Reggae band High Hopes will perform a benefit show for Hingham’s Lacrosse
Jay N. Miller
The connection between reggae music and lacrosse is rarely explored, but on Saturday night Hull’s C-Note will host another edition of a special South Shore reggae/lacrosse alliance. The reggae group from the South Shore high hopes will give a benefit concert for the Hingham Youth Lacrosse Programall profits going to promote the sport in the city.
This is the third time the club has held such a fundraiser, and the second time High Hopes has headlined. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the show will go on until the last beat, but tickets will not be sold at the door. For this event only, tickets must be purchased in advance through Hingham Boys Youth Lacrosse, via its [email protected], and all tickets are $30.
The show is a chance to help a local youth charity and it’s something of a re-emergence for High Hopes. Not only did the sextet encounter the same lack of gigs that nearly every other musician encountered during the pandemic, but the band also had to undergo personnel changes. Add it all up and it looks like the band, which has thrilled audiences across the East Coast for two decades, is entering a new chapter, with new members and a revitalized attitude.
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Ras Droppa in programming
The biggest change fans will notice is that High Hopes has a new lead singer, and he’s a reggae icon. Ras Droppa was born in Jamaica as Samuel Richards and did some of his early gigs with his family in The Richard Brothers Band. In his 30-year career as a reggae singer and bassist, Ras Droppa has shared the stage with such titans of the genre as Sugar Minott, Beres Hammond, Lucky Dube, Burning Spear, Jimmy Cliff and The Wailers. Ras Droppa is now the lead singer of High Hopes, and when he does his solo gigs, they serve as his backup band.
But the origins of high hopes came to the South Shore. Bassist Julie Feola had played many different musical styles, but a trip to Jamaica in her late twenties convinced her that reggae was her calling. She found several like-minded musicians in the area, including Marshfield percussionist Zeke Carlson.
“It was around 2003, when I built my studio and reggae was my favorite music,” Feola recalls from his home in Hull. “Zeke and I were partners in High Hopes from the start and were the foundation of the band.”
What is it about this particular style of music that is so fascinating to them?
“I think we’re all very into ‘conscious reggae,'” Feola said. “It’s how words and sound have a power of their own. Typically ‘roots reggae’ as we play it has a strong message of freedom from suffering. It attracts a very diverse crowd and brings people together. We all become unified through music. The music industry in general is very ego-driven, but we wanted High Hopes to stay true to the sentiment we found in Jamaica: keeping hope at the forefront of our music and reaching out to others. »
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The Ras Droppa connection was born by simply playing together in the world of reggae.
“We started working with Ras a few years ago,” Feola noted. “He used to play with Easy Star (a reggae label) All Stars, and he writes his own originals. We had played his music and had the chance to act as his band and we realized what a great performer he was. Ras is a fantastic bassist and toured with (vocalist) Anthony B for about 14 years. It’s a lot of fun for me to work with him, both as a musician and as a bassist.
But as Feola was set to undertake a restructuring of the group, the pandemic rendered much of that subject. Nobody was playing a lot of music anywhere.
“It was really weird to go that long without playing a show,” Feola said. “We used to play over 50 shows a year and travel all over the East. It was a good time to make some changes in the group, which we had considered. It was also a good time to take time and breathe. We had worked hard for several years. It was good to go with the flow for a while.
The new lineup includes Ras Droppa on vocals, Feola on bass, Carlson on percussion, Gabe Kirchheimer on drums and Jason “Big Dread” Smith on guitar. The group uses several keyboardists and has not yet chosen a permanent member.
“Apart from Zeke and me, most of the other guys are based in New York and the surrounding area,” Feola said. “At the end of 2020 we started getting together in my home studio in Hull and working on new music. Gabe runs a studio in Times Square, so we meet and collaborate with a lot of other musicians when we go there. Having half the band in New York makes the logistics a bit more complicated, but we make it work. We had a recent gig in Connecticut, so for that gig we went to New York and rehearsed for about a week. This connection to New York opened up many new opportunities. I always try to see obstacles as opportunities.
It’s been a tough time, but as the music world continues to come alive, Feola and High Hopes are eager to get back to regular action.
“It’s been an interesting journey at times,” Feola said. “Spreading the energy of our music is what I’ve missed the most. Live shows involve so much energy going from the crowd to the stage and back again. People tell us that this music is almost Medicare to them, and it’s very satisfying. People say “You REALLY are a reggae band”, which is so funny, but I think it’s because reggae has been transformed into so many different sounds. We try to stay true to roots reggae, where you can really feel the vibe.
And how about that butt connection?
“We played a previous advantage for Hingham Youth Lacrosse, in ‘previous times,'” Feola said with a laugh. “So it was either 2018 or 2019, but it’s always nice to be able to support local organizations. I think originally one of their employees contacted us and said they were fans and that we were happy to do so.
Hot Stove Highlights
We arrived for Saturday’s Hot Stove Cool Music benefit concert at Boston’s Paradise Rock Club after 9 p.m., so unfortunately we missed Kay Hanley and the latest edition of A Band of Their Own. But we heard sportswriter Peter Gammons sing rock classics with the Hot Stove All Stars.
Former Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo sang a rousing version of the Foo Fighters’ “Everlong,” with guest guitarists Theo Epstein and Lenny DiNardo. Soulman Barrence Whitfield sang a moaning rendition of Chicago’s old “25 or 6 to 4” and Will Dailey led the All Stars through a spirited “Band on the Run.” Goo Goo Dolls singer Johnny Rzeznik did a solo acoustic set that was sublimely focused, then took out the All Stars for a finale with Tom Petty’s “Give a Little Bit” and “American Girl.” A lady named Lynette purchased a guitar autographed by Rzeznik, Arroyo and DiNardo for $7,500 to cap off the evening in aid of A Foundation to Be Named Later’s community and youth programs.
See high hopes in Hull
When: 8 p.m. to midnight on May 7
Or: The C-note159 Nantasket Avenue, Hull
Tickets: $30 via Venmo @Hingham-Boys-Youth-Lacrosse
Information: Tickets will not be sold at the door
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