Roots Underground

‘We will be the first Jamaicans to perform’
By Hasani Walters—-,
Rootz Underground has been making a name for themselves.

Not only in the traditional reggae markets globally, but they have managed to step outside that box into other markets that aren’t necessarily reggae-based.As a result, the band has secured a place on the entertainment roster for the 2013 Burning Man festival.

Stephen Newland

Burning Man is a largely art-based event held on the ‘Playa’ (nickname given to the venue) of the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada, in the United States.

It takes its name from the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy on the festival’s Saturday evening.

The event is described as an experiment in community, art, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance.

Rootz Underground is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday, August 27, and have shows that same day through until Thursday.

“We will be the first Jamaicans not to attend, but to perform. Live music is not huge at the Burning Man because the environmental elements (sandstorms, etc) are hard on the equipment and the production,” said Charles Lazarus of the band.

featured genres

As such the festival usually features genres such as electronic, house and trance music.

Breaking out of the ‘reggae box’, Rootz Underground has “basically crossed over now. At our shows there aren’t only reggae fans anymore. We’ve kinda transcended the reggae band from Jamaican vibe to a Jamaican band that plays reggae.”

“They’re a lot of acts from Jamaica doing well but Rootz Underground is way ahead. When we go to Burning Man now it’s also making a statement because our thinking and the places we play are outside the box. Everybody goes to Summerjam, and you can go to Rottotam, but you’re not gonna go to the Oregon Country Fair, or the Burning Man, or Boonville, those are out-of-the-box, crazed-out festivals. We can do that because of the way our band is structured,” said Lazarus.

The festival which is more than 25 years old, is host to approximately 60,000 people each year in its ‘city’.

a ‘jam vibe’ category

A popular face overseas but not in Jamaica, the band has accepted that and has seemingly fallen into a ‘jam vibe’ category, according to Lazarus.

“(We’re) Kinda like a Burning Spear. We’re more free on the stage, not fixed. These (Burning Man) are the kinda shows that you can do that at because the people are there to get lost in the music not just stand up and watch the show,” he said.

For the Burning Man performance, they’re going to be open energetically and musically and simply adjust their music to fit what’s happening. They don’t have a fixed set.

The band’s European tour, which will continue after the Burning Man festival, has been going well. “It’s their best tour ever,” Lazarus shared.

“Everybody is really focused, the exact same way to make it work, everybody is on the same page,” he said.