11 March @ San Fran Bath House, Wellington

This March Wellington was treated to a visit from J Boog, a reggae artist making big waves in the international music scene. Of Samoan descent, born in Long Beach and raised in Compton, J Boog (Jerry Afemata) moved to Hawaii in 2006 and released his debut album Hear Me Roar in 2007.

Connecting with mentors and fellow artists like Gramps of Morgan Heritage and Richie Spice have only helped this artist to launch further into an already impressive career, which I think will take him well beyond the Pacific in years to come.

Roots Connect, a reggae events organisation based on the Kapiti Coast, teamed up with Auckland band Three Houses Down to present The Sweet Summer Tour, consisting of seven shows to audiences throughout the North Island. Having already performed in Opononi, Whakatane, Auckland, Hamilton, and Whanganui, Wellington was the second to last stop before they hit Rotorua to wind up the tour.

NiceUp was there to cover the Wellington show and upon our arrival we were pleased to see Vintage, a familiar local act, who did a good job vibing up an increasingly large crowd at Wellington’s Front Room venue. Local four-piece band Aio had performed earlier, and next up to move the crowd was the legendary Che Fu and longtime partner in rhyme and music, Haz.

Che and Haz, both sharing vocal and also DJing duties, performed several classics and also new songs and remixes, showing off impressive freestyle MCing, turntablism, and that sweet and slick Polynesian harmony (that we were about to get a lot more of with Three Houses Down and J Boog getting ready to take the stage).

Next up was ten-piece, Auckland based band, Three Houses Down. Formed in 2004 and now two albums deep, from the get-go they planted a tough roots vibe. Flexing a heavy rhythm section and a majestic horn section, the lead vocals from Charlie Pome’e and lead keyboard from Tonga Vaea laid the icing on the cake, as they rocked the crowd with new material and also strong numbers from their Breakout and Dreadtown albums.

After a few moments of a mediocre American-style hype man, possibly from J Boogs crew, the crowd was ready for the man himself. With Three Houses Down providing a live backing band, J Boog was in good hands as he roared through songs like Coldest Zone and Lets Do It Again. No stranger to enthusiastic crowds, he called upon fellow band mates to perform duets, and at times was off stage and amongst his fans in the heaving and excited crowd.

A big thanks to the Roots Connect crew for making this happen, certainly an impressive and well run event that we hope to see more of here in Aotearoa.

Art