The Expanders growing roots with classic reggae music

John Asher plays drums for the Expanders.
John Asher plays drums for the Expanders. Photo by Josue Rivas.

The Expanders are reggae scholars.

What started as a duo in 1999 has, well, expanded to a quintet that will make its Lake Tahoe debut Friday in the Crystal Bay Casino Red Room.

A rising roots band from Los Angeles, the Expanders revel in conscious lyrics, driving melodies and sweet harmonies in the spirit of the early days of reggae. Even the group’s name evokes the monikers of classic bands such as the Mighty Diamonds, the Heptones and the Gladiators.

The Expanders have a new management company, new record label (Easy Star Records) and its third album, “Hustling Culture,” debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Reggae Album chart. “Hustling Culture” is the band’s second record produced by Sergio Rios of the group Orgone.

“We felt like it’s our best effort thus far,” drummer John Asher said. “(Songwriter-guitarist) Devin (Morrison) has obviously grown and this reflects his maturity and growth.”

Each member was born, raised and educated in Los Angles, although Asher’s parents were from Jamaica.

Reggae surrounded Asher when he was a child, but his early music of choice was gospel and jazz.

“The older I grew, the more cognitive I became of what I had been exposed to. I’d say, ‘Oh, I know this music. I even know the lyrics. I used to sing them in church.’ It was comforting to me.

“I’ve grown to really love the Ethiopians, the Gladiators and Bob Marley and the Wailers.”

Asher is especially influenced by the Wailers’ pioneering drummer with a distinguishable style, Carlton Barrett.

The Expanders are the product of the burgeoning LA reggae scene. Bassist Chiquis Lozoya, Asher’s longtime rhythm section partner with Irie Beats, recruited him to join the Expanders about seven years ago.

“We are all really driven at pursuing our goal and articulating our emotions and our feeling of our music and this type of music,” said Asher, who added that this is a seminal time for reggae.

“It seems like reggae as a whole, as a brand of music, or genre, if you will, is growing and transitioning to something that it hasn’t ever been. In the pop world in the last 10 years I’ve seen so many hit songs that have reggae nuances or are straight-on reggae tracks.

“The Sublime stream (with California reggae) is permeating as well. So from my world view, it seems with all of those things going on that reggae is happening and booming in America and worldwide as well. The possibilities are endless to where the new roots will grow.”

Related story: Mike Love making name for himself in reggae world. LINK

  • The Expanders
    When: 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16
    Where: Crystal Bay Casino Red Room
    Cover: free

 

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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