Shoko Blazeen was at Moe’s Alley one night watching Virgin Islands-based roots reggae band Midnite when he was struck with a profound feeling: I want to play this venue.
It was in 2012, and he was still relatively new in Santa Cruz. But in no time, he’d put together a band that played primarily reggae, which he called Blazeen. Less than a year after that, the band played the same Moe’s Alley stage.
“It happened pretty quickly,” Blazeen says. “It was just my ultimate spot to perform.”
Blazeen is now in its third iteration, and goes by the name Blazeen and Tribe. Before moving to Santa Cruz, Blazeen had been playing music for quite a while. Originally from Ghana, West Africa, he grew up around a wide variety of musical genres—one of which was reggae. After relocating to Akron, Ohio, he joined a friend’s band called Rhodes Street Rudeboys.
“Of all the western influences that were in Ghana, reggae definitely was the backdrop,” Blazeen says. “When I moved to the states, I gravitated towards reggae because it was the most familiar. I got a chance to explore a lot more different artists that I hadn’t been exposed to in Ghana. It’s kind of like the door was wide open when I got to the states.”
Blazeen and Tribe isn’t a strictly reggae band, though that is the most prominent influence. There are other elements in there, like hip-hop, Afrobeat and salsa.
“It’s a combination of all my different musical influences. Also different influences of other members of the band,” Blazeen says.
This third iteration is less than a year old, but Blazeen says that the lineup really clicks well. He plans to do a lot more gigging with them in 2019.
“There’s such a chemistry between us that it’s almost like we’ve been playing together for a long period,” Blazeen says. “There’s a tribal element involved with it. We connect very well. We come from different backgrounds, but once you hear that drum, bass and skank, it just transforms us into a whole different arena.”
INFO: 9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 13. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $9 adv/$12 door. 479-1854.