Dubtonic Kru ends hiatus - Hits the road again with US tour
As true musicians, you can only take a break for so long without really getting back into your passion. This is according to Deleon 'Jubba' Whyte, founding member and drummer of the world-famous Dubtonic Kru.
"Every so often, whether it's a band or a business, they go through that time when they have to reinvent themselves, take time for self. It was one of those periods, but Dubtonic Kru is ready again. We have been boiling musically for a while," Jubba told The Gleaner. Though it was intended, the return was an organic one. The plan was to make a comeback in 2019, "but people kept calling, so the time is now".
Along with Jubba, Dubtonic Kru includes members Strickland Stone (drums), Omar 'Jallanzo' Johnson (guitarist), Horace 'Kamau' Morgan (vocals) and Luke Dixon at the workstations. For their last stint on the road, Dubtonic Kru toured Europe in 2014 for a few weeks, then again for a one-month-long summer tour in 2015.
"This is the first time people are gonna see Dubtonic Kru since then," Jubba told The Gleaner.
NORTHEAST US TOUR
This weekend will find the reggae group along the US Northeast Coast, making an intentional return to the stage. Between July 27-29, the band will be hitting three spots.
"There's a festival promoter we've worked with. This will be the second year of the festival in Tacoma, and he said we were the only guys missing from the bill. We said we're not quite ready, but we're gonna make it happen," the drummer said. Following that, Dubtonic will head to Northwest Reggae Festival in Portland, Oregon, where they will be the headliners for the festival's last night.
"Just a few days ago, some other people reached out and we picked up a third, so we're in the region - between Oregon and Washington," Jubba said.
When Dubtonic Kru were previously active, much of their focus was on international touring, and those moves were made independent of record labels or booking agents.
"On average, we were on the road three times a year, for four to six weeks at a time. We needed a break. In the midst of that intensity, some of us took different paths," he continued.
Kamau went on a solo mission, while the remaining members took their time to focus on family. "I had two boys, and at a certain stage they need a father figure. Our bass player, same thing. We were still producing music and working with other artistes, but Dubtonic took a back seat. We were still doing recordings here and there, because we're all friends and still do get together," Jubba said.
Besides touring, Dubtonic Kru's energy was further stretched.
The members put their energy behind producing the live music series Plug N' Play and Bands Incorporated, ventures which have since been discontinued.
"It started out as a challenging period. We were doing a lot of things in Jamaica - in terms of producing shows - to help the community of musicians, not just ourselves. For one developmental aspect, whatever was being dispersed was done to help a wider community. That took a lot of time, effort and funding. That was mostly out of pocket," Jubba said.
Regardless of support from the media and fans, Jubba admits to recognising many shortcomings while producing the shows.
"As you can tell, it took a huge toll. We faced a lot of challenges in the process to try to grow as an entity. But the shows were growing. The music fraternity supported the platforms we had and were thrilled to be part of it. Colleagues participated and partnered. It helped with developing a lot of what's happening now, but we just needed time to ourselves," Jubba said.
Dubtonic Kru rose to fame in 2011 after being unanimously voted Best New Band in the World at the Global Battle of the Bands World Finals, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Dubtonic band has been around since the 1990s, touring with rocksteady and roots-reggae greats such as The Heptones, U Roy, Max Romeo and the Mighty Diamonds.