This edition of Bands in the Neighborhood is on Lucky Dub, a reggae/dub group with members in Columbia Heights and elsewhere.
Bassist John Baker and two others formed the band in summer 2007 and then had some turnover. One person left, a Rasta from Jamaica joined for awhile, and soon vocalist Gordon Daniels joined. Daniels had just moved back after living and playing music in the Virgin Islands for a year and was looking for a reggae band. "After meeting a few of the guys I came to the next show they were playing at Asylum in Adams Morgan," said Daniels. "The singer literally just didn't show up. I was in the crowd, and they asked if I knew enough songs to make it though the night. I jumped on stage, and we just clicked." The band picked up a horn section in January.
Daniels and Baker both live in the neighborhood, around Georgia and 15th respectively, but other members "span from students in the city from around the country, and professional musicians from as far as Baltimore and Virginia."
The band played the most recent Columbia Heights Day and other venues in the area, like Wonderland and even Morgan's Seafood at Georgia at Kenyon. One memorable show was at the Rock and Roll Hotel for a Greenpeace event: "There was so much energy from the crowd, just having done a successful action; I've never seen a group with more collective energy get down so hard!" said Baker. "We had so many people come up to dance on stage that the club had to make a special announcement for them to get down."
Daniels also cited good times at the now-closed Ghana Cafe in Adams Morgan. "We played through power blackouts, had the entire bar up on stage, our musicians dancing and playing in the crowd, and it would go until 2:45 in the morning," he said.
Influence-wise, band members are from around the country, and Daniels gives the Caribbean a particular emphasis. "The motto you hear from everybody and see down there is 'Positive Is How I Live,' and it’s true," he said. "...I love the feel and vibe I get from a reggae show or techno show, where everybody is just smiling and you can feel everybody loving life."
Musically, Daniels mentions the first reggae acts they heard like like Bob Marley, plus reggae-influenced 90s rock like Sublime and 311, and classic rock, blues, and hip hip. They also mentioned are pulling from dub like King Tubby and Augustus Pablo, world music, roots reggae likes Toots and the Maytals, and newer bands like Michael Franti & Spearhead.
Asked about records, they mentioned not an album but a Guinness Book record. "We did set the Guinness Book world record for the longest jam," said Daniels. "We have T-Shirts to prove it," added Baker. "It was a six-day jam that took place at Johns Hopkins University and we were the final closing act."
As for albums, they have a live album called "Lucky Dub Live" on iTunes, which was recorded at the Black Cat, and they're working on their first studio record.
Since the band members aren't full time musicians, most of their tours have been weekend trips, but they are planning a tour to the Virgin Islands during Carnival.
Asked about the local music scene, both Baker praised Wonderland and the neighborhood. "I think Columbia Heights is very much one of the creative centers for DC, I know lots of artists and musicians that live in the area, and I think that's been something that has made the area a tighter community than other areas of DC," mentioning the drum circle at Malcolm X/Meridian Hill Park as an example: "...it's a fantastic collective of people from all different backgrounds that come together simply to make music and dance together."
And the last question: if you had to rename your band for something in Columbia Heights, what would it be? Daniels suggested Jam Down, a favorite Jamaican restaurant on Georgia Avenue. "If you haven’t been yet you have to check it out. They bump good reggae music into the street giving off good vibes all day on what is sometimes a dark street. It’s a bright spot. I mean I love the neighborhood, but when you walk by it you just kind of feel better. That’s what I’d like from the music we do..." He also thinks Cesar Chavez Elementary School would be a good name.
The band's next shows are in the Virgin Islands, but check out their Twitter and Youtube for more.