Listen Up! – Reggae


With so much Jawaiian music in the Islands, The Heartical Crew, better known as THC, is a breath of fresh of air. The five-member group is one of Hawai’i’s most authentic roots reggae bands, with its all-original songs proclaiming a Rastafari faith in Jah. “This is our life; it’s not like we’re Rasta just for the music,” notes vocalist and bassist Ises, who helped found the group in the early ’90s. “Our focus is to show people we can all live together in unity, without having to adhere to one religion or creed.” THC’s music is spiritual, but still accessible. The group delivers its message with danceable beats, bass lines and melodic hooks, making the band a favorite among local reggae purists and partyers alike. Watch out for THC’s third album, due out this fall.

THC – “Holy Mount Zion”
THC’s Kaikua (lead guitar and vocals), Drummie (drums), Jahson (lead guitar) and Ises (bass and vocals). photo: Karin Kovalsky
photo: Chris Bibler


After listening to Irie Souls’ all-original, roots reggae repertoire, you’d never guess its members started out as a Jawaiian cover band six years ago. Says bassist Guy “RasBassMon” Heresa, “As a band, we were really trying to find our sound. Slowly, we started getting the feeling for reggae music and the Rastafari movement, which anyone can vibe to and relate to.” With two vocalists, two guitarists, two percussionists, a keyboard player, bassist and drummer, Irie Souls brings its uplifting compositions to life, creating music that’s reminiscent of roots icons Misty in Roots and Midnite. The group also draws inspiration from Hawai‘i’s own roots pioneers THC and Ooklah the Moc, whose bassist, Ryan “Jah Gumby” Murakami will produce Irie Souls’ first album, due out early next year.

Doug Bautista, aka Humble Soul. photo: Olivier Koning


Doug Bautista, aka Humble Soul, is often called “Hawai‘i’s Bob Marley,” and it’s not hard to see why, with his socially conscious lyrics and sweet, melancholy melodies. It’s no coincidence, either. “The first time I really heard Bob Marley, I got chicken skin,” Bautista says. “It was beautiful, and I could relate to it. I wanted to be on that path. I figured how can you go wrong when you’re writing about what you believe?” In everyday life, Bautista is just as mellow as his pseudonym implies. During live shows, however, he electrifies crowds with an intense stage presence, gripping the mic and closing his eyes through nearly his entire set. Over the past decade, Bautista has shared the stage with such reggae greats as Don Carlos, Alpha Blondy and Steel Pulse.,

Humble Soul – “Pakalolo Sweet”


Tony Bush (left) and Gary Nakano, two of Ooklah the Moc’s nine members. photo: courtesy of Ooklah the Moc


In the late ‘90s, Ooklah the Moc’s following consisted of a few dozen hardcore fans who attended all of the group’s gigs, from Anna Bannana’s in Mo‘ili‘ili to Hale‘iwa Joe’s on the North Shore. Today, the nine-piece band is one of the Islands’ most sought-after acts, packing larger O‘ahu venues, such as the Hawaiian Hut and Pipeline Café, and performing before hundreds of fans on annual West Coast tours. Even after three albums and several compilations, Ooklah’s distinct fusion of original roots and dub reggae still sounds fresh. The group’s music is as eclectic as its members—two classically trained trumpet and trombone players, vocalists who count themselves as Kamehameha Glee Club alums, a drummer with an alt-rock sensibility and a bass player who has backed up ‘ukulele whiz Jake Shimabukuro in the studio and on tour. “All nine of us are from completely different crowds, so when we come together, it’s exciting,” says trombone player Tony Bush. “Those differences really spark our music.”,

Ooklah the Moc – “Hawaiian Man”


Sahra Indio plans to tour Oregon, California and Vermont this summer. photo: courtesy of Sahra Indio


When Sahra Indio released her debut solo album, Good’s Gonna Happen, in 2003, she proved that she could sing Sade-like, jazz-infused lullabies just as well as she could turn out gritty, roots reggae numbers. Indio’s musical range is as varied as her background—she started in Philadelphia, growing up among jazz artists, including her brother, the now-Hilo-based saxophonist Moon Brown. After a stint in Los Angeles, Indio moved to Hawai‘i in the late ‘70s, a point she considers her musical rebirth. “When I started listening to reggae music, I heard its message about truth, rights, oppression and justice, and it seemed to stand for all of the little people in the world,” Indio says. Indio is currently working on her second album.


“HNL,” Next Door (43 N. Hotel St., 548-NEXT,, live local roots reggae music, Thursdays, 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.

“Redda Fire,” The Living Room (Fisherman’s Wharf, 1009 Ala Moana Blvd.,, local DJs spin roots and lovers rock reggae and dancehall, Thursdays, 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., a comprehensive calendar of upcoming reggae concerts provided by Big Bar, host of KTUH radio’s “Beast Reggae” show.