Daily Egyptian

The Ark Band talks roots, brotherhood and Marley

By Chase Myers, @chasemyers_DE

The Ark Band, a roots reggae band from Columbus, Oh., will be the concluding act for the 2015 Summer Concert Series at 7 p.m. Thursday at Shryock Auditorium.

The seven-piece collective, begun from two brothers, is the longest running reggae band in Ohio and preserves their Marley-influenced roots sound with a strong rhythm section.

They have shared the stage with some of reggae’s most noticeable acts, such as Burning Spear, Tony Rebel, Freddie McGregor and Culture.

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The Daily Egyptian had the opportunity to speak with drummer and singer Terry Bobb to talk about the band’s staple in Midwest reggae.

How did you guys get started as a band?

Eustace, the bass player, and I are brothers and as far as the band, we have been playing since I was nine years old and he was five years old. We played all our little childhood lives in the Caribbean and then we moved to New York in 1976 and started up our own little band in Brooklyn, N.Y. In 1986, we moved to Ohio and did a couple bands and then we started The Ark Band. I don’t remember what year, but it was right close to 1986 … and after moving to Ohio with a couple guys, Eustace and I went back to Jamaica for a whole month. It was basically like going back to school. We learned everything and sucked everything up and when we came back, we thought we might as well start our own band and call it The Ark Band. Once we started the band, from then ’till now, we have had a lot of changes, but the one thing that keeps the band together and keeps the sound of the band … is the same people have been following us for 30 years and these guys still show up. Reggae is basically bass and drums, so no matter who switches around us … the sound always remains the same because Eustace and I have been playing together for so long.

How did moving around so much influence your band?

Since we have become The Ark Band, we have played in every state in the United States except for North and South Dakota. Don’t ask me why, because I am not really sure … once we left New York and came to Ohio, we had to make up our mind. When we came to Ohio, there were ten working reggae bands and I am talking full-time bands. These were guys we wouldn’t dare go up against and were popular and famous. Now, 30 years later, we’ve outlived all these guys. Another reason why we know that and why we believe that now is, like my mom always said, “Two sticks are harder to break than one,” so having Eustace and I, playing the bass and drums, the heartbeat of reggae music, I think we got lucky in that section.

Since you have been together so long, have you seen reggae change over time?

Yeah, the reggae did change, because when we started playing reggae music, there was no such thing as “dance hall reggae,” which came about after. There is roots reggae, which is what we play, and then there’s the dance hall reggae, which is like the rap reggae that came after. That was good for a while because change is good, but [dance hall reggae] doesn’t have the same appeal to the people. Reggae has changed because everything must change, but we on the other hand, we have stuck to the same format. We still play roots reggae, but yes, the band has changed. Every time you change a member the band changes.

What do you hope audiences take away from your shows?

A lot of our music, writings and original songs are basically like Bob Marley’s songs. Nine out of ten Bob Marley songs give praise to the most high … and a lot of Marley’s songs were praises. A lot of it came out of the Bible and the one thing is that he can connect with a lot of people. Everybody is looking for one little piece of righteousness and when Bob Marley came around, his music reached everybody because everybody wants to give thanks and praises to the most high. He would say things like “Jah bless my eyes this morning’, the sun is on the rise once again,” I mean, how could you not relate to that? Our music is basically on the same premise. 

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