Editor’s Letter: 2012 Year in Review

Editor’s Letter: 2012 Year in Review

2012 Year In Review

More was the word for 2012. More music, more classic concert photos, more exclusive interviews than ever before, more private meet-and-greets with your favorite artists and even the debut of The Pier’s Live Acoustic Series. Once again, The Pier delivered to our subscribers the annual Regional Sampler for FREE and content that no other publication provides. All of these special features we have premiered and released have been for you, the fans! After all, The Pier billed this past calendar year as the “Year of the Fans”. As our readership increases, so do the hallmark traits we deliver with routine.

So, let’s see how the past year lived up to hype in all facets of the Reggae-Rock genre…

Spotlight on Reggae-Rock

2012 commenced with brand spanking new albums from some of the reggae-rock genre’s most notable acts. More is always better, and Rebelution delivered their album Peace of Mind on the second Tuesday of 2012.

Rebelution spanned all genres, not just reggae, by releasing a prodigious triple album, including the full-length studio album, stripped down acoustic versions and extended dub renditions of The Pier’s recipient of 2012 Album of the Year.

Peace of Mind debuted at #13 on the Billboard Top 200, #1 on the Billboard Reggae Chart and has remained in the top 10 since the January 10th, 2012 release. Peace of Mind debuted at #1 on the Independent Album Chart, #8 on the Digital Album Chart and #4 on the iTunes Top Albums Chart (All Genres).

Most recently, Rebelution’s Peace of Mind went wire-to-wire in 2012, finishing the year at #1 on the Billboard Reggae Chart after hitting that mark almost a year ago to the day. Throughout the last calendar year, Rebelution secured their stature amongst the likes of current reggae-rock virtuosos 311, Slightly Stoopid and Pepper, with visions and a blueprint for a bright future, as well.

Perhaps, one is reading that above line regarding upper echelon bands within the reggae-rock community and notice the glaring omission of SOJA. Don’t worry, The Pier did not forget what SOJA produced and delivered in 2012. If there is one band that has grown in leaps and bounds over the past twelve months, certainly it is SOJA.

Not only did their full-length studio album, Strength To Survive, connect with millions across the globe, but SOJA also attempted to touch every single continent with their live show. Playing over 150 shows in over a dozen countries, SOJA has been following this road map to two consecutive years being named The Pier’s Artist of the Year.

SOJA was honored with the “Artist of the Year” title, but bands like Slightly Stoopid, The Dirty Heads, Rebelution, Groundation, The Black Seeds, Stick Figure, even the return or Rebirth album from Jamaican reggae legend, Jimmy Cliff and countless others artists’ releases have nothing to be discouraged about.

Each of the aforementioned artists charted in the Top 5 on both iTunes Reggae Albums and Billboard’s Top Reggae Albums. These record sales are not just stemming from Southern California or the United States, many of these bands have become established international touring outfits, performing in Europe, South America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. There is no question the demand for reggae music is spreading, and it starts behind closed doors in the recording studio.

However, one area that American Reggae-Rock bands were slapped in the face were the annual Grammy nominations for 2012. Some Jamaican reggae and dancehall purists might not have an issue with the nominees like the very deserving Jimmy Cliff, Ziggy Marley, Sean Paul, Toots and the Maytals and Sly & Robbie.

One has to wonder, when will it be time for an American based reggae band to get the proper credit in the appropriate setting, like the Grammy’s?

2012 might have been the best opportunity to date of grasping that nomination in one of these bands respective hands. Rebelution, SOJA, Groundation and Stick Figure all put out stellar studio albums, while the Grammy’s nominated Live albums instead. If the spotlight is not on United States based Reggae-Rock bands now, when will it be?

Reggae-Rock Visual Appeal

Although, within the past year, the American based reggae-rock bands have started to receive more high profile media spots, from the big bands to the rising stars, displaying the true depth of this genre. It wasn’t long ago that maybe five to ten bands commanded the attention of all the fans in the genre. Now, just in our weekly Show Locator the amount of featured bands included reaches the century mark with routine, performing at some of the premiere venues across the country.

But the bright lights and full attention has not been placed on these bands solely at live shows, these bands are in demand by the A-List lineup on late night talk shows in Los Angeles and New York City. Just to name a few, SOJA was featured on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Slightly Stoopid, The Dirty Heads and Matisyahu all performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live, with Matisyahu previously performing on David Letterman.

These top-tier bands have also commanded attention with the full-scale production budget of music videos. Five or ten years ago, it was rare to see a music video from a band not named Sublime, 311 or Pepper. Now, in the past year, bands like Rebelution, Iration, Anuhea, Seedless and others debuted their very first music videos in their respective careers.

The Pier also joined that esteemed club, premiering the first ever installment of The Pier’s Live Acoustic Series with the debut artist being Easy Star Records’ acoustic specialist, Cas Haley. That particular video is just the beginning of plenty more stripped down artists to perform in our series, just for you!

The Pier looks forward to bringing you some of the best live, acoustic bands and artists within the Reggae-Rock-Acoustic community.

Bringing the Community to You

The Pier has been your number one resource for the latest and greatest news in the Reggae-Rock-Acoustic community for the last five years. Consistently, we are fortunate to have the opportunity to release unreleased, FREE music from the scene’s best artists, and 2012 was no different.

With each Sunday coming and going, The Pier squeezed in 53 FREE downloads for your pleasure in 52 weeks of our Sunday exclusive 2012 MP3 Leak of the Week.

Along with free music, The Pier also released our annual Regional Sampler, this summer featuring the reggae-rock music of artists from Japan in our Japan Sampler. Many areas of the globe have been highlighted in our yearly FREE regional samplers & there is one large region with an abundance of musical talent that has yet to be featured, but 2013 could be the year!

With all this music, The Pier has found a way to go far deeper than the music and really connect with these artists on a personal level. Over the last calendar year, The Pier debuted new topic article features such as the Behind The Beat and our Backstage Story articles, bringing readers in depth insight into Jamaica’s Don Carlos and Rootz Underground, The Black Seeds from New Zealand, Passafire and
Easy Star All-Stars.

In our Behind The Beat feature, we wanted to put the spotlight on artists who were not always the center of attention, such as lead singers and frontmen, but true musical craftsman at their respective roles in the bands such as Jon “Jon Jon” Olazabal, the percussionist for The Dirty Heads and Todd Elrod, the drummer for the Mike Pinto Band.

The well will never run dry with the talent in this particular genre, and not all of them are singers or lyricists. So, it is our duty to bring you the most in depth content about all of your favorite artists and musicians. Over the past year The Pier has been grateful to interview more musicians than just the band’s lead singer and drummer, so look for plenty more Behind the Beat and Backstage Story features with your favorite musicians and favorite bands.

One thing that The Pier never takes for granted is access to shows. With that access, we were fortunate enough to be the first to break news regarding Iration’s NEW album, which is still yet to be released, but The Pier uncovered that news last May.

Rome Ramirez also gave The Pier an exclusive look inside his new solo project and touring with Sublime with Rome, both presently and in the future. The list of stars goes on and on, speaking with Nick Hexum, Jacob Hemphill, Eric Rachmany, Harrison Stafford, Anuhea and many others long before each respective artist released their studio album.

Before the fans heard the music coming out from their speakers, they read the words of their favorite artists describing how the album was produced from start to finish, what guest appearances were featured and even some behind the scenes stories only found on The Pier.

Editor’s Closing Word

In a single word, the “Year of the Fans” showed progress across the entire scene. A year ago on New Year’s Eve if someone said, “Jacob Hemphill and Bobby Lee of SOJA will shake Jay Leno’s hand after performing on the Tonight Show,” the validity of that statement most likely would have been questioned. However, that is exactly what unfolded in 2012.

Reggae-Rock progressed to a new level. Even the country’s fastest growing reggae specific music festival, California Roots Music & Arts Festival, is now entering its 4th edition, expanding from two days to three-full days of music in 2013. More importantly, this music is expanding, day by day. There are always new bands sprouting up and ready to be discovered. And, all the current bands fighting for recognition, fine tuning their recordings and writing brand new material, every artist is just trying to find their own way, and progress to their goals.

Jacob Hemphill spoke to The Pier last January describing SOJA’s path and the music scene’s progress: ” Everyone is kind of making their way down this road that there isn’t really a blueprint for… I think we are all trying to find our way. There is no real leader, there is just a few that have moved forward a little bit quicker, or maybe even not. It all depends on how you look at moving forward. Is moving forward ticket sales? Or is moving forward putting out the best album of the year? Or is moving forward putting reggae on television? I don’t know. We are all trying to get somewhere, but moving at our own paces.”

With each band that makes progress, The Pier strives for progress, as well. With each passing day in 2012, The Pier kept fans up to date across each continent with avid readers in Europe, Asia, South America, the South Pacific and even Africa! We are honored and privileged with your devotion to the music, this publication and our exclusive, special features!

The Pier staff looks forward to bringing you the latest and greatest insight from the Reggae-Rock-Acoustic genre in 2013!

Written By: Kris Siuta
Photos By: Bill Colbridge, David Norris & Kit Chalberg

Thank you for a great 2012! Watch some of The Pier’s favorite videos of the year…

Watch: Cas Haley – “Crazy Good Woman” The Pier’s Live Acoustic Series

Watch: SOJA – “Not Done Yet” The Pier’s 2012 Music Video of the Year

Watch: Slightly Stoopid – “Top Of The World” Official Music Video

Watch: Dirty Heads – “Spread Too Thin” Official Music Video

Watch: Rebelution – “Sky is the Limit” Official Music Video

Watch: Iration – “Porcupine” Official Music Video

View all of 2012’s 53 MP3 Leaks of the Week squeezed inside a 52 week calendar year by clicking the banner below

2012 Pier Awards! See who the nominees & winners were, voted for by YOU the fans! Click the banner..

2012 Lifetime Achievement Award went to 311! Click the banner to read more on 311’s impressive career