Message still matters for reggae band SOJA

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Loveland Reporter-Herald When Jacob Hemphill was younger, he knew he would do something great with his life, along with his closest friends, of course. Hemphill has accomplished his dream as a talented vocalist and guitarist with his Washington, D.C.-based band, SOJA, which will perform Sunday, May 10, at Hodis Half Note in Fort Collins.

Hemphill is living the idealized rock n roll fantasy along with longtime friends and band members Bob Jefferson, who plays bass and also sings lead vocals, percussionist Ken Brownell, drummer Ryan Berty and keyboardist Patrick OShea.

Were trying to get reggae back in the mainstream, reggae how it used to be when the message mattered, said Hemphill.

With a sound reminiscent of Bob Marley meets Sublime and a bit of rock n roll to boot, SOJA (Soldiers of Jah Army) appeals to a vast crowd with hits such as I Dont Wanna Wait, which is the bands symbolic interpretation of the current problems plaguing modern-day society.

We talk about issues that I think are important, explained Hemphill. Its just like a social commentary.

The band will be playing old and new music when it hits the Fort Collins stage for the first time.

Were trying to get the message and the music out as far as possible, and were doing a lot of dates on this tour that weve never done before, said Hemphill.

Also to be featured, in anticipation of the upcoming album Born in Babylon, which is expected to be released in late summer, are many new singles, including I Dont Wanna Wait, according to Elliot Harrington, band manager. Born to Babylon will be the bands third full-length album and its 11th release in all.

When we started out we were really rootsy and then we experimented with a couple of other things, but now we are getting back to doing more root stuff, said Hemphill. So I guess its kind of been a circle for us.

With profound lyrics, Hemphill and his band exude the essence of modern-day reggae and have found a foothold among fans with their soul-barring sound that likely will appease any music lover.

Were very energetic, said Hemphill. Its a really powerful show with a lot of emphasis on the live show itself.

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