Occasionally, Pepper can use a pinch of smelling salts.
The trio from Kona, Hawaii, tops Saturday’s Lake Tahoe Reggae Festival showbill, which includes Don Carlos, Israel Vibration and Ky-Mani Marley.
“Are you kidding me?” Pepper drummer Yesod Williams exclaimed. “The whole deal is a bunch of reggae legends and we are more than honored to be a part of it, let alone headlining it. It’s like one of those things where a lot of these groups growing up I listened to. I’ve got to pinch myself for situations like this.”
The fourth-annual high-elevation event will be held for the second-straight year at the Hard Rock Hotel Arena, and most of the concertgoers will be on grass, with 10,000 square feet of sod installed for the show.
Williams, Kaleo Wassman (guitar and vocals) and Bret Bollinger (bass, vocals) started Pepper in 1997. While several reggae-ska-based bands spawned from the post-Sublime generation with a California reggae style, Pepper was influenced by a trio from Hawaii called Three Plus, which plays Jawaiian music, a hybrid of Hawaiian and Jamaican music.
Twenty years later, Pepper is a spicy as ever.
“It’s quite an accomplishment but it feels like we are just hitting our stride right now,” said Williams, who credits persistence as the band’s key to longevity.
“It’s been such a long, awesome road but with anything that long, it comes with speed bumps and road blocks that you navigate to get to the other side,” he said. “For a five-year span, we only released an EP. Now I really feel we are hitting our stride. We have the new album, ‘Ohana.’ ”
In Hawaiian culture, ohana means family, both by blood and society.
“We were friends and family long before we were in this band together,” Williams said. “Ohana is thicker than anything. It’s thicker than water, thicker than blood. That was there before the band was, so it always will be.”
Pepper influenced another group of Hawaiian natives, Iration, which headlined the Lake Tahoe Reggae Festival in 2015. Both bands are now based in California. Pepper’s studio is in Redondo Beach.
“I love Tahoe in the summertime,” Williams said. “Really good friends of ours, Iration, headlined it last year and they told us really good things about it. They had a blast. We can’t wait.”
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- Lake Tahoe Reggae Festival
Pepper, Ky-Mani Marley, Israel Vibration & Roots Radics, Don Carlos, Mike Love, Squarefield Massive, DJ Dinga and DJ Casta Rasta
When: 4 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20
Where: Hard Rock Hotel Arena, Stateline, Nevada
Tickets: General admission $55 or $70 on the day of the show. VIP $100