Plant trees for reggae Rootz Underground
Derek Spalding, Daily News
Published: Thursday, September 16, 2010

One of Jamaica’s most recognized reggae-rock bands encourages people to plant trees in their communities in exchange for free passes to live music shows.
Rootz Underground returns to Nanaimo during the group’s second visit to Canada and fans can have access to the performance at the Queen’s Hotel by proving that they planted a tree. It’s an idea that began when Rootz Underground members performed in Greece during a European tour.

The locals had planted an olive tree for the band and in order for the band members to return to the right tree in future visits, they identified it on a global positioning system. After that, they took the idea further and started planting their own trees in the communities they visited while touring the world. The idea then blossomed when fans were invited to grow their own as well.

The band regularly receives photos of people standing next to their newly-planted trees, according to lead guitarist Jeffrey Moss-Solomon.

“It’s a lot of fun and it’s a good cause,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of tree, we just encourage people to plant more.”

The six-person band began as a four-piece back in 2000. Moss-Solomon started jamming with Charles Lazarus on guitar, Colin Young on bass and Stephen Newland singing. As the group toured the small, underground clubs in Kingston, they started garnering attention. Admittedly, the technical part of the music took time to evolve, but they all believed in the sound and the lyrics they had composed, according to Moss-Solomon.

The musicianship of the group accelerated when keyboardist Paul Smith and drummer Leon Campbell joined in later years.

“The vibes are very good right now, so hopefully this will be the configuration that we have for a long time,” Moss-Solomon said.

Rootz Underground first released an EP Lightning Theory in 2007 before launching the band’s first full-length album Movement the following year. They then put out Alive, a free live album that people could download off the Internet. That project was popular worldwide, particularly in Europe, according to Moss-Solomon.

This latest tour will promote the newest album Gravity, which is not released on CD in North America yet, but a digital version is available online.

Everyone has a week to plant a tree and send their photos to the band. Check out the website www.rootzunderground.com. The show is on Sept. 23 and starts at 8 p.m.

Derek Spalding is a reporter and columnist for the Daily News. He can be reached at DSpalding@nanaimodailynews.com.

© The Daily News (Nanaimo) 2010