Looking back through history of Reggae, it’s hard not to notice how an artist’s atmosphere affects the music they make.
Whether it be the Jamaican strife that shaped the social commentary of Bob Marley, the laid-back west coast vibes of many modern reggae acts or even the unique beachy atmosphere of the Carolina Coast, there’s no doubt that surroundings can help shape your sound.
This concept is especially true for a group of four local musicians who need to look no further than their own home for musical inspiration.
Since moving in together last fall, roommates Rob Taylor and P.J. Theilmann of Humble Vibez and Trey Moody and Jeremy Anderson of Treehouse! have built a friendship and a strong working relationship.
“This has become the command center for our band. With our practice space right here and being able to work with these guys. It’s definitely helped me focus and I’ve just put out a bunch of different stuff and booked a ton of new gigs,” says Anderson about the arrangement.
The latest in the rewards this relationship has yielded is an opportunity for the two bands to share the stage at the House of Blues for the first time Saturday night. Also joining them will be frequent Treehouse! collaborator — and occasional couch crasher — Jay D Clark as well as Asheville-based quartet Jahman Brahman.
The show, the latest in the Myrtle Beach Rocks concert series will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door and there are plenty of free tickets are available through the bands.
Myrtle Beach Music: From left, Treehouse drummer Trey Moody, Jay D Clark, Humble Vibez's Rob Taylor and Treehouse frontman Jeremy Anderson jam at their home near the Back Gate in Myrtle Beach.
Moving Out, Moving In
Though they didn’t realize what it would become at the time, the friendship between bands began last April with both performing at the Boathouse’s Reggae on the Waterway show.
“We had started playing more and more and we took a shot at playing the Boathouse and we met these guys,” said Taylor, Humble Vibez’s frontman. “From there, we just started going to their gigs and seeing them at our gigs.”
Not long after Anderson and Moody began looking to improve their living situation.
“We were looking for a place where we could make music and not worry about people being right above us,” said Anderson. “Our old apartment was nice being right next to the Boathouse, right next to Ron Jon’s but we had multiple complaints and were probably on the verge of getting kicked out just from making too much noise.”
In September, the friends decided on a standalone house near the Back Gate, joined by Theilmann and Taylor. And while they the current house has been more conducive to making music, Anderson was sure to note their jam sessions haven’t been completely without consequence.
“We’ve had a few little run-ins down here,” said Anderson. “I think we’re still the black sheep of the neighborhood, but for the most part our neighbors have been pretty cool.”
Myrtle Beach Muisc: Rob Taylor and Jeremy Anderson jam together in their living room, which is decorated with many Reggae-themed items including a Bob Marley lava lamp.
Aside from the house itself, the vibe of having four people moving toward a common goal is one that is special to its residents.
“Music is just going around all the time here. We’re constantly talking about music and what to do as band,” says Taylor. “It’s a real good vibe and everybody gets along.”
Another big part of the benefit of living together has been in the synergies that come from spending every day with people with different influences and skillsets.
“I feel like Rob’s taste in music has really helped expand my world and opened my eyes to a lot more Roots Reggae and different styles of music,” says Anderson. “I’m never really good at diving into new things for myself, and so having some awesome Reggae tune coming out of that room at all times has helped me with some ideas and things.”
While sharing his music and his knack for neatness, Taylor — the house’s elder statesman — has also learned a lot from watching Treehouse’s pair of ambitious twentysomethings.
“They way they inspire us is just with some of the things their doing — like for them to play with The Wailers in Charleston, that’d be ‘Mission Complete’ for me. But really, they’ve showed me that the way is just to not be scared and throw your originals out there and see what happens.”
According to Taylor, Humble Vibez is now writing original material and will continue to rely on Treehouse’s knowledge base when it comes to how to produce it and move forward with the process of making more of their own music.”
“We’d never really tried to make our own stuff. We always just thought it’d be a weekend thing where we play for tourists and stuff like that,” he said. “I was really just here to jam, but after seeing how this brother works — sometimes on the computer until 4 and 5 a.m. — it’s been an inspiration.”
Blowing up the scene
Even with all the growth their living situation has helped facilitate, the members of the house remain focused on the bigger picture of growing the local market for Reggae music.
“I think the atmosphere for Reggae music is great here and it’s still growing. I’ve been coming here for a year now and I’ve been blessed to be able to play with a great local band that’s on the rise and trying to do some big things,” says Clark, an honorary member of the house’s extended family.
The Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter hasn’t returned to his hometown — “It’s cold up there man,” he says — since coming to play a show with Treehouse! at The Music Farm in December.
Myrtle Beach Music: Treehouse performs at the House of Blues last April.An experienced musician that’s toured the East Coast and beyond, Clark believes that what’s been happening here behind the efforts of bands such as Treehouse, Humble Vibez and others is something special.
“Lately, here I definitely feel like we’ve been building a nice scene of people who come and support the shows. I’ve had people say ‘I have so much fun at your shows because I see people I met at the last show, they’re so friendly and we’re all getting to know each other, etc.,” he said.
In addition to building locally, Anderson sees the area is a great stepping stone for advancing his band’s pursuits beyond the Grand Strand.
“This is a great homebase. We can do a lot here in the summer that a lot of bands can’t do,” he said.
But with the opportunities of this seasonal town also comes the struggles of trying maintain through the off season and trying to promote shows in the same city every weekend.
“You can only say ‘Hey, this event is even better than last week’s’ or ‘You gotta be here even though you were here last night!’ so many times. After awhile it kinda dilutes the whole thing and that’s really why we’re trying to get out of town more ... so people miss us a little bit.”
Still, the overall potential for growth in the music community remains high in the minds of the guys in the house.
“In addition to just being focused on gaining fans, we’re trying to make it more of a community,” says Anderson. “ We want to make it so that people are coming to see Treehouse! to see their friends and to see the 20 hula hoopers or whatever … it’s about the spectacle of it and giving people a good time.”
Taylor says he’s looking forward to this year as another year that things can grow for all parties involved.
“We’re pretty much just trying to blow up the music scene over here and let people know that people in Myrtle Beach can jam too,” he says.