Mystic Roots reggae band plays a Tahoe debut of sorts at Whiskey Dick’s
August 28, 2008
A reggae band from Chico is taking a break from its mystical connection with a British reggae legend to build a natural bond with South Shore fans.
Mystic Roots, Pato Banton’s official band since 2006, returns to Whiskey Dick’s Saloon on Sunday, Aug. 31. The band backed Banton when he headlined at the saloon in June but will return for a South Shore debut of sorts: Mystic Roots lead vocalist, who goes by the name cootdog, said Sunday’s show marks the band’s first show here without Pato except for a 1996 performance at Chevy’s with a vastly different lineup. The current incarnation is cootdog, with Dane-“Jah” Lundy on bass, drummer Tony Saenz, guitarist Darren “D-Rock” Bruestle returning to the fold, Shane “Storm” Baird and Scott Schipper on sax and keys, and percussionist Tim Costa.
“We’re really excited about playing Tahoe again,” cootdog said. “We’ve never played South Lake Tahoe on our own.”
Mystic Roots started in 1996 and paid tribute to its hometown with “Chico Style” the next year. Mystic Roots and Banton first came together at a show in Chico, when Pato called cootdog up onstage for audience participation during one of his songs.
“When he was looking for someone in the crowd to come up, I jumped up to perform with him, and I didn’t get it,” cootdog said. “I didn’t know you were supposed to do his songs.”
“He said, ‘Pato I’m going to be honest with you: I don’t know your song, so I’m going to do my own,’ ” Banton told Lake Tahoe Action in June.
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The vocalist made an impression: “It was kind of funny, and he was impressed I guess, and he always kind of kept in touch with me” cootdog said. That impression evidently lasted, because 1999 turned into a landmark for Mystic Roots with the band’s first gig opening for Banton and the release of “Constant Struggle.”
“I thought this would be a nice twist” Banton said. “For me, it was going to be an all-white band or an all-female band.”
He also said his backing band brings out his youthful vibe as well as the hip-hop undertones in his back catalogue.
“It also brings that out of me, because anything, they bring to the table, I bounce off of it, and it does inspire me to do different things in different ways” he said. “Also, the band is very tight and that gives me as a live performer the freedom to experiment while we’re doing a show, and I think one of the most important things Mystic Roots brings to me as a band is a sense of brotherly love and unity, which I’ve never experienced before.”
“Mystic Roots have definitely helped me with the transition, because I could’ve been in a different situation with a different group of guys, and it could be a grind.”
After its nationwide release in 2005, “Constant Struggle” received the 2005 L.A. Music Award for Best Reggae Album. The next year, Mystic Roots joined forces with Banton full time.
Still, despite the mutual respect between Banton and Mystic Roots, the band still relishes the chance to strike out on its own and return to old favorites such as “Pass the Marijuana” and “April Rain.”
“Our own material is closer to our own heart, and when we play our own material, it’s us expressing our own heart,” cootdog said. “A Mystic Roots show is a little more of a party show.”
It also gives the band a chance to road-test some new material. Mystic Roots has been circulating a full-length summer sampler featuring selections from the band both with and without Banton, as well as work with DJ Catherine Ramirez and the Cootdog Project.
“We still give the fans what they’re looking for and hit ’em up, but by the same token, we’re pretty excited about some of the new stuff,” cootdog said.
Some of the new favorites are “Lonely Road” and “Blessings,” two songs that complement each other, detailing both the tribulations and the joy of being on the road, and “$100 Bag,” the band’s new ode to the green stuff.
Mystic Roots joins Planting Seeds and Rise of the Revolution (see related story, following page) for Sunday’s show. Planting Seeds’ influences range from flamenco to reggae and metal. The band has played from Las Vegas to Homer, Alaska, and opened for the Lou Dog Trio, a Sublime tribute, July 6 at Whiskey Dick’s.