Junior Williams, Irie Sol's founder, was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, with roots up in the hills of St. Mary. A child when he attended Bob Marley's funeral, he was profoundly moved and inspired to perpetuate Bob's message of peace, love, and hope through music "to keep da fire burnin.'" He moved to America with the dream of starting a band that would fuse the genres indigenous to his native island (reggae, dancehall, ska, and dub) with traditional American music forms (hip hop, funk, soul, rock, and jazz). The result is what he dubs (pun intended) “Alternative World Music,” which acknowledges its roots and routes in the World and Alternative genres, and serves to embody a sense of global unity through music. Junior brings to the stage a powerful presence and authentic Jamaican chatting and DJing that truly define the flavor and purpose of the band. After attending Jamaica College in Kingston, Williams studied art at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI, where he performed with Massai and toured with his band Rude Boy Posse. He formed Irie Sol with Kevin Zappa after moving to Eau Claire, WI, from Santa Fe, New Mexico via Oregon and Washington.
Joel Pace got a crash course in hip hop while growing up in the city of Providence, Rhode Island. His love of rhymes and beats earned him a BA in English and Music from Providence College and masters and doctorate from Oxford University, UK. A professor who publishes and teaches about literature, music, and culture across the "Black Atlantic," his college courses include one on hip hop. He draws on his diverse education and experience to engage the crowd with singing, freestyling, trumpet, beatboxing, and if you're really nice to him, BREAKDANCING!! Before Irie, he performed Handel's Messiah at the New Zealand Embassy (Washington, DC) with Oxford's University College Choir, recorded Faure's Requiem with the St. Paul Cathedral Choir (MN), was conducted by composer Randall Thompson in a concert with the Christ Church Cathedral Choir (Hartford, CT), sang in a British salsa band, and an a cappella group with Pete Mitchell and Neil Robins of No More Kings. He is honored to be in Irie Sol and loves meeting so many great people and seeing the beautiful Midwest through the band's shows. You can learn more about Joel's other music project, Eggplant Heroes, by clicking the link.
About IRIE SOL: Erupting out of the Twin Cities with a musical blend that reflects diverse band members–who hail from Kingston, Jamaica; Nova Scotia, Canada; Providence, RI; Detroit, MI; Minneapolis, MN; and the Chippewa Valley of Wisconsin–Irie Sol delivers authentic Jamaican chat/DJing and soaring, soulful melodies backed by blazing bebop horns, wailing guitar, and tight drum and bass.
Irie Sol has played shows in support of The Wailiers, Stephen Marley, Morgan Heritage, The Meditations, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Tech N9ne, Sevendust, Quiet Riot, Bret Michaels, and Warrant. Irie Sol’s music can be enjoyed at live shows throughout the midwest, on many radio programs, and by downloading the new CD, Solstice, on iTunes.
Irie Sol has a uniquely talented cast of performers-
Lars Nelson - Lead Vocals
Angelo Williamson - Bass
Yusef Kazemzadeh - Guitar
Gregory Manning - Guitar
Tom Krochock - Trumpet
Kurt Fischer - Keys
Sean Smitty Smith - Drums
Rhys Leroux - Sax
Miguel Hurtado - Drums
Mario Dawson - Drums
DJ LEGGS - Wheels of Steel/ Breakdancing
Matthew Rongstad - Saxophones , flute
Babatunde Thomas - Saxophone
Omari Thomas - Saxaphone, Trumpet
Joel Pace - Lead Vocals, trumpet
Junior Williams - Lead Vocals, percussion