by Bill Batson
Nyack has its own super group. Playing from a reggae and ska song book, JLP and The Very Bad Ideas are drawn from different bands, including some well known figures on the local music scene. After rave reviews from gigs at Casa del Sol, Nyack Earth Day and some charity events at RoCA and Grace Church it is time you meet JLP and The Very Bad Ideas, introduced by the man who formed the band, Bob Timm.
Who are JLP and the Very Bad Ideas?
The Very Bad Ideas is a new assembly of Nyack musicians who all share a love of foundation era reggae music, all the pre-Rasta, 60s/70s sounds of rocksteady, ska and old school, pre-digital reggae. It’s myself, Bob Timm, on piano, Jeff Rubin and Jason “Big Dread” Smith on guitars, Joanne Louis-Paul on bass, Brian Bongo Davis on drums, and Jason Torres bringing it together out front on lead vocals. Key to the music we play is we all get microphones and try our best to get those sweet harmonies.
What are some of your other favorite reggae bands?
We love mixing it up with our Nyack reggae compadres in I Anbassa and the Word Sound Power Movement. The great thing about reggae is the universe is so diverse. If you ask all of us, you’ll get 6 different sets of favorites just from NY/NJ area.
My personal favorite New York bands are my brothers and sisters in the NYC ska/rocksteady family: The Slackers, Far East, The Frightnrs, Jah Point and Boomshot.
When did you develop a love for reggae?
I absorbed Bob Marley like everyone else in the modern world, but my entry point was more from Two Tone ska, then digging original Jamaican ska and coming at reggae from the early days. I love all the mashup from mid-60s/70s as all these studios popped up and they took soul/motown and rock from the pop charts and blew it up with Jamaican flavor.
Did you ever attend the world famous Reggae Lounge in the lower east side?
No, I was still too suburb fanboy to hang there at its height. My favorite spots were Wetlands for regular ska/reggae bills and the Ritz to check bigger touring bands.
What was your first reggae band and what instrument did you play?
JLP And The Very Bad Ideas
Live at Olive’s
Thursday, June 27
Nyack has a new collective. The Reggae collective premiers on Thursday, June 27 at 8p at Olive’s. Supporting the release of 86 Supreme’s new banger 18 Strikes.
The Nyack Reggae Collective includes:
- I Anbassa
- JlP And The Very Bad Ideas
- Wadada the Love Movement
Brooklyn based 86 Supreme brings high intensity reggae and hip hop. There arrival occasions the first ever of the Nyack Reggae Collective.
Olive’s is located 118a Main Street, Nyack
I’ve been drumming most of my life, and my first reggae-flavored band was a ska band called The DeFactos. We were one of a gazillion NY ska bands in the Moon Ska Records community that flourished here most of the 90s. The New York Times had declared ska music as “the sound of New York“and you couldn’t throw a piece of corn in the city on a weekend without hitting a checker-shirted trumpet player in the head.
What are the origins of Ska?
Original ska music is essentially Jamaican jazz music. It developed in early 60s around the time Jamaica was moving toward independence and musicians were looking to forge a distinct new Jamaican sound of their own. It’s a brilliant mix of jazz, New Orleans, Latin and Caribbean flavors. Ska then evolved into rocksteady style and then reggae, and has its own distinct branches in British Two Tone and 90s/Third Wave.
What are some of the challenges of getting a band off the ground?
The toughest is always scheduling and communications, especially when all of you are balancing music and life. What makes The Very Bad Ideas especially enjoyable is that we are friends and neighbors first, and we just happen to all love reggae. It’s a true Nyack-So-Nyack story.
In JLP you play keyboards, but your were formerly a percussionist. How was that transition?
Still in progress. Piano is essentially a percussion instrument, especially for the music we play, so my focus is mainly on learning a lot of chord inversions and then finding the right style of chops, bubbles and flavors for each tune.
Horns anytime soon?
Possibly. We’re mainly a guitar-based sounds, but would love to get some extra flavors in there soon.
Any plans to take the show on the road?
No plans to “get in the van” regularly, but we’ve got some offers we’re working on to take the show out of Rockland later in the summer. We’re booking private parties, festivals, day and evening gigs. Excited to see what mess we can get into over the next year, and just mainly enjoy the Very Bad Ideas vibe.
What’s in the water at Casa? There seems to be so much great music coming out of there.
Casa del Sol is so great for music in Nyack. Tom Lynch supports all different styles of music and art, sharing the Casa space with the community. And it’s become a beacon for bringing more people into town.
How often do you rehearse?
We try to meet up once a week, either for full band rehearsal or just acoustic guitars and vocals.
Is it true you have Bongo Fries after every performance?
No, I think Bongo is quite happy to switch gears and just play the drums when it’s VBI time.
Have you seen Bongo skank?
Mostly on his Facebook selfies. We keep him chained to the drum stool so everyone else can dance.
Is it true that Jeff Rubin builds pedals that make grown men cry?
Jeff Rubin is a musical treasure chest in so many wonderful ways. His artistry with Jeff Rubin Electronics is like a whole other level of magic.
Tell me the journey of Big Dread to Nyack?
Big Dread comes down to us from the mountain. Bear Mountain by way of Japan, Texas and Cape Cod. He brings us this whole other energy from countless reggae journeys around the world and I’ve heard rumors that local high school kids are already forming some kind of “spirit animal” cult around him.
Who’s out front?
Jason Torres, a great afro-cuban percussionist, and has a great voice with a lot of sweetness and style.
The JLP is the name of your bass player. How did she join the band?
We have Dave Reiss to thank. He plays bass for I Anbassa, and I asked him for another reggae bass in the area. Joanne was his first and immediate reference and she’s a powerhouse on both the bass and when she takes the mic.
What is your favorite song in your set?
Selections like My Conversation or the Answer. “Riddim” that brings all the best elements of what we do together.
Favorite Reggae lyric
“One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain.”
I want to avoid a knee-jerk Bob Marley reference, but he’s hard to beat.
Favorite Reggae group
Favorite show you’ve attended
Favorite recent show was seeing Toots Hibbert front and center for his acoustic show in New York. All-time favorite probably Skavoovie tours from early 90s where you had all history on stage in one night: the original Skatalites, members of The Specials and The Beat, and some of the best American ska legends. Those kinds of shows are never gonna happen again.
I understand you are a poet, so I’ll let you conclude this interview in verse
A Nyack Reggae Haiku
For pure joy run come
dance with JLP and the
Very Bad Ideas
You can follow Nyack’s “Homegrown” reggae/ska band on instagram @jlpandtheverybadideas or on Facebook.
An artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “JLP And The Very Bad Ideas” © 2019 Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.