The House of David Gang will soon bring a little musical sunshine to the Coombs Rodeo Grounds’ hall. On Feb. 28, the Toronto-based reggae band will play at a Caribbean beach party hosted by the Coombs Hilliers Recreation and Community Organization (CHRCO).
“We thought, ‘It’s been a little grey. Why not have something that reminds us of summer,’” said Adrian Blake, events coordinator for CHRCO. “Everybody loves at least one Bob Marley song.”
The House of David Gang plays “positive roots reggae,” said Jay Cleary, who managed and played guitar with the group for five years and remains heavily involved though he now lives in New York.
“The performance is very positive… very uplifting,” he said. “We want them (the audience) to dance. Forget about the complexity of our lives for a few hours and dance.”
The group’s sound pays homage to classic ‘70s & ‘80s Jamaican reggae (such as that played by Bob Marley and the Wailers and other artists on Jamaica’s Studio One label) mixed with a modern rootsy Canadian feel. Cleary said this mix reflects Toronto’s multicultural diversity.
“They’re top notch,” said Blake, who heard the band in Errington a few years ago. “Their sound is authentic.”
According to Cleary, the House of David was formed by King Selah and Collin “JahLin” Edwards as a house band for an after-hours hot spot of the same name in Toronto for the city’s burgeoning reggae scene in the late 1980s to mid 90s. After the venue closed, the band added “Gang” to their name and started playing with an ever changing lineup of musicians.
“We call the band a gang because it has a big membership,” said Cleary.
“We have pockets of musicians we drop in on,” said Cleary. “It’s a collective.”
He also said the the fluidity was “out of necessity.”
“We look for the best musicians; however, due to their schedules, it can be difficult to get one person for each and every show,” he said. “We moved toward a system of a collective as our core was changing gig to gig.” He also said that show requirements — some gigs ask for a horn section, others want back-up singers, etc. — contributed to the fluidity.
For the Coombs show, Cleary said that Selah and Edwards will be joined by Fred Locks, Rasta Reuben and possibly others.
Before the House of David Gang hits the stage, Blake said that there will be a local opening act.
Jamaican food, like jerk chicken and rum punch, made by CHRCO volunteers will also be available for purchase throughout the night, as will other concession/bar items, said Blake. The venue is only able to accept cash.
If you plan to indulge or simply feel like dancing the night away, the caribbean party also includes a sleepover in the hall. “It’s a little cold for camping,” said Blake, who added that outdoor spaces for tents and trailers are available nonetheless. Lodging is included in the price of a ticket, but guests have to bring their own sleeping bag, mat and pillow. A pancake breakfast will be available for purchase in the morning. “It should be fun,” said Blake.
Tickets for the dance are $20 and can be purchased at the Coombs General Store, Arbutus Music in Nanaimo, Cranky Dog Music in Parksville, Cruiser’s Grill in Whiskey Creek and Alberni Colour in Port Alberni.
As this is a licensed event, tickets will not be sold to minors.Doors open at 7 p.m. with music starting around 8:30 p.m.