NoVa’s SOJA play to thousands in South America. Will they draw the same numbers at home in 2012? (Photo by Sam Erickson)

“It’s kind of a trick,” the 31-year-old says of practice in paradise. “It keeps everybody in the mood instead of going into somebody’s basement in D.C., where it’s 30 degrees outside.”

The seven-piece band from Northern Virginia played in the balmy coastal city of Jaco two nights earlier and have since been enjoying a surf competition being held outside their hotel. The plan for the rest of the week? “Wake up and rock out,” Hemphill says.

They’re rehearsing for a New Year’s Eve gig at Baltimore’s SoundStage — along with more than 200 other performances lined up across the planet next year, including a two-night stand at the 9:30 Club on May 18 and 19. With the band’s fourth album, “Strength to Survive,” dropping on Dave Matthews’s ATO Records on Jan. 31, Hemphill hopes that 2012 will be the year SOJA begins to feel the same embrace at home that it has been enjoying overseas for years.


Read the rest of this Sunday Washington Post story here.