Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Caribbean cool from Connecticut

Moto mixes contemporary grooves into its reggae and soca base

Drummer Paul Bozzi fell for reggae in the early ’70s when Bob Marley’s music started making waves in this country. He never lost his taste for the Jamaican groove even as he went off to play in all sorts of rock, funk, and R&B bands.

“It was a few years ago when I finally asked myself why am I not playing this music that I really like,” Bozzi says.

As he was ready to place an ad on Craigslist seeking other musicians around his Connecticut base interested in forming a reggae band, Bozzi noticed a similar ad posted by keyboard player and singer Roger Lum You, whose path wended through Trinidad and Miami before leading him to New England. Once Bozzi and You connected, the band Moto took shape, offering a blend of traditional roots reggae spiced with contemporary touches as well as more traditional Caribbean soca material.

Moto makes its Wachusett Mountain debut Thursday, performing from 8 to 10 p.m. in the Coppertop as part of the Gosling’s Dark and Stormy bash.

Moto hit its groove when it picked up keyboard player and bassist Guy Wallis and sax player, singer and ukulele plucker Lyn Ryan McKenna, two members of popular Jimmy Buffett tribute Changes in Latitude. McKenna also plays accordion which gives Moto a chance to show the kinship between reggae and zydeco.

Bozzi says Moto can run through the standards set down by Marley, Gregory Isaacs, Steel Pulse and the like, but prefers to shake up the material.

“We’ll toss a Peter Gabriel song into the middle of a Bob Marley song,” Bozzi says. “And the sax makes us a little jazzy too.”

And one of Moto’s concert staples is a reworking of Prince’s “When Doves Cry” that Bozzi says has become a crowd favorite.

But You keeps an eye_ and ear_ on the details

“Roger is from Trinidad and he busts my ass all the time if I don’t play it the way he thinks it should be played,” says Bozzi, noting the “weird drum stuff” in reggae and soca. “We’ll be playing and he’ll make a motion with his hand for me to close the high end. He likes it tight.”

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