Add some Rasta to your weekend | ParkRecord.com

Add some Rasta to your weekend

MATT JAMES, Of the Record staff

Danny Dred is the front man and guitar player for Rising Lion. Image courtesy of Rising Lion.

Each year, Mountain Town Stages books at least one reggae group for its spring concert series, and 2006 is no exception. While two bluesmen John Lee Hooker Jr. and Coco Montoya opened the series, Rising Lion will continue the series, offering its Rastafari sounds on The Canyons stage this Saturday.

The group comes as a part of The Canyons Spring Concert Series, which is presented by The Canyons Resort and Mountain Town Stages. The only performers returning to Park City, Rising Lion is a veteran of at least one past Mountain Town show. That, however, was not too recently.

"It’s been a while, maybe four our five years," said Danny Dred, the group’s founder and frontman.

But Dred said the band is no stranger to the road and the West. Despite making its home in Florida, every year, the band heads out to the mountains and the West Coast for a road swing. This year, the group’s first show will be at The Canyons.

Speaking to The Park Record at midday Monday, Dred was about to head off down the road to Utah.

"We’ve toured every year for 14 years," he said.

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While band members have changed, and time has passed, Dred said Rising Lion which includes Dred on guitar, Don Belton behind the drums, Ras Dave on bass and Mark Jung at the keys remains dedicated to its music and spreading its Rasta message.

"Rasta is a thing that’s in you," said Dred. "It’s a feeling of one love and unity in your heart."

The Rasta movement, he added, is all about positive change and equality.

"Reggae," he noted, "is definitely the vehicle."

Rising Lion defines itself as dance oriented, conscious reggae with a fiery guitar.

Playing mostly originals, the band adds elements of funk, hip hop, blues and rock ‘n’ roll to its mix.

Growing up in Florida, Dred said he heard mostly pop songs growing up, until he got a bit older.

"I think [at] about 17, I discovered reggae and I discovered Jimi Hendrix," he said.

Those influences which launched him into his career are audible in Dred’s songs, which depart from the standard reggae beat to move at a hip hop pace or a jazz tempo.

Dred said the band’s cover songs also give a good example of how the group is willing to branch out. He said the songs range from Bob Dylan to the Allman Brothers.

"Our choice of cover tunes," he noted, "is very eclectic."

Dred also talked about the importance of the guitar to standard reggae, noting that Bob Marley always kept a blues guitar player in his band.

"There’s a special relationship between reggae and the blues guitar," concluded Dred. "It’s in the same spirit."

Ultimately, Rising Lion combines its rock influences, reggae sounds and spiritual messages into a complete package.

"We don’t compromise the music or the message," said Dred.

In the coming months the band will release a new studio album, "American Dread," the group’s first since 2001. And after the studio release, another project is on the horizon.

"We’ve been recording all the live shows we’ve played, "said Dred, "so when we get done with the studio album, we’ll do a live one."

The group’s show at The Canyons and the rest of their Western tour will only provide more material. And while Dred said that, coming from a state known for both its warmth and flatness, he’s not too big of a skier, but he did say he was looking forward to the concert.

"Basically," he said, "people can expect to dance and have a good time."

Rising Lion will play in The Forum at The Canyons Resort on Saturday, April 1 from 3:15-4:45 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public. For more information about the event, visit http://www.mountaintownstages.com or http://www.thecanyons.com.

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