Mystafya brings reggae sound to Cooper’s
If it’s roots, rock, reggae and dub* that float your boat, come Friday to Cooper’s in Nevada City, where one of the area’s most beloved reggae dance bands, Mystafya, is playing, for an evening of great dancing.
They call themselves “Northern California’s favorite reggae band,” and considering the wild welcome they receive when they play locally, that may be so.
Formed in 1997, Mystafya (pronounced mista-ta-FI-ya) is not the Swahili word for “mystical.” Says a spokesperson for the band, “Our bass player thought it up. To us it means transition, change.” The group has shared the stage with reggae greats, such as Bunny Wailer, Steel Pulse, Third World and “the Teacher” Toots, and the Maytals (a big seven times). It has played at major music festivals, such as Reggae on the Lake, Renegade Festivals and the Monterey Bay Reggae Fest.
“The main purpose of the band,” says Scott Wilson, one of the band’s founders, “is to write about the big issues of the world and express them through uplifting words of wisdom and common sense. Done correctly, people can dance and have a good time while hearing positive solutions instead of negative criticism.”
The band is made up of seven members. Growing up amongst the ghettos and shanty towns of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, Franklin “Big Frank” Williams expanded his vision and lyrics, as he became more “Rasta conscious.” The newest band member, Matthew Allard, also hails from abroad, first England, then Zimbabwe. There he heard reggae, which he found again in Humboldt County as he studied (receiving a degree in philosophy) and played music. The remaining members are Californians: Jamal Walker, who became heavily involved in Gospel music and spirituality while simultaneously staying tuned in to the hip-hop and reggae worlds; Tom “McBomb” Earwood, a Mystafya founding member, modern roots man and long-time reggae musician on the bass; Scott “DrummieX” Wilson, who has been called the No. 1 roots-rock drummer in California; Kimbuck Williams, a true rocker who adds soul and fire to the band’s music; and Mike Jones, who is recognized in the reggae world as Mixologist Mike (that’s where the dub comes in).
Wilson claims the band is the reggae darling of DJ Bahilman’s Creation Steppin’ Radio – “the No. 1 of 85 reggae stations” – where their music is played a lot (http://www.creation-steppin.com; or go though the Google of Internet radio, Live 365.com). Getting a lot of Internet play contributes to the popularity of the band’s CDs in Germany, France and the United Kingdom. Seems Mystafya is carving its own niche in reggae history.
But as good as listening to the band’s music on the Net is, nothing can beat seeing the group and dancing to the beat in person. While the band has gigs set up for Auburn (The California Club, March 25) and San Francisco (The Elbo Room, April 10), the next time Mystafya plays Cooper’s is a long way off, April 16, so now is the time to treat yourself.
It is usually a sellout crowd at Cooper’s, so the “come early” admonition applies. The love, it seems, is mutual. Says Wilson, “We’ve been playing all around Northern California and have been well accepted. But there’s nothing like playing hometown crowds. We love them as much as they love us.”
* For the uninitiated, Wilson says roots means the beginnings of reggae (for instance, Bob Marley was a roots man); rock is lover’s rock or steady dancing tempos; what more can you say about reggae except it hails from Jamaica; and dub is when the sound man takes over the music, deciding which parts to pull out to create contrast in the music, as well as lots of echo and other audio effects.
Know and go
KNOW & GO
WHAT: WHEN: Friday, 9:30 p.m.
WHERE: Cooper’s Saloon, 235 Commercial St., Nevada City
ADMISSION: $5 cover
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