About IRIE SOL: Erupting out of the Twin Cities and Eau Claire with a musical blend that reflects diverse band members–who hail from Kingston, Jamaica; Providence, RI; Chicago, IL; Seattle, WA; Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN; Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls, 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 had the good fortune to share bills with 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 debut CD, Solstice, on iTunes.
What a great year! We were blessed to share bills with The Wailers, Stephen Marley, Morgan Heritage, Bret Michaels, and Warrant. We played gigs on the Atlantic Ocean, Lake Superior, The Mississippi, the Chippewa/Eau Claire Rivers, the Wisconsin River, and the Providence River (Rhode Island).
We also got to rock/reggae out at some great events, festivals, and concert series: RAGBRAI (Mason City, IA), Bayfront Reggae Festival (Duluth, MN), Sounds Like Summer Concert Series (Eau Claire, WI), Music on the Square (Wausau, WI), Baystock (Bayfield, WI), and Whispering Pines Reggae Fest (Osseo, WI).
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 with a British salsa band, an a cappella group with Pete Mitchell and Neil Robins of No More Kings, sang Handel's Messiah at the New Zealand Embassy (Washington, DC) with a touring choir and orchestra from Oxford University, 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). 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.
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, beatbox
Junior Williams - Lead Vocals, Bongos