By KARA POUND
F ormed in 2012 by singer-guitarist Shaun Strong, Root of All has toured with a number of reggae, ska and dub acts including The Original Wailers, Pato Banton, Yellowman and Sun-Dried Vibes. This St. Augustine-based band currently boasts a lineup featuring Strong, Marcus Russel on vocals and guitar, Bo Ramsey on bass and Wyatt Ramsey on drums.
With an upcoming performance at The Original Café Eleven to open for folk-reggae group Pasadena, Compass caught up with Root of All to learn a bit more about the band’s progression over the years, the local music community and what the future holds. Strong and Russel took the time to answer a few questions.
Compass: How has the band grown over the years?
Strong & Russel: From early on it was established that we wanted to showcase harmonizing vocals as the focal point of our sound. Also, we wanted to reach beyond the usual bar gig band stigma that is most musicians’ bread and butter. This approach is difficult when trying to lock down steady players. At this point, the two of us have solidified ourselves as the heart and soul of the ROA sound. Recently, twins Bo and Wyatt Ramsey joined up to fill in on bass and drums, which has completed our current lineup.
Compass: What do you think of the St. Augustine music community?
S & R: We both have had different experiences with the local scene. There has definitely been a major growth in the scene in the past 10 years. More bars, more stages. It can be difficult to demand a minimum in town because most bars pay what they pay and you have to choose to take it or not. We prefer to not take advantage of the local scene as our daily grind, so when we do get a chance to play a show — such as this one with Pasadena — people haven’t seen us in a while, so maybe it makes them a little bit more interested in going to check us out.
Compass: Is “I Know Now” the only recording that the band has released?
S & R: No. On New Year’s this year, we released our latest single. “Steal the Show,” which refers to the fact that a large percentage of our original material is all influenced by the same person. We chose to release it on a wearable and reusable 2 GB USB bracelet, which allows us to advertise the band, as well as promote our music. We put three versions of the song on the bracelet, as well as a live video actually recorded from our last live show at Cafe Eleven with Makua Rothman. The bracelet also includes an interactive menu where you can find out more info on the band, as well as photos.
Compass: You’re opening for Pasadena at Café Eleven on March 11. How did that show come about?
S & R: From day one, Chad [the owner] has always been in our ring. He has put us onto shows with some of our biggest influences. We owe him a lot for supporting the local scene, as well as Adam Simons from Bridge of Lions Entertainment. He has also been one of our biggest supporters. We had the pleasure of playing with Pasadena at the Chillin’ Music Fest in Tampa this past October. So naturally, when Chad asked if we were interested, it was a no brainer.
Compass: For someone who has never seen you live, what’s a Root of All performance like?
S & R: People don’t expect what they get — that’s for sure. They see a couple huggable bearded dudes and then hear something different than what they imagined. We put our heart and soul into every performance. People always recognize that.
Compass: What does the near future hold for the band?
S & R: The future is good. We have two really great shows coming up that we are beyond excited for. First, we are joining The Movement and TreeHouse on March 25 at Jannus Landing and then we have the pleasure of joining a ton of local and national talent at the MindSpring Music Festival at the St. Johns County Fairgrounds on April 16.
Compass: What would you like the band’s distant future to look like?
S & R: There is no telling. At this point, we keep surprising ourselves with bigger and bigger opportunities. As long as it keeps being fun and we are breathing, who knows when the ride will stop. Both of us hope we can keep growing and being relevant as the future unfolds.
Root of All will be opening for Pasadena Sunday at 9 p.m. at The Original Café Eleven, 501 A1A Beach Blvd. Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 at the door.