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Preserving a signature sound

Jah Works stays authentic with new frontman

Jah Works stays authentic with new frontman

October 02, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

FREDERICK, Md. -- Jah Works has regained some of its footing after lead singer and founding member Scott Paynter left the band nearly two years ago.

On Saturday, reggae band Jah Works will perform with a new frontman, Eric Vincent, during the In the Street festival in downtown Frederick. Jah Works will open for the Kelly Bell Band.

Keyboardist and longtime band member Brian Gorman said that Paynter left in January 2007 because of "creative differences" with the rest of the band. Vincent, the band's former drummer, has held down the frontman post since then.

"It's actually pretty amazing to keep a band together that long," Gorman said, adding that there was no bad blood, though he has not been in contact with Paynter since the split.

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Based in Baltimore, Jah Works has been around for more than a decade, with several albums to boot. Gorman said the band has performed in many parts of the world -- Asia, the Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and, of course, Jamaica. Jah Works performed at Downtown Live in Hagerstown last year as one of the opening acts for The Wailers, a group of musicians who played with Bob Marley.

Gorman said the challenge now facing Jah Works is being able to preserve their signature sound -- making reggae music for an American audience more inclined to confuse reggae music with dancehall, a form of Jamaican rap. They also continue to adapt to a new lead vocalist.

"It's very much like starting over, even though we have a backlog of seven or eight albums," Gorman said.

The band has lots of confidence in Vincent. Gorman said that since Paynter left, the band completed a music tour in the Middle East and has recorded at least half an album of new material.

Gorman said the band doesn't plan to embark on any more major tours soon. Jah Works will be focusing on coming up with more music.




About Jah Works



Vocals -- Eric Vincent

Vocals, sax -- Natty Roc

Keyboard -- Brian Gorman

Guitar -- Kevin Gorman

Bass -- Mike Hamilton

Drums -- Jonathan Pang

Genre -- Reggae

Hometown -- Baltimore

Upcoming show -- 1:30 to 2:45 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4, In the Street festival, Carroll Creek amphitheater, downtown Frederick, Md. In the Street activities are scheduled Friday, Oct. 3, through Saturday, Oct. 4. Go to www.celebratefrederick.com for the full listing of events.

Web -- www.myspace.com/jahworksband, www.jahworks.com




Q & A with keyboardist Brian Gorman, of reggae band Jah Works



So, what is the reception like in Europe?
I would actually say reggae is a lot bigger over there.

Really? Even with our proximity to Jamaica? I thought it would be bigger here.
You would think so. Reggae is a niche form of music, here. It's popular in the summer. I think you have a narrower view of reggae over here, but in Europe, they get it.

Do you guys find yourselves having to explain to people what you do?
Yeah. People will put a reggae show together and have no idea what we do. We were once asked if we could do a reggae luau. And I don't even know what a reggae luau would be.

So what's the process been like with the new frontman?
Things are the same musically. The process has changed. It was definitely a really big transition. The switch came just before our Armed Forces tour in the Middle East. We had to really get our stuff together. We didn't have a lot of time to think about what kind of stuff we were going to do.

What's it like touring overseas?
We've done three Armed Forces tours. The first was in Greenland -- we actually have a base up there. We were actually inside the Arctic Circle. It was 24-hour daylight, just absolutely the strangest thing. There's no vegetation, just snow and ice. It felt like being on the moon.

The second tour was in the Pacific. We started off in Hawaii and continued to go west ... The last spot was an island called Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. A lot of places we went to were noncombat zones.

What about the Middle East?
We started in Kuwait, then went to Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Djibouti in Africa, and Saudi Arabia. That one was a lot different than both the previous ones because we were in combat zones. We were supposed to go to Iraq and Afghanistan but they pulled them from the tour.

Once we got over there and got to entertain the troops, the people there were just a lot closer to the action. The soldiers really needed it, a touch of home. We really felt like we had a mission.

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