MEET THE BAND: Matthew Roads (vocals), James Begin (trombone/vox), Bobby Chronic (guitar), Darrick Willis (drums), Pags (bass), Derek McBryde (trumpet)
IT CAME FROM KENT: This local jam band formed in 2008 in Kent and famously built a following after self-distributing over 10,000 free copies of its self-produced first EP, Rebirth of the Dope. After releasing its second EP, Tree City Exodus, and relocating to Cleveland, the group opened for acts like Slightly Stoopid, Pepper, the Dirty Heads, Sublime with Rome, Soja, the Wailers and Flobots. In 2011, the group issued its third album, Erie Vibes & Irie Tides; All Heads Unite followed in 2012. After signing to the label run by the jam band Pepper, the group released Heavy is the Head earlier this year and played a few Midwestern dates with the like-minded 311.
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: Heavy is the Head's first single, "Hey Now," a jazzy/hip-hop-inflected call-to-arms, includes inspired lyrics about how the "rich are getting richer and the poor are getting killed." "That song is about the frustration and anger that stemmed out of the 2016 election," says Roads. "People have different ideas about what they want out of life now. I was fiercely anti-Trump." "Leviathan" features gospel-like vocals and rattling percussion. "Leviathan is an internal struggle hymn," says Roads. "I wrote that song about the time that I started to get sober. A lot of it has to do with that and how I was going through a rough patch. I was also driving our school bus to a show on the East Coast, and it's about how the Chesapeake Bay Bridge comes out of the water like a leviathan." "Dollar Saved," a song with a fierce hip-hop segment courtesy of the band's other singer, James Begin, takes a jab at the establishment, something Roads says the band enjoys doing. After playing in Erie last year on New Year's Eve, Roads says the band is happy to return to the Grog Shop for NYE. "We're really excited about the show at the Grog," he says adding that the band is already working on its next album and will spend a few weeks in early 2018 out on tour with the Flobots and another few weeks with Bad Fish. "Things are really picking up," says Roads.
WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: tropidelic.com.
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Tropidelic performs with Vibe & Direct, Bumpin' Uglies and Dutty at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 31, at the Grog Shop..