Carlos Jones - Biography

First Light Bio

FIRST LIGHT - The band's story lifted from various band web sites...
Band Attitude:
It was 1984, the year Orwell had predicted universal governmental oppression of the human race. While thousands of people starved in the streets of the richest country in history, Ronnie Raygun (the fascist gun in the west ) and his old boy network were studying the feasibility of putting lasers into orbit. They were also pondering ways to scrap the Bill of Rights, which were the first stirrings of the drug war and the war on crime. The war on poverty had been resoundingly lost, which was certainly no surprise to the poor and powerless. Rock and Roll was dead. Disco had murdered it. Popular culture, controlled by the media, was mostly banal hogwash. Who controlled the media? John and Jane Q. Public, hoodwinked by those media on every level, believed America's problems were the fault of illegal aliens, the poor, gangs, drug addicts, unwed mothers, artists, musicians, environmentalists, college professors, scientist, etc; instead of placing the blame where it belonged: a bloated, self perpetuating bureaucracy run from behind smoke and mirrors by big, big, bucks. I mean BIG, "How much for England?" -type bucks! At the same time, in a super secret basement location on the east side of Cleveland, First Light writhed in the throes of birth. First Light?? A Religious cult? A Gang? Comic book super-heroes? Ocean-hopping gaggle of environmental activists? No, a band. It was basically a reggae band at first, but later, when First Light became more completely itself, no one could describe in a word, phrase or 25 words or less. Happily almost all descriptions were full of superlatives, literally choked with positive adjectives. First Lights' music has packed clubs and halls for 11 years. But, like most bands that refuse to settle into any one, clearly defined genre, for the convenience of demographers, the Light has remained largely hidden from the big-time show biz world. Light News, the band's newsletter, held a contest to come up with a name for First Light's music. Nobody won. Terms like "Universal Groove Music", "Funkae" and "World Funk" were bandied about but eventually rejected as too misleading or unwieldy. Meanwhile, a lot of people still called the Light a "Reggae band", which was as accurate an appellation as "Country punk opera with a touch of polka/hip-hop." What sort of music is this, that no one can seem to describe? You'll have to decide for yourself...if you like it, tell your friends-- after all word of mouth has always been our best advertisement, and if you think of a name of our genre, tell us! 

Band History:
Cleveland's thriving music scene has been dominated for the better part of a decade by First Light. They're billed as a reggae act, but First Light's sound explodes beyond the term's simple definition. Intermingling the best of Rock, R & B, soca, jazz, blues, funk and rap, the band stretches reggae's accepted boundaries everytime they take the stage. Just look, into the audience on any given night and you see their musical peers intently watching First Light's wildly successful artistry. But you also notice the fans, people literally transformed by the light's magnetic sound and riveting frontmen. 

Even when the band formed in 1984 First Light wrote reams of original material and treated concert goers to their signature"in-your-face" shows. They immediently carved a comfortable niche in the midwest music scene-- and unprecedented coup for a new act in the regions cutthroat market. The band quickly released a 3-song EP, MUSICAL UPRISING, which was followed in the summer of 1988 by the remarkably popular REGGAE MELTDOWN CD. "Apartment Living," "Reggae Meltdown", and "Unity of Conscience" recalled the hard edged reggae of their earlier days. But as the album title suggests, something "nuclear" had happened. The sonic twists and turns of tracks like "The Light" "Running" and "Tolerate" lured whole new audiences into First Light's musical odyssey. 

For years, Reggae Meltdown sales continued to surpass 12,000 without the help of commercial airplay, or national distribution. To meet the demand in 1992, the band produced 2 new cassettes. FIRST LIGHT LIVE and FIRST LIGHT BOOTLEG -- both of which offered fans popular live favorites and previously unreleased studio tracks. First Light's own Thin Ice record label produced, distributed and successfully marketed all three projects. 

Consistently filling the regions largest showcase clubs, First Light Plays nearly 200 dates per year in major venues from Chicago to Boston, Vermont to South Carolina. Astute national promoters capitalized on their widely diverse appeal and booked the band with acts as musically varied as Living Colour, Steel Pulse, Taylor Dayne, Meatloaf and the Clash. You've heard the buzz, and now you've read the story. But when you come out and see First Light for yourself, one thing becomes abundantly clear: Defying labels and ignoring boundaries, First Light is much more than Cleveland's most popular reggae band. They're unquestionably the region's biggest talent. 

This be us:
Bob Caruso -- Percussion 
Chopper -- Guitar, bass, vocals 
Carlos Jones -- Vocals, rhythm guitar 
Gino Long -- Guitar, bass, vocals 
Ed Marthey -- Keyboards, vocals 
Rod Reisman -- Drums 

Music Style: Lifted from a review in Scene Magazine by Ken Advent
Reggae is both modern and primal. Its beat is rhythmical and moving, a powerful tool for moving bodies and minds. Carlos Jones knows the power of music. As guitarist/percussionist/primary vocalist for the Cleveland reggae band First Light, he's seen the power that reggae carries. 

"Oh Yeah," Jones admits. "We've seen it for generations man, where music is the soundtrack to everyday life. It changes things and changes people and it's a very strong force. It has the power to heal, the power to motivate, the power to make you think. It can change your life." 

The band is marked by both its versatility and harmony. Vastly different backgrounds keep the music fresh, while the 11 years of playing together have pulled them into a tight unit. Plus, there's no real front man here. First Light brings everything into the foreground, with each member contributing to make the group a single entity. Drums blend with rhythm guitar, bass moves percussion, keys melt into lead guitars. it's like six instruments directed by one mind - Groove Telepathy. 

In concert the band itself becomes secondary. The crowd actually becomes part of the performance, dancing, moving and swaying like rastafarian metronomes, perfectly in time with the groove. The music takes on a life of its own, pushing the players in the direction they need to go. 

And this isn't your stereotypical reggae band. Guitarist Gino Long fires off old Van Halen riffs during the lull between songs. They do covers -Led Zeppelin's "When The Levee Breaks," Steve Miller's "the Joker." And the music suits them. Jones attributes the band's longevity to the original approach they take to reggae. "The kind of reggae that I-Tal (his former band) played and First Light plays, had more of a rock edge to it," he explains, "...maybe the personnel had a little bit to do with it. It's made up of all different ethnic backgrounds and cultural backgrounds. Maybe people find us a little easier to relate to." 

"The kind of reggae is not just your traditional Jamaican-style reggae. We could do that, but, being that none of us are from Jamaica, we grew up on Hendrix and Cream and Santana and Genesis, and Parliament Funkadelic and all that. Those influences come through." 

Jones thinks the blending of rock and other forms of music with reggae comes naturally. "Because, after all, reggae is a blend of different styles of music," he says. "Nothing's really just pure, one thing or the other. Music as a whole blends what came before and what is to come. What First Light is now is not so much a reggae band as, for lack of a better description, world beat. We're even, maybe, a rock band with reggae or world beat undertones or influences.