Date: Sunday, May 30th, 2015
Line Up: J Boog, The Hot Rain Band, Westafa
Venue: Hawthorne Theatre. Portland, OR
Live: J Boog @ Hawthorne Theatre. 5-30-15
Following his appearance on stage with SOJA at the 2015 California Roots Festival, J Boog was eager to get back on the road with The Hot Rain Band and Westafa for the second leg of the Keep Di Road Dusty Tour. The Hawaiian artists pulled in to Portland on Saturday, May 30th as the line began to form for the sold out show at the Hawthorne Theatre.
As I sat down to write my recap I tuned in to Big Koa’s Backyard on Island 98.5 and was not surprised to hear “Lonely Days” by Fiji featuring the Wash House Music recording artist.
I would like to start with a confession. I began writing for The Pier to cover the ska and punk bands that come through town and my knowledge of reggae was limited. I tried to immerse myself in the music by jumping in feet first. Luckily living on O’ahu provided me with the opportunity to get to know many of the island bands where I first heard the name J Boog.
While visiting home in San Diego for the holidays in 2013 I met photographer David Norris for the first time at the House of Blues in San Diego. Norris said, “you’re interviewing J Boog” and I was able to sit down with the singer for my first artist interview for The Pier. I did not know much about him or Wash House Music so needless to say I made a donkey of myself. It has been over a year and a half and I have recognized the error of my ways and could not wait to hear the sweet island sounds of J Boog along with the pure, unadulterated talent of The Hot Rain Band.
It was the first scorcher I have experienced in PDX with temperatures reaching the high 80s. J Boog was sitting outside relaxing before the gig and he introduced himself. My anxiety subsided as I realized he has long since forgotten about my pitiful interview skills.
Big Koa must have known what I was writing about because “Chocolates and Roses” by The Green began to play.
We had a quick chat about the islands and how he was itching to get back on the road with The Hot Rain Band. I mentioned meeting him back in San Diego with The Green to which he replied with nothing but reverence. Getting on tour with The Green again is definitely high on J Boog’s priority list. After a few minutes it was time for him to get inside for his sound check.
I was starting to think Big Koa was in my living room when J Boog’s “Let Me Love You” immediately followed.
Anuwatu, J Boog’s manager extraordinaire, met me outside. Along with the Hawthorne Theatre’s sound and stage guru, Lauren, we talked about weird tattoos and the different characters that attend concerts. The Hawthorne Theatre is known primarily as a punk and hardcore venue so the security and sound staff really did not know what to expect. Wash House always treats The Pier like family and this night was no different. Before getting our media credentials squared away, Anuwatu described his eventful life as a “fat vegetarian.”
Hawai’i-native and Los Angeles-based Westafa served as deejay and master of ceremonies for the evening. Westafa is also cousins with Keoki Badiang, The Pier’s Portland photographer, making this a night about ohana. Westafa warmed up the predominately Polynesian crowd with his mix before introducing The Hot Rain Band.
Not only is The Hot Rain Band known for their extensive tour history with J Boog, they are widely regarded as one of the fastest growing bands with their rock-reggae inspired original music. The synergy between Hot Rain on and off the stage makes it no wonder J Boog takes them on the road.
Drummer Leslie Ludiazo spoke of the music on the island and how much it has grown in a short period of time. He mentioned the random opening of The Republik on O’ahu as a catalyst that brought major acts to the islands on a regular basis.
The Hot Rain Band left the stage to prepare for their set with J Boog and Westafa once again took over the tunes. The heat that Hot Rain brought turned the Hawthorne Theatre into a tropical sauna. This was the perfect opportunity to pick up the J Boog “Jack Daniels” shirt and Hot Rain hat before the band took off. I had my sights set on the shirt with J Boog’s message to the Thirty Meter Telescope. The in-your-face middle finger with “We Are Mauna Kea” written on his hand was obviously a popular choice amongst Polynesians because only Large and Small sized tees remained. I rushed to put my new merchandise in the car before the man of the hour graced the stage.
Prior to J Boog’s set the Wash House Family was mentally preparing for the show with a group prayer. A really young girl was waiting by the bus entrance and she appeared to have already had a few drinks and told me about being kicked out of the venue. Desperately trying to get the band’s attention before the show, she grabbed my arm and asked me if I would be her friend. I told her I am everybody’s friend and briskly walked away. Security guard Jordan did not seem surprised at the interaction and someone definitely mentioned the phrase white girl wasted.
That poor girl missed out on an energetic performance and it was a “you just had to be there” kind of set. Faces and camera phones lit up the sky as J Boog appeared on stage. I’ll never understand the desire to pull out a phone and watch a live concert through a tiny screen. I comprehend the need to hold onto memories for future viewing however there is nothing like experiencing a set list an artist has worked so hard putting together with two eyes and no filter.
The extensive set included jams like “Leaving With Me,” “Sunshine,” and “Mary Jane” along with a slew of solo infused jams. J Boog paid homage to his friends in SOJA with “Easier” and the Common Kings with “No Other Love.” There was a string of ganja-related tracks (which I’m sure pleased this Oregon crowd) including the aforementioned “Mary Jane” followed by “Bomb Budz” and “Let It Blaze.” And of course the night was not complete without “Let’s Do It Again” as a hana hou (encore).
J Boog, Westafa, and The Hot Rain Band surely left a mark on the crowd and there was nothing but laughter, talking story, and kapu aloha after the concert. I asked J Boog the one artist he would like to tour with and he responded immediately with Damian Marley. We could only hope to see an event that sees those two powerhouse performers together.
There are plenty of dates available on the Keep Di Road Dusty Tour so be sure to get your tickets before they sell out and watch your alcohol consumption to avoid getting kicked out and missing your opportunity for a solid, well-put-together performance by some of the hardest working artists in the business. Also, be on the lookout for a new J Boog album dropping later this summer tentatively titled Wash House Ting.
And so concluded one of the best birthday weekends this writer could ask for. J Boog, The Hot Rain Band, and Westafa loaded the trailer and continued on their mission to bring aloha to the Western United States. The tour bus drove away and left nothing but a large cloud of dust in its wake.
J Boog Set-List
2.) Leaving With Me
3.) Break Us Apart
5.) Live Up
8.) No Other Love
9.) Every Little Thing
10.) Love Season
11.) Long Distance
12.) Run Up
13.) Musical Break Down
15.) Mary Jane
16.) Bomb Budz
17.) Let It Blaze
18.) Watch and Learn
19.) Waiting on the Rain
20.) Love Me
21.) Let’s Do It Again
J Boog Music Website
J Boog Music Facebook
The Hot Rain Band Facebook
Wash House Music Website
Article By: Blake Taylor
Photos By: Keoki Badiang
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