The Herbivores - Seattle, Wa

Jim Matthiessen, founder of The Herbivores - Seattle, WAThe Herbivores - Seattle, WA
Say Yes CD Review
by Pat Ferris

While I was working my way through college in the late 80's, I played in several bands to make some extra cash on the side.  One of the bands had a weekly gig at a club in Seattle's University District called The University Bistro, which is long closed down. 

We had every Wednesday nite, and every Thursday was an original reggae-rock band that was just getting started, who called themselves The Herbivores.  When I met Jim and Share (the co-founders), Jim had amazing dreads that came down to the middle of his back, and share had some started that were about shoulder length.  They also had a true virtuoso lead guitarist in Jay Roberts, son of the jazz guitar giant, Howard Roberts.

Ten years later, the dreads are ankle lenth, the grooves are more solid and the songs, arrangements, message and leads are totally mind-blowing!  Say Yes, their latest CD released this January, shows off the talents they put into their live mixes, no over-dubs, no cheating!  The opening cut, Drop the Baggage, from their debut album Genetic Behaviour lays down the groove that the Herbivores have been giving to Seattle for over a decade.  With the addition of Jay's long time friend Dann McCormack on keyboards, the dimensions of the band spread far beyond standard reggae.  Losing Battle is a harder edged rock song, while It Takes Work is upbeat jazz/ska...almost be-bop, which really shows off the guitar work of Jay.

The main headline band at Hempfest 1999 (click for review), they can be seen at Seattle's larger clubs and festivals as well as occaisional tours along the West Coast hitting places like the Roots River Reggae festival in California.  "We're looking for some honest and real management that can take us where we want to go", says  Matthiessen.   "We're into touring, but we still have to make sure we aren't starving when we go...we're ready for a major tour." 

And from the reaction of the crowd that follows their shows, they shouldn't have any problems filling large venues in reggae-friendly towns (Jasper Texas isn't recommended!).  Watch for them on tour this summer, and in the very least, pick up a copy of their live CD.  If you're into roots, rock, reggae with a jazz twist, Say Yes will make a nice addition to your collection.  For more information, MP3's hemp merchandise and more, visit their website a