‘Strength’ to Thrive

White reggae groups and black rock bands have something in common: Critics are usually describing their members’ skin color before addressing their music. It will be this way until, as the late Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie told the United Nations in 1963, “the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes.” But since the post-racial society is a dream, SOJA’s most obvious characteristic is still its melanin deficiencies.

The veteran Arlington ensemble mostly manages to mute the issue by writing tunes that don’t sound like pasty jam-band approximations of reggae. And though SOJA’s new album, “Strength to Survive,” is on Dave Matthews’ ATO label and the group does receive a ton of support from patchouli-bathers, its songs sound plucked from the politically conscious 1970s roots-reggae scene. Singer Jacob Hemphill, center, has a boatload of charisma, too, which helps win over audiences regardless of race. Now, if society would just let him.

9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW; May 18 & 19, 8 p.m., $22.50; 202-265-0930. (U Street)

express

express

Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Comments
Show Comments
Most Read

express

express

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Next Story
Jessie Baylin revives her sound after a major-label letdown
Stephen M. Deusner · February 27, 2012