sounds we have been listening to the last few days.