Albert “Apple Gabriel” Craig hails from Jamaica and has overcome struggles that few musicians have experienced. Like contracting polio at the age of three and then having to endure a scorching hot blanket wrap for “treatment.” His years spent with Israel Vibration have made him one of the most respected names in reggae music, and he continues to inspire people, including the members of Groundation.
The band formed in 1998 at Sonoma State College in California by musicians Marcus Urani, Ryan Newman and Harrison Stafford. Their album Hebron Gate was nominated for Germany’s World Music Award and has received worldwide praise. Their current tour follows the release of their fourth album, We Free Again, which has received critical acclaim. It blends elements of jazz and dub with reggae.
Groundation singer Stafford recently set aside some time while on Oahu to talk to us. He described legendary singer Apple Gabriel as “a blessing musically” and that touring with him has been a good balance for the group. Working with Gabriel on their latest album has allowed Groundation to “push boundaries” and continue to make unique music that moves people in ways only music can.
What does he find unique about Maui and its people?
“Maui seems to have a really a good balance,” he said. “If you want to climb to the top of a mountain and just be in that spiritual space, it’s your backyard.”
Then I asked Stafford how Hawaiian shows differ from performing in front of a California crowd.
“The strongest vibration of reggae music is in Europe and Hawai’i,” he said. He added that people in Hawai’i are on a “more conscious level of music.”
Stafford sees people on Maui as being “life-loving people” who are “connected to the ocean,” who stay away from the negative things in life and “choose consciously to support positive vibrations.”
Groundation is not worried about huge success, like gaining fame through MTV, he said. “We give our lives to music,” he added. In any case, he feels MTV’s programming is focused on “negative” depictions of women and minorities. “That’s why you don’t see reggae music on TV,” he said.
Negative? Sure, there’s violence, drugs, the bling factor, Paris Hilton… But mostly it’s all harmless, right?
Not quite. Stafford said reggae music embraces and celebrates the positive aspects of life. It’s about positive energy and love—not in the stupid-sappy way of chick flicks or Hallmark cards, but coming together as people, embracing differences.
But reggae isn’t just promoting positive energy, but about connecting people, grounding them, opening the lines of communication—which is where they got the name “Groundation” in the first place. Because once that happens, people get inspired to do something great with their lives.
“All we have is life,” he told me. “We are here for the moment.”
Saturday’s show features two sets of booty-shaking music: one set of pure Groundation jams, the other featuring Apple’s music with Groundation jamming in the background. The show is 21 and over and tickets are $25. MTW