Recently formed band Fathom Five releases their first album, Branched Oak Reggae. With music celebrating boating, sailing, nature, and a love for reggae music, the album blends Midwestern lake life with Caribbean island culture.
Founding members Tim Loker and Paul Koehler, after spending many a Friday night cruising Branched Oak Lake in Nebraska listening to hours of reggae tunes, decided to create original reggae-style music based on sailing and boating experiences at the lake as well as in the Caribbean. Tim has been a longtime musician and songwriter as well as recordist, and wrote the words and music to Branched Oak Reggae. He also plays many of the instruments on the album, focusing on guitar and vocals. Paul, the Toaster* of Fathom Five, has been involved in music all his life. His formative Toaster years included radio announcer work with his dad as a youth. Alicia Opoku, lead and background vocalist, is Director of Music at Saint Paul United Methodist Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, and has performed in local reggae bands. The mystifying and reclusive Blue, from Omaha, Nebraska, has played bass, keyboards and percussion on this and other albums, we think.
The material in the album covers boating and sailing, touches upon social and spiritual issues, but is mostly just plain fun, a straight up mix of reggae/ska/island influence with a double shot of Midwestern lake life thrown in! If you happen to be a boater at the lake, you may have even been a part of one of the songs!
*Toasting is a style of lyrical chanting which, in Dancehall music, involves a deejay talking over a riddim. Though the art of chanting over a beat is quite ancient, and found in many African-based musical traditions, toasting became quite popular in Jamaica in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and "sound systems" (traveling deejays and producers with large speakers and a library of beats and riddims) would feature toasting as part of their musical entertainment.
Toasting is not only important in Jamaican music, but also featured heavily in the development of American popular music, as it was Jamaican-born toaster DJ Kool Herc who brought the style to Queens, subsequently setting off the entire history of rap and hip-hop music. (Description from "About.com")