John Brown’s Body to play Steamboat Reggae Festival on Sunday |

John Brown’s Body to play Steamboat Reggae Festival on Sunday

Reggae Festival to hit Sweetwater Saturday

Luke Graham

John Brown's Body headlines Sweetwater Grill's Reggae Festival on Sunday. Doors open at noon with John Brown's Body going on at 7 p.m.

— Funny things can happen when a band has been around for nearly 20 years.

Musicians move on, bands separate and as old sounds transform, they become new fodder for critics.

The development inside John Brown's Body, a Northeast reggae-infused band, has followed this pattern.

The futuristic reggae band always has had a sound that maintains its existence near the tops of reggae charts and staged festivals across the country.

If the 2008 release of the band’s album "Amplify" tells music fans anything, it's that the latest version of John Brown's Body is the best.

"Amplify" was highly regarded — it debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's reggae charts — but it wasn't the complete album that the band’s most recent one, “Kings & Queens,” is.

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The band is the headliner for Sunday's Reggae Festival at Sweetwater Grill.

Doors open at noon with Wise 100 Doors scheduled for 2 p.m., Acutonic scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and John Brown's Body scheduled for 7 p.m. Tickets are available at All That Jazz and Sweetwater for $10 for the first 100, $15 after that or $25 the day of the show. They also can be purchased online by clicking here or here.

As “Kings & Queens” also reached No. 1 status, it's clear the album is some of John Brown's Body's best work.

Simply put, it's tighter and sounds like the group is having more fun.

"The studio can be a stressful environment," said drummer Tommy Benedetti, who helped start the band in 1995. "You're fully exposed. You're putting in really long days. You're playing a lot. But it was a pleasure this time. It speaks to the caliber of players we have. Lots of people come and go being a band for 15 years. That's a natural thing in the music business. But the crew we had together has been solid for a bunch of years."

It shows. “Kings & Queens” is a classic JBB rift on reggae.

The group built its legacy by not following any script. There are lots of elements of funk, some blues sounds, ska, a little punk and electronic riffs all backed up by a reggae feel.

The album even features a couple of loves songs and ballads — a clear nod to former great rock bands.

"We're not looking to make a pure reggae album," Benedetti said. "We have our own sound and own musical passion that we're on."

Whether listeners like reggae, the show should be good. Sunday is the last date for JBB on its current tour before it returns to the East Coast for some time off.

The last time the group played Steamboat was in winter 2009.

Considering its the last show before a break, it's bound to include just as many elements of one love as it will rock kicks.

"It's the last of the tour," Benedetti said. "We're going to have to turn up."

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email

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