Begun in 2014 by vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist Chris Alcantara and then-drummer Alex Smith, Salinas’ Rise Up mixes a smoky blend of roots reggae with California attitude for a style that falls closer to Bob Marley than Sublime. In other words, genuine reggae.
“When I was 17, I moved to Hawaii, and reggae is life over there,” says Alcantara. “So I fell in love with it there and brought it back with me.”
Soon after, bassist and melodica player Steve Moreno and lead guitarist Justin Prouty joined the band. Smith had to leave the band this year, but the remaining members found drummer Alex Cortez.
“We were absolutely blessed to have Alex,” Alcantara says. “He clicked so well, we all thought there was no way we can’t stick with this lineup and keep going.”
Armed with fresh momentum, Rise Up rushed to Aaron Rauber of Rauber Productions to record their self-titled debut EP, released in July. The four-track album is a powerhouse of socially conscious and thought-provoking lyrics melodically sailing on a smooth stream of classic reggae music. The songs were recorded live, capturing Rise Up’s infectious energy.
“I’ve seen other bands record [the instruments] separately,” explains Moreno. “I wasn’t expecting to record it all at once, so it was a fun experience.”
Rise Up is already hard at work writing a full-length album, which they hope to record sometime early next year. But even with their nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic, the members of Rise Up stay grounded by remembering why they choose to do it.
“My favorite thing is how we click,” Cortez concludes. “Not only how we play music together, but also how we bond together as friends.”
INFO: 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5. The Blue Lagoon, 923 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $5. 423-7117.