Deep hit from Jamaica’s reggae roots

Legendary Israel Vibration to appear with Taos’ Iriebellion


Taos Mesa Brewing and Roots and Wires Presents team up to bring reggae artists Israel Vibration to Taos. Backed by Roots Radics, Israel Vibration (aka I-Vibes) will be stirring it up with the sweet harmonious sounds of their Jamaican roots. Opening the show, is Taos’ own Iriebellion.

The show takes place Friday (Nov. 17) from 7-10 p.m. at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership, 20 ABC Mesa Road, off of U.S. 64 west.

“Israel Vibration is one of Roots and Wires all-time favorite reggae acts,” said Roots and Wires’ Jerry Schwartz. “Not only have they produced some of the sweetest reggae music in the world for over 40 years now but they have toured the world consistently for that time period and done so under the duress of physical handicap.”

Schwartz refers to the fact that lead singers Cecil “Skelly” Spence and Lascelle “Wiss” Bulgin were both struck by polio in childhood, as was Albert “Apple Gabriel” Craig, another original band member. The three boys first met as children at the Mona Rehabilitation Center in Jamaica, a place that provided specialized medical care for their condition. After discovering their faith of Rastafari and the music of reggae, they began writing and singing songs to express their spiritual beliefs. They began recording in 1976 and quickly gained international attention.

In 1982, Israel Vibration moved to New York; the three singers split up and tried to develop solo careers, but eventually, they reunited and worked with Gary “Dr. Dread” Himmelfarb, who founded RAS Records. In 1997, Apple Gabriel left Israel Vibrations, and Skelly and Wiss continued on their own, backed by their longtime colleagues, Roots Radics.

“The Roots Radics are ‘I-Vibes’ preferred backing band for many years now,” said Schwartz. “They are a legendary band in their own right and have collaborated with all of Jamaica’s top reggae artists. We are lucky to have them along with I-Vibes since that is not always possible.”

Roots Radics has played with artists like Bunny Wailer, Gregory Isaacs, Michael Prophet, Eek-A-Mouse. As a studio and stage band, they are well-known and respected.

Iriebellion is a newer Taos reggae band that is making waves on the local scene. The band is made up of a group of seasoned musicians: guitarists Reyes Cisneros and Harlan Kesson Tafoya, drummer Lincoln Montes, trombonist Mike Davis and bassist Michelle Chandler. Their music is influenced by ska, hip hop, roots and Latin music. For their opening set, Iriebellion plans to play some of their more traditional sounding roots reggae songs.

Asked how he feels about opening for Israel Vibration, Cisneros kept his words simple and to the point. “It’s an honor,” said Cisneros. “They are icons in reggae music.”

With Israel Vibration, Roots Radics and Iriebellion on stage, this show is nothing short of an all-out reggae party. “I am looking forward to what should be a night of very special music,” said Schwartz.

Although this will likely be the last big reggae show of the year in Taos, Iriebellion will be performing again at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership on Nov. 30.

Tickets are $15 at the door, and are available in advance at Heads Up Music, 216 Paseo del Pueblo Norte; Taos Mesa Brewing; or online at