Live: Fortunate Youth & Simpkin Project (12-8-11)

Live: Fortunate Youth & Simpkin Project (12-8-11)

Date: Thursday, December 8th, 2011
Line up: Fortunate Youth & The Simpkin Project
Location: Martini Ranch. Scottsdale, AZ

Some might say that reggae music all sounds the same, but when listening to Fortunate Youth and The Simpkin Project share the stage together, all barriers and walls of “typical reggae music” are nonexistent. Scottsdale, Arizona, was in for a classical treat of what the melting pot of true roots-rock-reggae should sound like.

Reggae veterans The Simpkin Project, led by Phil Simpkin (lead vocals and guitar) and Shawn Taylor (Keyboards and vocals) were interchanging their voice with ease as the melodies and backing rhythm electrified the nightclub. Bodies were moving and the crowd swayed with their loved ones within arms reach.

The highlight of Simpkin’s set was their song “Everything You Want”. Honestly, the song title says it all! From the opening guitar solo of Phil Simpkin, to the backbeats of Sean Kennedy (drums), the entire reggae package is present within this one song. The Simpkin Project exemplifies everything you want and need in a soulful, uplifting reggae song. The lyrics are easily recognizable and the Scottsdale nightlife absorbed them into their souls and began singing along in one voice.

Although, just that one song brings out the purity within their music, “Only Free” carries much of the same from the professors of reggae. The simple one-drop beat allows Eric Riegler (bass) and Sergio Sandoval (percussions) to channel the greatness of The Wailers in The Simpkin Project’s live performance.

However, just as the crowd was filling into the club, it was time for Los Angeles’ South Bay reggae rockers Fortunate Youth to grace the stage with their roots and dub style. It was only appropriate to begin their show with two songs titled “Reggae Radio” and “Skankin”. As soon as Dan Kelly (vocals) grabbed the microphone, he showed the crowd just how to move to the music, not only with his feet, but with his bellowing voice. There truly are not many lead singers who can compare with the deep-hearted lyrics and amplifying sound of Kelly’s voice.

Yet, Fortunate Youth’s sound is far more vast than just a soulful singer. The bass lines are bumping, from front to back, while shaking the room. Fans got a taste of that fact during “Earthquake” and “Push”. Another intricacy within Fortunate Youth revolves are around the true musicianship within their band. Nearly everyone in the band was switching instruments throughout their set.

When Fortunate Youth opened up, Travis put his hands to work on the congas and bongos, while Corey began on the bass and Jered started out on the keys. Midway through their set Dan Kelly and Jordan (drums) were the only members who had yet to rotate on stage.

None of the band members in Fortunate Youth had difficulty picking up a different instrument after each song, and they all seemed to enjoy the variety during their set. The purity of that sentiment was felt throughout the venue once Fortunate Youth brought out local reggae artist Tony Culture for an extended version of “Trippin”. Both Culture and Kelly intertwined their verses in a true jam session style. It was clean, precise and sounded like it wasn’t their first meeting of the minds, sharing the stage. Then again, musicians show their true spirit and love for the sound when the bright lights are on.

With the crowd screaming for “Sweet Love”, Fortunate Youth’s latest hit song, it was only proper to close out their show in Arizona with the unanimous fan-favorite. Everyone in the crowd paired off with their significant other, mixing a gentle skankin’ vibe with the slow two-step sway of pure “Sweet Love”.

Fortunate Youth knows how to invigorate a crowd with their music, and that is half the battle in the music industry. The sound coming from the stage was uplifting and left the fans leaving with a sense of rejuvenated pride and love for true roots-rock-reggae music. Then again, that is the idea behind a Fortunate Youth show.

– Article by: Kris Siuta
– Photos by: IrieAZPhoto

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