SOJA Brings a Double Dose of Reggae to The Bowery Ballroom

February 8th, 2012

Bassist Bobby Lee Jefferson and lead singer and guitarist Jacob Hemphill met back in elementary school, bonding over shared tastes in music. And beginning in middle school they started to meet the others, drummer Ryan Berty, percussionist Kenneth Brownell and keyboardist Patrick O’Shea. The band is based in Northern Virginia, where the five of them live, but since the quartet’s first album came out a decade ago, there’s been a name change—dropping Soldiers of Jah Army for SOJA—countless tours and saxophonist Hellman Escorcia and trumpeter Rafael Rodriguez have come on to deepen the socially conscious group’s sound. Reggae isn’t as big in the U.S. as it is in other places. In fact SOJA (above, doing “Here I Am” for Rockpalast) plays before thousands in South America, but with a fourth LP, Strength to Survive, out last week, they’re coming our way for two shows, tomorrow and Friday at The Bowery Ballroom. Come see what the fuss is all about.