Maybe the reason South Florida's beachfront dives and downtown haunts are filled with so many reggae-rock bands is the year round sunshine, miles and miles of sandy beaches, our general love of flip-flops. The island grooves with dub bounce just feel natural here.
But with such a saturation of like-mined bands, it is a challenge to stand out. Fort Lauderdale six-piece, Bushwood, has actually accomplished this task, striking a chord with a sound that meanders from reggae to funk and R&B.
Together since 2009, the fellas from Bushwood have gone through various transformations. The band began as a power trio, consisting then of guitarist and lead vocalist Steven Ross Voronkos, Adam Moskowitz on bass, and Jon Cross on drums. Bushwood dished out reggae vibes that dabbled with improvisational jamming. They quickly released their self-titled full-length debut in 2011. The album paid as much tribute to the positive ambiances of Bob Marley as much as it did to the bombast heard on mid-'90s 311 albums.
Through the years, the band has marched on, paying their dues and expanding their sound. They are mainstays at Deerfield Beach's surfer den Kahuna's, Poorhouse, Propaganda, and Deck 84. The band is a six-member unit now -- including the aforementioned previous members, as well as Carl Dykes on saxophone, Eric Schechter on percussion, and Claudio Napoles on the keys.
With the augmented lineup and addition of brass and percussion instruments, Bushwood evolved into a band that is not easily pigeonholed into the reggae-rock genre. The troupe is releasing its second album, Tidal Wave, on June 22, and throwing itself a proper album release party at the ArtsPark Amphitheater in Hollywood. The album demonstrates a band that has matured and is ready to explore new terrain, especially on tracks like "I Dont' Mind" and "Determination."
We caught up with Bushwood bassist Adam Moskowitz and spoke with him about the band's upcoming effort and its turn to a broader sound.
New Times: The reggae rock movement is pretty large here in South Florida, what do you attribute to that? Is it merely that our weather? Are the sun and sand conducive to that type of sound?
Adam Moskowitz: We've always had the influence of the ocean on our sound. We identify completely with reggae music and believe it's no surprise that it is prevalent in areas by the sea. Think Jamaica, Hawaii, California, Florida, etc. It's similar to the popularity of country music in Nashville. It is a hypnotic form of music, undulating much like waves on a sandy shore.
Do you worry that the scene may be too saturated?
No, not at all. Music is something that should be shared, and saturation is never an issue because good music is needed everywhere. Our goal is just to be real with our music and not pretend to be anything that we aren't. Most of our songs start on the acoustic guitar. We have just made and continue to make the music that we would want to hear. We love being a part of this movement, but we definitely carve our own path.
Do you think your sound would work in, let's say, Pittsburgh or Topeka?
Music in general should be a respite from the worry and the tediousness of the mundane day-to-day grind. We feel that our music is an escape, and everyone needs that escape at times, especially if you're living in Topeka! No offense to Topekans.
When you pop in a CD or hit play on your iPhone, you are transformed, and music is universal in that way. We have Bob Marley to thank for putting reggae music on the map, and we bet he never thought people in Pittsburgh or Topeka would be interested in his jams, but they are. Although reggae relates to people living by the water, it might be even more important to those that don't and only dream about lying on a beach.
The cover art for the new album Tidal Wave is pretty intense, who designed it and what was the concept. Does it have any tie-in to the album's songs themselves?
The album art was designed by Adam Forero who is a sick tattoo artist at KreepyTiki in Fort Lauderdale. He actually tattooed our singer Steve's arm, so check that out next time you see us live. Tidal Wave is the album title as well as the name of the second track, where the lyrics go "Hit you like a tidal wave, feel the rhythm tumbling down." Even though tidal waves are typically considered natural disasters, we put a twist on that visual and made the metaphor that our music is like a tidal wave enveloping your ears.
Describe how this album differs from your debut?
When we recorded our debut album back in April 2011, we were a "power trio" of sorts. In the interim between albums, we slowly expanded the band by first adding Claudio Napoles who provided magical keys and the "reggae bubble." Then we met Carl Dykes who plays alto sax and sings and has been an absolute perfect fit for the band, and most recently we brought in Eric Schechter who adds percussion with djembe, bongos, tambourine, and shake-shakes which you will hear spicing up the entire album. Tidal Wave spans several styles of reggae, both upbeat and roots, and definitely has some funky and rocking songs as well.
How did you end up picking Hollywood's ArtPark as the location for your album release party?
The ArtsPark Amphitheater at Young Circle in Downtown Hollywood is a majestic stage as anyone who has seen it can attest to. It's huge! We've played there twice now for a charity event called Take Steps for Crohn's and Colitis. And, as the new album was being completed and ready for mixing, we realized that our date booked there for Saturday, June 22, might perfectly align as our album release party. To accomplish that, we set deadlines for mixing and mastering to give us time to get the album pressed through DiscMakers in time for the show. Luckily, thanks to great teamwork, technology, and professionalism, we achieved that goal.
Bushwood's album release party, with the Future Prezidents 8:30 p.m., Saturday, June, 22, at Hollywood ArtsPark, One Young Circle, Hollywood. More info here.
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