FIRST LIGHT - The band's story lifted from various
band web sites...
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
orbit. They were also pondering ways to scrap the Bill of Rights, which
the first stirrings of the drug war and the war on crime. The war on
had been resoundingly lost, which was certainly no surprise to the poor
powerless. Rock and Roll was dead. Disco had murdered it. Popular
controlled by the media, was mostly banal hogwash. Who controlled the
John and Jane Q. Public, hoodwinked by those media on every level,
America's problems were the fault of illegal aliens, the poor, gangs,
addicts, unwed mothers, artists, musicians, environmentalists, college
scientist, etc; instead of placing the blame where it belonged: a
self perpetuating bureaucracy run from behind smoke and mirrors by big,
bucks. I mean BIG, "How much for England?" -type bucks! At the same
in a super secret basement location on the east side of Cleveland,
Light writhed in the throes of birth. First Light?? A Religious cult? A
Comic book super-heroes? Ocean-hopping gaggle of environmental
No, a band. It was basically a reggae band at first, but later, when
Light became more completely itself, no one could describe in a word,
or 25 words or less. Happily almost all descriptions were full of
literally choked with positive adjectives. First Lights' music has
clubs and halls for 11 years. But, like most bands that refuse to
into any one, clearly defined genre, for the convenience of
the Light has remained largely hidden from the big-time show biz world.
News, the band's newsletter, held a contest to come up with a name for
Light's music. Nobody won. Terms like "Universal Groove Music",
and "World Funk" were bandied about but eventually rejected as too
or unwieldy. Meanwhile, a lot of people still called the Light a
band", which was as accurate an appellation as "Country punk opera with
touch of polka/hip-hop." What sort of music is this, that no one can
to describe? You'll have to decide for yourself...if you like it, tell
friends-- after all word of mouth has always been our best
and if you think of a name of our genre, tell us!
Cleveland's thriving music scene has been dominated for the better part
a decade by First Light. They're billed as a reggae act, but First
sound explodes beyond the term's simple definition. Intermingling the
of Rock, R & B, soca, jazz, blues, funk and rap, the band stretches
accepted boundaries everytime they take the stage. Just look, into the
on any given night and you see their musical peers intently watching
Light's wildly successful artistry. But you also notice the fans,
literally transformed by the light's magnetic sound and riveting
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
quickly released a 3-song EP, MUSICAL UPRISING, which was followed in
summer of 1988 by the remarkably popular REGGAE MELTDOWN CD. "Apartment
"Reggae Meltdown", and "Unity of Conscience" recalled the hard edged
of their earlier days. But as the album title suggests, something
had happened. The sonic twists and turns of tracks like "The Light"
and "Tolerate" lured whole new audiences into First Light's musical
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
unreleased studio tracks. First Light's own Thin Ice record label
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
diverse appeal and booked the band with acts as musically varied as
Colour, Steel Pulse, Taylor Dayne, Meatloaf and the Clash. You've heard
buzz, and now you've read the story. But when you come out and see
Light for yourself, one thing becomes abundantly clear: Defying labels
ignoring boundaries, First Light is much more than Cleveland's most
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
Reggae is both modern and primal. Its beat is rhythmical and moving, a
tool for moving bodies and minds. Carlos Jones knows the power of
As guitarist/percussionist/primary vocalist for the Cleveland reggae
First Light, he's seen the power that reggae carries.
"Oh Yeah," Jones admits. "We've seen it for generations
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
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.
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
by one mind - Groove Telepathy.
In concert the band itself becomes secondary. The crowd
becomes part of the performance, dancing, moving and swaying like
metronomes, perfectly in time with the groove. The music takes on a
of its own, pushing the players in the direction they need to go.
And this isn't your stereotypical reggae band. Guitarist
fires off old Van Halen riffs during the lull between songs. They do
-Led Zeppelin's "When The Levee Breaks," Steve Miller's "the Joker."
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
"...maybe the personnel had a little bit to do with it. It's made up of
different ethnic backgrounds and cultural backgrounds. Maybe people
us a little easier to relate to."
"The kind of reggae is not just your traditional
reggae. We could do that, but, being that none of us are from Jamaica,
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
reggae comes naturally. "Because, after all, reggae is a blend of
styles of music," he says. "Nothing's really just pure, one thing or
other. Music as a whole blends what came before and what is to come.
First Light is now is not so much a reggae band as, for lack of a
description, world beat. We're even, maybe, a rock band with reggae or
beat undertones or influences.