While you’re groovin’ to the tunes, there’s far more than the rhythm in the message of most Reggae based music. Gueren White (Gman) says, “People are just one facet in an intricate web of life and we depend on this web of life for survival.” This understanding is what drives Woven Roots and the core of their purpose in their music. We are entertained; we are entranced; we are moved by the vibrations of the music but at an even deeper level the impact of the songs’ meaning is what often drives our love for most types of Reggae.
Woven Roots will perform at the 2014 One Love One Heart Reggae Festival that takes place in Sacramento, California on Aug. 29-31. Their body of work will bring a new aspect to the annual festival in its sixth year. Rastafarian philosophy has been referenced in the lyrics and Jah, Weed, the Word have been heard in some of the vocals soaring over the river’s edge to enchant the attendees who are growing in number each year. However, Woven Roots has a slightly different slant in their approach than many of those on the billing. Different doesn’t mean not as good nor better nor conflicting. It means they are unique in their spirit and uniqueness is what makes a festival special when dozens of performing artists will be appearing hour after hour for a two or three day period.
Harmonizing roots reggae and dub styles, the band speaks to the human heart to recognize their dependence on the Earth’s resources that can not forever endure the abuse of “exploitative and destructive technologies of advanced industrial economies.” The Humboldt County roots of the band run deep in their appreciation of all forms of life so that an abundance of their songs focus on “respect and reciprocity for the natural systems on Earth.” Woven Roots says that perhaps “the best way to respect and love your fellow human beings is to preach love and respect for all life and for all things.” This ideology is best summed up in the title track off their latest album "Respect All Things."
Woven Roots music is about communicating positive “change to achieve environmentally sound methods for providing our basic human needs of food, energy, and shelter.” That is a mouth full but the message fuels their desire to create music that reaches out to the listener. Their work draws the ear, the body, the heart and soul to hear what will encourage respect for life. When listeners share in the true vibe, they can’t help but feel good about the Earth and appreciating your home is what makes you care for it, nurture it, and protect it.
GMAN Gueren White
The band got started through their associations in Humboldt County as well as their mutual love for Reggae. Gueren White (aka Gman) started playing the guitar at the age of ten and took lessons in middle and high school. He says “I learned enough theory to understand the basics and the rest I do with my ear. I learned note for note all my favorite guitar solos growing up, especially David Gilmour's from Pink Floyd.” His college years are when he really fell in love with Reggae and learned almost all of Bob Marley’s songs and started playing and singing them often. ‘Gman’ also played in a jam band which sometimes played Reggae.
Gueren eventually hooked up with an old friend from high school who just happened to buy some property in the same remote area where he was about to purchase. Travis B (Barter) listened to Reggae all the time with a particular liking for “all kinds of roots like Don Carlos, The Twinkle Brothers, Linville Thompson, Israel Vibration, The Gladiators and Steel Pulse.” They started getting together to jam with Gueren playing the guitar and Travis doing most of the singing. Their dream to start a Reggae band singing about “the life we were living, homesteading in the mountains and living sustainably” naturally followed and the pieces finally came together for the birth of Woven Roots. Gueren is now the band guitarist, co-songwriter and head of musical arrangement.
(From left to right Eliam Aquarian, Alex Antonio, Travis B (Barter), Gueren White (GMAN) and Tanasa Ras.)
Travis B (Barter)
Geuren and Travis B have turned their association and mutual passions into an ideal song writing formula with the help of the entire band. While Travis isn’t formally trained in music he is a natural talent with a good ear and a great voice. Gueren says he “has a real way with words.” And, he came from a family that loved music and had many friends in the music business including Booker T whose house Travis stayed at briefly as an infant.
Before their Reggae focus brought them together, Travis sang R&B and “wrote his own raps.” The lifelong experience of living close to nature and always singing as a boy eventually pulled him away from his earlier focus on Hip Hop and evolved into creating and singing Reggae inspired by his experiences with nature, growing his own food and hunting. Once he decided “he wanted to spread a message of love and respect for all things through Reggae music, there wasn’t any stopping him.”
Travis B is now the lead vocalist for Woven Roots and also contributes backup vocals, lyrics and songwriting. His songwriting includes the creation of works like Women of the Earth, Conscious Warrior, Positive Message, Letting Go, Edible Forest Garden and Future Generations that reveal some of the philosophy and orientation in titles alone. His tone is known to be both gravelly and richly melodic with the ability to sooth the listener while inspiring them with Reggae conscious lyrics.
Alex Antonio is the band member with the most formal music education. According to Gueren “he has the best understanding of music theory and the best ear.” Alex comes from a musical family with both parents being music teachers. He graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA with a background mostly in percussion. He was good at Marimba as well and these various skills brought him to perform in the Empire State Youth Orchestra and the Empire State Youth Percussion Ensemble that performed in Germany and the Czech Republic.
Alex plays the keyboards with Woven Roots, as well as percussion, since he was discovered by Travis B while filling in on keyboards at a Soul Majestic show in Willow Creek, CA. His desire to play keyboard in a Reggae band came to life through this chance encounter. He also provides backup vocals and is the producer and engineer.
Tanasa Ras is another band member who had music in the family with a father who is a drummer and a mother who introduced him to Reggae at the age of three or four when he attended his first concert featuring the Killer Bees out of Austin, Texas. An early starter indeed, he tackled the drums at the age of four, played throughout middle and high school and started his first band at the age of ten playing Rock, Reggae, Funk and Blues. By the age of 15 he was playing in clubs and festivals and by the age of 18 he began touring throughout the country.
Tanasa’s first touring experience was in the U.S. with the Reggae band 4Word from Hawaii. Following the 4Word tour, he toured playing with The Uprite Dub Orchestra, a Ska, Dub band and then a Reggae band from Hawaii called Freesound and many other bands over the years.
Tanasa says, “I have always been involved with music in one way or another my entire life.” This has led him to record on nine different albums with various groups including Reggae, Dub, Ska and Hip Hop. Reggae has always been a strong influence in his life and has, he says, “always continued to be tightly woven through my musical career.” Tanasa Ras joined Woven Roots after their first album, Storms of Change. He plays drums and percussion with Woven Roots and is also their studio engineer. He also professionally runs a sound company and music studio.
Eliam Aquarian has been immersed in music his entire life and has been playing for 22 years. He is self taught and started playing music in high school in Philadelphia. Through the ‘90s he played in numerous Indy Rock bands as guitarist and vocalist.
Originally from Hawaii, Eliam moved to Humboldt County in 2002 where he played the guitar in the local Reggae scene for years. He eventually took up the bass guitar and is now Woven Roots’ bassist and backup vocals. He has been with the group through four albums and three music videos and also plays with two other bands as lead guitarist – a Brazilian Funk band called “Rebel Tree” and a Psychedelic Rock band called “RxR.”
The multi talented group with Gueren White (Gman), Travis B (Barter), Alex Antonio, Tanasa Ras and Eliam Aquarian bring together a broad array of musical skills, experience and passion to weave their Woven Roots magic.
Woven Roots is created
Woven Roots was formed in 2006 in Humboldt with their fist show taking place in 2007 at a benefit for the Klamath River. Since then they have released three albums, Storms of Change, Foundation, and Respect All Things. Their fourth, Sound of the Earth, is scheduled to release this summer of 2014 and is being mixed by Tippy from Igrade records out of St. Croix. Their songs are available on I-tunes and cdbaby.com which includes their music video entitled "Amazon."
They have performed at numerous Reggae festivals and other venues since that time including Reggae on the River and performed as opening and back up for Army for two tours. Army says, "Woven Roots is a wonderful band; I have worked with them several times and anytime I do, I look forward. I highly recommend them!"
This will be the first year Woven Roots will perform at the annual One Love One Heart Reggae Festival which takes place on the river’s edge at Rio Ramaza Marina in Sacramento, CA on Aug. 30-31.