"The Light Before Thanksgiving"
November 26, 2008
House of Blues Cleveland, OH
Subject: Much Love
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO CAME OUT TO THE HOUSE OF BLUES WED. NITE TO
SHOW YOUR LOVE FOR FIRST LIGHT. ONCE AGAIN, YOU HELPED MAKE THE MAGIC
HAPPEN. WE ARE SO BLESSED TO HAVE BEEN ABLE TO GET TOGETHER AGAIN.
MUCH LOVE CLEVELAND!!
Have Messages for fans? Video or photos from the show? Send them to us and we'll get them posted!!!
Okay everyone! Here it is - the remix of the very first original First Light song ever. Originally written on Bob Marley's birthday in 1984, recorded in 1985 and released only on VINYL (remember that stuff?) This is the song that launched the Light way back when. And now here we are about to do it ONE MORE TIME! Hope to see you ALL tomorrow. Rise up! PEACE!!! Los
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First Light to get back in groove
For this reunion, band expects to have time for an extended show like fans remember
POSTED: 01:58 p.m. EST, Nov 19, 2008
In June 2008, local legendary reggae/pop band First Light played its first gig in 10 years to a sold-out crowd of fans jonesing for the band's eclectic and now prescient mix of rock, reggae, R&B and pop.
The show was designed as a special, one-night reunion for fans and band members to jam again while they are all still able. Despite inclement weather, the show was an unqualified success, but there were no set plans for the future.
First Light will re-reunite for a show on Wednesday at House of Blues Cleveland, and this time one of the reasons is a bit more pragmatic.
''They kind of made us an offer we couldn't refuse,'' band co-founder vocalist/rhythm guitarist/percussionist Carlos Jones said.
But aside from HOB bookers being smart enough to recognize a near surefire sell-out, Jones said the offer just helped solidify a feeling among band members.
''We really felt at the time, 'OK we did it' and we thought . . . that it would be a shame if that were it, so we left the door open for the possibility of doing something in the future,'' he said. ''We just didn't know it was going to be this soon.''
Additionally, Jones said, neither the band nor the fans got the full First Light experience as the Plain Dealer Pavilion's curfew forced the band to truncate its set. To ensure that the band and fans get to relax and really ''stretch out,'' there will be no opening act at HOB.
For Jones, whose current band Carlos Jones and the P.L.U.S. Band is arguably the most popular reggae band in Northeast Ohio, the First Light reunion comes at a point of professional and personal convergence as he celebrated his 50th birthday in August. It's also his third decade of dedicated music making, as Jones hasn't sacrificed himself to the ''office gods'' since quitting his job as an auto mechanic in 1978.
First Light was formed in 1984 after Jones' stint in the Cleveland-based I-Tal, one of the first American reggae bands. The band's very first gig took place in 1985 opening for the Clash. In the '80s, a band playing original music could work nearly every night of the week in the Northeast Ohio club circuit, and First Light was constantly gigging.
The band, which features Jones, guitarist/bassist Gino Long, Ed Marthey on keyboards, Mike ''Chopper'' Wasson on guitar, Rod Reisman on drums and Bob Caruso on congas, was known as a reggae group, but it liberally mixed rock, R&B and funk into its tunes — a novel concept at the time. Even the slickest, most commercial bands of the genre such as Aswad were still firmly rooted in reggae.
''I don't think we had the realization back then, but now it hits us like a ton of bricks that we were kind of pioneers in what we were doing. Now you have bands like Sublime and 311 and groups that came out since we had quit doing exactly the kind of thing we were doing and they became very popular, so I do think we were forerunners,'' Jones said.
''We just put in everything we grew up with into what we were doing,'' said Long. ''We didn't want to back all that [other music] off for one thing, it was inevitable that it came out of us.
''It's something that's easier for bands today in terms of radio play then when we were doing it,'' Long continued. ''We felt like they didn't know what category to put us in . . . because everything had to be categorized and it seemed they had a problem doing that with us. They couldn't figure out which notch to put us in, so we just did everything on our own.''
First Light's independently released debut album, Reggae Meltdown, containing fan favorites such as the title track and the don't-fence-me-in-themed Apartment Living, sold more than 10,000 copies. The band followed that success with the more eclectic Groove Telepathy, which contained funk tracks such as Money Machine and Caribbean-flavored songs such as Love Not War.
Earlier this year, Cleveland-based Little Fish Records reissued both First Light albums and in September the label released Live at the Empire, an 11-track concert recording that features the band in top form, stretching out in favorites such as a 10-plus-minute take on Where Reggae Comes From.
All three releases are available on major digital download stores, including iTunes and Rhapsody.
First Light broke up in 1998, feeling exhausted and with growing familial responsibilities and the slow decline of the club scene. Members went their separate ways with most keeping a foot in the local music scene.
''This (reunion) has definitely helped mend some fences and heal some past hurts,'' Jones said. ''It allows us to come together solely for the specific purpose of creating that chemistry and that camaraderie and rekindling that flame.
''It's been a blast,'' he continued. ''I'm really enjoying being with the guys again and really appreciating the level of musicianship that each one of these guys brings to the table.''
For Long, the reunion gig was just plain fun.
''It was just being able to do something with a group I love being with and we hadn't done it in a long time,'' Long said. ''It was just good playing with them again.''
Long, who currently plays in a reggae band called Outlaws I&I, said given all the hard work the band did in rehearsals before the June show, he knew members still had it musically. But he was pleasantly surprised by the continued and concentrated love from the fans.
''We touched people's lives. People did like us and they came to see us,'' he said. ''When we were playing the clubs you'd see them here and there, but when it's just one gig and one venue and you see how many people come to that one venue to see you, it's very cool to see. It feels good.''
Malcolm X Abram can be reached at email@example.com or 330-996-3758.
• What: First Light
• When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
• Where: House of Blues Cleveland, 308 Euclid Ave.
• Tickets: $20-$32
• Information: 216-523-BLUE, http://carlosjones.com
From Bob Urban:
From Ed Marthey: