Grounding has just released its highly anticipated tenth studio album, One Rock, via a partnership between French BACO Records and American Easy Star Records. The band, formed in 1998 by singer/guitarist Harrison Stafford, helped define American roots reggae, while building a large and loyal following in Europe and South America, where they have always been a major headliner. and a festival attraction for years. One Rock advances its sound and legacy through 9 intense songs with intricate arrangements, moving melodies, and lyrics that touch on the human condition, the human spirit, and the state of the world. Listen and buy the album on vinyl, CD and digital with an exclusive t-shirt HERE.
In many ways, One Rock can be seen as a product of the global pandemic of the past two years. Over this time, Groundation have become even more aware of the issues of selfishness and greed that have emerged, which they address throughout the record, while honoring the victims and honoring the many reggae legends who have left us. left too soon since 2020. The group’s desire to honor the “veterans” on this album was therefore obvious. Always a band that respects its elders and ancestors, Groundation once again makes history by uniting legendary reggae vocal groups Israel Vibration, The Abyssinians and The Congos in the fold of the new album.
The relationship with these three bands began before the formation of Groundation, through Harrison’s longtime relationships beginning as a teenager, and would continue through years of touring and sharing stages around the world. To implement these collaborations, Groundation wrote and arranged parts specifically for these unique singers, taking into account their style, range, tone and phrasing. The track “Original Riddim” was calibrated to welcome the talent of Abyssinians and Israel Vibration. The duo Israel Vibration, made up of singers Wiss and Skelly, is also a guest on the up-tempo heavy groove track “Iron” which closes the album. As for the Congos, who had already participated in the albums Hebron Gate released in 2002 and Here I Am in 2009, it seemed obvious for Groundation to call on them on the eponymous title “One Rock”.
Normally made up of two guitars, drums, bass, piano, Rhodes, B3 organ, three horns and three harmony voices, Groundation also welcomes a classical string trio on this new album. It was a big first for the band, bringing unique texture and emotion to the album’s first three songs. Tracks such as ‘Greed’ and ‘Silver and Gold’ venture into uncharted polyrhythmic worlds, while ‘Absolutely Clear’ and ‘Day When The Computer Done’ explore new harmonic movement. “Market Price” features a solo piano intro that leads into a frenetic brass arrangement, before turning into a slow odd meter. The song goes on to create a world of dichotomy between the upbeat, joyful musical atmosphere and the intense lyrics. which depict the megalomania behind many world leaders and the millions who follow their madness. All 9 tracks were recorded on 2″ analog tape at Prairie Sun Studios in Sonoma Country, CA.
Stafford formed Groundation in 1998, when he started a roots reggae/jazz fusion band with other students in Sonoma State University’s Jazz Performance program. The band’s first 2 albums (Young Tree and Each One Teach One) established their unique sound, while beginning the band’s long affiliation with founding reggae artists, as Each One Teach One features vocalist Marcia Higgs and master of the Ras Michael battery. Stafford’s extensive knowledge of the reggae genre led him to develop a course he taught at Sonoma State called “The History of Reggae Music”, where legends like Joseph Hill of culture and icons historical figures such as Abba Melchezadek (private secretary of Haile Selassie) would come to share their personal experiences.
In 1999, while in Jamaica, Harrison met legendary engineer Jim Fox, who helped produce many of RAS Records’ most iconic releases. Fox remastered Young Tree and Each One Teach One and recorded Hebron Gate (2002), the album that launched Groundation with international acclaim. Fox continued to work with the band on each subsequent release, helping shape their sound on We Free Again (2004), Upon The Bridge (2006), Here I Am (2009), Building An Ark (2012) and A Miracle ( 2014) creating a catalog of deep, deep, progressive roots reggae music. Similarly, Groundation’s artwork had a cohesive look and feel, with Stafford’s childhood friend Giovanni Maki creating all of the visual designs from the very beginning.
Over the years, Groundation has performed in over 35 countries on 5 continents. The band, which has seen a number of personnel changes over the years but still built around the leadership of Harrison Stafford, have continued to take reggae into new worlds, with their latest studio album, The Next Generation (2018 ) opening with a full jazz big band (with 12 horn players). This album beat out Ziggy Marley and others to win Reggae.fr’s “Best Reggae Roots Album of 2018”, voted on by over 16,000 members of the media, musicians, producers and fans. The band has numerous tour dates and festivals set up for the coming year in Europe, South America and the United States. Tour dates are available at https://groundation.com/live.