Carlos Jones - Biography

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Carlos Jones - Bio (2014)



 The “iron-man” of the Cleveland, Ohio reggae scene is without question, Carlos Jones. Carlos’ journey follows the history of Cleveland reggae itself. He started out as a sideman (percussion/vocals) with the band, I-tal in the late 70’s. Their contribution to Cleveland’s musical history cannot be overlooked. Although there were earlier local reggae bands forming out of the Jamaican community in the city,  I-tal was able to bring the music to the masses of local college kids with their unique, rock influenced reggae sound, their shows having a unifying atmosphere, packing clubs with ecstatic fans, hypnotized by the seductive and mystical rhythms and socially relevant messages. I-tal mostly toured the mid-west and east coast, and had one full LP release in 1981 simply titled, I-tal. Being one of the first local reggae bands in the area, they would be the first live reggae experience for many people, playing clubs, colleges, and festivals all over the region.


      After having been a sideman for about five years, Carlos began to come into his own as a songwriter and onstage presence. In 1984, an offshoot made up of five of the original 8 I-tal members formed, called First Light.  Jones was the principle songwriter and became front man of the group. During its 14 year run, First Light achieved a huge level of popularity; with its powerful and eclectic brand of music, which mixed rock, funk, blues with reggae, and also had a reputation for being a pretty lively and fun loving bunch of guys that liked being where the action was. Performing over a large part of the country, they seemed poised to break into the national spotlight, but lacked the management or luck needed to get them there. During that time, there were several independent releases: debuting with a 3-song EP on vinyl called "Musical Uprising" in 1985, and then following with two full length CDs: "Meltdown" in 1987, and "Groove Telepathy" in 1994. There were also two cassette tape recordings put out: "Live at the Empire" and "The Official Bootleg", which were both released in 1991.


       By the mid-90s, feeling the need to return to a more conscious, roots-reggae sound than First Light was known for, Carlos formed a stripped-down, mostly acoustic, four-piece combo which he named Strictly Roots, which would later be renamed, Peace Love Unity Syndicate, now more commonly known as The PLUS Band. After doing both projects for a number of years, Carlos decided to make The PLUS Band his full-time pursuit and First Light disbanded in May of 1998.  Since then, he has been on a mission to carry the message of peace, love, unity, higher consciousness and the joy of the reggae vibration to all who will listen.


      As a first order of business, Carlos released a 14-song solo outing called “Peace Love & Unity”. It was a lo-fi but well-crafted effort recorded on a 4-track recording deck in his home, which saw moderate local distribution. This served as a re-introduction to his fan base as a solo artist, and would later provide material for a full-length CD entitled, "Full Circle, A Retrospective”, which was released in 2000 on Little Fish Records, a fledgling indie label run by Larry Koval, who had signed on as manager for Jones in 1998. This basically is a compendium of tracks pulled from various recordings spanning Jones’ career, including some of his solo work, and included some previously un-released First Light tracks as well. On it, you can hear a live version of the anthemic "Where Reggae Comes From", complete with manic crowd chanting, recorded at the now defunct Empire Club during the height of the First Light era.  In April of 2004, the band’s first full length CD, “Roots With Culture” was released after much anticipation and it did not disappoint. Described in The Beat magazine as; “a powerful, 14-track collection of slinky grooves and thundering bass lines, Roots With Culture delivers a message of peace and harmony, with Jones’ heartfelt vocals leading the way, all wrapped in a production that can stand up to the best of them.” “It will undoubtedly, over time, become a staple in most reggae collections.” (Chuck Foster - Reggae Update, The Beat Magazine – Vol. 24, no.1, June 2005)

The band followed up in 2009 with its second full-length album; “Leave A Trail”, and a 4-song EP, “Positive Vibrations” was released in the summer of 2011. The band is currently working on new material for a possible 2014 release. Some of Carlos’ solo music is also featured on the soundtrack to an independent film called NorthStarr, which won a spot at The Sundance Film Festival in 2009, and he has collaborated with many other local area artists, as well as a popular and prolific recording artist out of Maui, Hawaii; by the name of Marty Dread.


      Carlos and his crew have solidified into a tight and powerful unit, giving soul stirring and uplifting performances for an ever-expanding following. They maintain a hectic pace of shows at clubs, private events and festivals, playing 2-3 shows nearly every week. As a result, the band’s soulful rhythms and heartfelt message have made it one of Cleveland’s top draws for nearly two decades. The PLUS Band has played from the mountains of Idaho to the beaches of Jamaica, and has remained a perennial favorite at events such as; The Hessler Street Fair, Wade Oval Wednesdays, Massillon Museum Island Party, Painesville Party in the Park and The Mid-West Reggae Fest, drawing record crowds every year. Their appearances at venues such as House of Blues, Shooters and Nelson Ledges Quarry Park keep them highly visible and have steadily increased their popularity among the younger and older generations alike. Since their humble beginnings in 1998; they have earned several “Best of Cleveland” awards in their category. They were voted Best Live Act (overall) in Cleveland at the 2004 Scene Music Awards, and in 2007 were awarded permanent "All Star" status in the Free Times Music Awards.


       As of this year, Carlos celebrates a musical career spanning 35 years, and is still going strong.

In 2012, he was chosen as one of Cleveland’s “Hometown Heroes” in a FOX 8 News feature, and in 2013, was honored by his former high school (Maple Heights) with the “Pathfinder Award” for his contributions to humanitarian causes and positive example to others. When asked about his plans for the future, he’ll simply tell you, “The future is every day I get, you know? I just live this moment right now and give it all I’ve got, and let that carry me forward. I’ve been allowed to live long enough to learn what’s most important in life, and to know the true meaning of love. I’m very happy to be where I am and feel very blessed and grateful for all that I have been allowed to accomplish so far. I just want to keep on expressing this music from my heart for as long as I’m able to, and in my own small way, keep the positive vibration alive for all those who can feel it. As long as I can continue doing what I love, and feel the acceptance and appreciation for what I’m doing - what more could I ask for out of life? “



PLUS Band members are:

·        Carlos Jones - lead vocals, rhythm guitar, percussion

·        Will Douglas - drums

·        Darren (Cholly-O) Evans – bass guitar

·        Peter Platten - keyboards, vocals

·        Dan Shramo  - guitar, vocals

·        Ghani Harris - guitar, vocals

·        Curt Johnson - percussion, vocals

·        Roy Isaacs - percussion

·        George Gordon - tambourine, fancy footwork


Artist Contact:

Little Fish Records -

Larry Koval -

PO Box 19164

Cleveland, OH 44119


Little Fish







Click Here to see an article from PM Magazine August 1995 about PLUS Band.

Click Here to see an article from December 2001 Tonight Magazine about Carlos and PLUS Band.

Click Here to see a vintage PLUS band line-up Bio.

Click Here to see a First Light Bio lifted from various web sites.

Click Here to see a PLUS Band bio lifted from various web sites.