June 20th, 2018
Where are you when you dream about your "happy place"? Are you relaxing on a beach, sipping cocktails, thinking about the worlds injustices as you sway to an Afro-Caribbean beat? If so, this may be the perfect album for you. The Rocksteady 7 stand firmly in their Jamaican roots while focusing on strong messages that demonstrate their connection to American Jazz, R&B and Soul with their release of The Giver.
You may be asking, "who's David Hillyard & The Rocksteady 7?" and I get it... I've only known David as the accomplished sax-man for The Slackers. Even my Slackers obsession didn't lead me directly to The Rocksteady 7 and for that, I feel as if I failed as a fan. All musicophile guilt aside, I had the chance to sit down with Hillyard to discuss the release of their new album, touring and bad subway stories - all over far too much Greek Salad.
It's a beautiful day in Denver and Pete's Kitchen buzzed with excitement. This Denver staple never disappoints so I'm glad it was at the top of David's list. Waiting for David to arrive, I pulled out the album sleeve I had hidden in my purse. I felt like I needed to touch base with it one more time. At this point, I've played this album over and over again for days, I feel like I'm finally starting to connect with it in a far deeper way than I had originally anticipated. There's always been depth in Hillyard's music, that is a certainty, but this album feels different. It's darker but somehow, it manages to disarm me with all its candor.
"Home was once an empty vacuum that's filled now with my silent screams"
- HOME IS WHERE THE HATRED IS
David's arrangement and "rotating collective" of musicians on these albums have proved to be a winning recipe. This handcrafted journey of sound is eleven tracks deep, I wont lie, I would've loved more. I know, I know... save some for next time. That's the interesting thing about The Rocksteady 7, every "next time" is also "for the first time" and maybe a little of "for the last time" too.
"I always like writing for a singers voice"
- David Hillyard
With tracks like Measure of a Man, Now That You Know and title track The Giver the captivating American roots vocals of Sean Wheeler shine. Song of the Underground Railroad is a cover of the John Coltrane version, arranged by Hillyard and Measure of a Man is an impactful cover of Glen Sherley's 1971 country classic that stands as one of the more fitting messages for our time.
"The Giver is where we achieve that fullness in sound on vinyl" - Hillyard
David assured me as we bonded over kalamata olive pits, that the experience between vinyl and CD, though different, will be just as engaging. I wish I could tell you I listened to both, sadly, I did not. I know the vinyl is going to take this to an entirely different level and I'm looking froward to diving into that experience on a nice sunny afternoon relaxing on a Denver rooftop garden - I'm not saying I have one, I'm just saying it would be nice.
The musicians on this album are not only impressive but perfectly suited and as David himself happily professed, "I was lucky to be able to get all the people I wanted." And oh boy, did he pick perfectly. You may recognize Slacker band-mate Glen Pine and esteemed percussionist Larry McDonald in the credits. But wait, there's more...
David Hillyard – Tenor and Baritone Saxophones, Backing Vocals on 5
Larry McDonald – Percussion
Jimmy Boom – Drums
Chiquis Lozoya – Bass, Backing Vocals on 2-5, 8-10
Devin Morrison – Guitar
Ray Jacildo – Organ, Piano
Sean Wheeler – Lead Vocals on 2-5, 7-10
Alex Desert – Backing Vocals on 2-5, 8-10
Glen Pine – Trombone on 1-3, 7
Buford O’Sullivan – Trombone on 5, 8, 10,11
Luigi De Gaspari – Trombone, Bass Trombone on 4, 6, 10
Rich Graiko – Trumpet on 1, 6, 7, 8, 10
Rolf Langsjoen – Trumpet on 2,4, 5
Tommy Mattioli – Balafon on 6, Vibraphone on 7,10,11
Jayson Nugent – Pick Guitar on 4 , 7
Micah Nelson – Harmonica on 9
Since their first album in 1999, The Rocksteady 7's sound has mixed together a variety of influences while managing to be respectful to the sounds of the past. The Giver in that sense is no different, it's slathered in tradition but still unique in it's interpretation of what the melding of these genres can be.
I strongly suggest you find the closest venue to you and get tickets.
If this tour is anything like this album, it's going to be a ride that you don't want to miss.
June 23 - Boonville, CA- Sierra Nevada World Music Fest - day 1 June 24 - Boonville, CA - Sierra Nevada World Music Fest - day 2 June 26 - Phoenix, AZ - Valley Bar June 27 - Yuma, Az - Alement June 28 - San Diego, CA - Casbah June 29 - Los Angeles, CA - California Plaza - FREE SHOW June 30 - Fullerton, CA - Slidebar - FREE SHOW
Sept 22 - Brooklyn, NY- Hanks
Sept 23 - Brooklyn, NY - Atlantic Antic @Hanks
Sept 28/29 - Chicago, IL - Reggies
July 5 - Paris, FR - Le Peche July 6 - Bordeaux - tba July 7 - Guyenne, fr - Stacatto July 8 - Vic, es - Jazz Cava July 11 - Barcelona, es - Sala Apolo July 12 - Madrid, es - Gruta 77 July 13 - Tarrega, es - Paupaterres Festival July 15 - Dordrecht, nl - Big River Festival July 17 - Amsterdam, nl - Melkweg July 18 - Le Havre, fr - L'escale July 20 - London, UK - Level Up Festival July 21 - Stafford, UK - Redrum July 22 - Newcastle, UK - Thinktank? July 24 - Strasbourg, fr - Mudd Club July 28 - San Vincenzo, It - Lago Verde