Mystic Roots is all about “Change” these days.
Songs on Chico-based reggae group’s soon-to-be-released fifth full-length album, “Change,” are for the first time almost entirely led by vocalist Katherine Ramirez and the lyrical content has its most serious tone since its first album. And by the time you finish reading this article, Ramirez might need to change her newborn baby.
The son, named Lake Anthony, was born on March 30. He will accompany Mystic Roots on a short tour that hit towns within a three-hour drive from Chico.
“We’re excited to get him out on the road with the band,” Ramirez said.
This week, concertgoers at Lake Tahoe, Petaluma, Oakland and Sacramento will get a chance to hear the news songs from “Change,” which will be released on May 5.
“In many ways, we’ve returned to the work we were doing on our first album,” singer/songwriter cootdog said. “There’s a little bit more of an effort to write songs about social matters and progressive changes.”
Songs include “I’m Good,” a self-esteem-boosting song about women, “Cry No More,” which is about battling depression,” “Change,” which supports progression, the self-explanatory “Trouble in the World,” and “Sticky Situation,” which calls for the legalization of marijuana.
Thanks to the passage of California Proposition 64, the latter tune can now be a celebration song. However, the paradoxal election results bring further concern about trouble in the world. When Mystic Roots last appeared at Tahoe, it was Memorial Day weekend and the band was on its “Bern It Down” tour.
Cootdog is happy to voice his opinion even if some listeners might not agree with it.
“When Mystic Roots started, we were voicing out against the oppression that we were feeling in the Bush administration and it just doesn’t make sense to me to try so hard to resonate with everyone as opposed to really touching on the issue,” he said. “That could motivate the few to change as opposed to just keeping everybody happy and not rocking the boat.
“So we were very outspoken about the support for Bernie Sanders. I don’t think it’s too late (for America). They say hindsight is 20-20. So hopefully that means in 2020 we can correct our problem.”
Cootdog grew up in a Marin County household where he heard the reggae sounds of Inner Circle, Toots and the Maytals and Jimmy Cliff. As he became older, he became interested the social issues addressed in reggae songs.
Ramirez nearly ended up in a career at a 9-to-5 job. But she changed direction after performing well at a reality television competition.
“’American Idol,’ that actually changed my life significantly,” she said. “Before that I had just graduated from college and I was kind of a career-focused person working in human resources at a biotech company. I felt validated as a singer to get that far. It sparked my desire to do this more professionally.”
She was signed by an agency and joined Mystic Roots before the band had released its second album.
From 2006-2010, Mystic Roots was Pato Banton’s backing band.
“It was reggae boot camp for us,” cootdog said. “It was the big leagues playing for one of the greatest.”
Banton ends performances with a prayer circle. His attitude about social consciousness influenced cootdog and his band.
“He would make sure everyone left that show with a buzz of positive change,” cootdog said. “As a lyricist, if people start singing along to my songs, then change occurs naturally.”
- Mystic Roots
With: Inna Vision
When: 10 p.m. Saturday, April 22
Where: BLU Nightclub, MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa
Tickets: $20 in advance or $25 on the day of the show
- Where else
April 19: McNear’s Mystic Theatre, Petaluma (with Katchafire)
April 20: The New Parish, Oakland
April 21: Ace of Spades, Sacramento (with Katchafire)