Reggae Music in the Bay Area

Reggae music has long been used as a medium for social commentary. Songs often advocate the use of cannabis, considered an integral component of Rastafari belief systems. Many artists also incorporate religious themes, with Matisyahu using Jewish-influenced themes in his reggae music compositions.

Reggae developed from ska and rocky steady, distinguished by a slow-tempo bass beat with instruments accenting on offbeats.


The Bay Area boasts an energetic ska scene, from punk-infused bands such as Slow Gherkin to traditional acts. One of their more well-known bands, “Slow Gherkin”, with their popular horn lines and upbeat guitar accompaniment keeps audiences dancing to catchy songs like “Mega-phone”. Check them out if you want a night filled with dancing!

The band has been performing together for nearly two decades and have toured with some of the most notable reggae artists worldwide. Additionally, they have released critically-acclaimed albums like their live album titled Gilman Street as well as self-titled debut. Additionally, their backing bands such as Hepcat, Aggrolites and Sublime has allowed them to record several noteworthy ska tracks together with them.

Throughout their careers, this band has performed at various venues both domestically and abroad, making an impactful statement about Bay Area music scene. Reggae Gold XL events hosted at Oakland New Parish also regularly see this band perform live!

Ska is an American genre of music originating in Jamaica and heavily influenced by rock and roll, blues and jazz from America. Characterized by fast rhythms with strong beats and an distinctive bass sound. The name comes from its Jamaican roots: it means to shake or sway. Ska first gained widespread popularity during the UK post-punk “2 Tone” movement as well as Orange County Ska scenes later on.

DJ Sofa King has been performing for over two decades and boasts an expansive musical knowledge, from various genres. His passion for music has propelled him into being one of the Bay Area’s premier DJs with many fans enjoying his mixes and unique style; as well as being adept at reading audiences and adapting accordingly – which have made him one of the go-to choice at Bay Area events.


Rocksteady bands are an exciting way to add energy and excitement to any party or special occasion, from weddings, private parties, night clubs and private functions – even wedding rehearsals! Their live musical performances range from old school R&B and funk numbers through Motown disco classics to anything specific you request from them – plus they specialize in learning songs on request! Available for weddings, private events and club performances across the Bay Area they bring an authentic sound that brings excitement and energy into any venue they play at.

The Rocksteady SF group is an impressive Bay Area musical collective who thrive on entertaining their audiences and sharing their passion for music with them. Combining soulful bluesy harmonies, funktastic rock and virtuoso level musicianship into their repertoire of reggae, ska and rocksteady performances they have entertained at various hotels, wineries, country clubs and corporate events throughout California and Nevada.

Their sound draws upon influences from Jamaican first wave and British second wave music, but with a modern edge. A fan favorite at festivals such as Sierra Nevada World Music Festival (Mendocino), Ocean Beach Fest in SF and local celebrations alike; members have performed in multiple local bands over time and enjoy this genre of music immensely.

Daniel has been playing ska, reggae and rocksteady music since 1996; starting his own project to keep this genre alive in 2009. As an accomplished performer who can either perform solo or with his full rocksteady band – as well as being featured at Burning Man precompression events all across Northern California undergrounds! – Daniel continues his legacy today!

Daniel has also performed as the opening act for many acclaimed acts, such as The Melodians, Pato Banton and Israel Vibrations. Additionally he has appeared on KSFO’s Bay to Breakers show.

Hip-hop music has long been an influential genre of Bay Area culture. This year’s Frost Music and Arts Festival lineup boasts Too Short (known for his real estate hustle lyrics in the 1990s) as well as Oakland-based Conscious Daughters as two key names from hip hop’s hyphy movement: Trunk Boiz and Animaniakz.


Spliff Skanking recently asked the audience at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium who liked reggae music, prompting an enthusiastic response that demonstrated its strong appeal among listeners. While dancehall has won over new listeners, roots reggae remains an active form of reggae that holds its own against dancehall.

One of the enduring elements of reggae music is dub, which first emerged during the late 1960s and early 1970s when producers like King Tubby and Lee “Scratch” Perry began manipulating prerecorded tracks to create more spacious sounds with dreamlike qualities by dropping vocals or adding effects. Today dub is considered an integral part of Jamaican culture as well as internationally popular.

Dub has had an immense influence in Britain. Punk rock bands like The Clash were early adopters of dub music in this country, working with Jamaican producers such as Lee “Scratch” Perry (whose version of Police and Thieves made their debut album) and Mikey Dread. Recently, more British bands like Slowdive and Kitchens of Distinction have added dub to their sound, with latter also releasing instrumental album Rhythm Collision Dub Vol 1 as well as remix LP featuring Mad Professor.

Today, dub is still flourishing as a live performance form. Dub Mission, a Bay Area party organization known for throwing dub, reggae, dancehall and jungle events will host straight-up legend Mad Professor at Great Northern this Saturday with Olly McFarlane Mama Pocket Drama as part of the Rhythmic Remedies crew to show his legacy lives on.

Portland five-piece Systemwide will join New York-based mix master Raz Mesinai of Badawi and Bedouin (former Badawi mixmaster), to demonstrate the range of styles that define modern live multicultural dub, a genre with worldwide appeal. As opposed to our typical DJ-based dub nights at Elbo Room, this weekend’s event will include a full live band!


Dancehall was an innovative development in reggae. It featured faster tempos and simpler beats than its predecessors; along with deejay-led chanting and synthesized rhythms; some artists took this new form of music in more conscious directions, writing lyrics that focused on Rastafari or Jamaican culture.

This movement was propelled forward by sound systems and electronic technology which allowed Jamaicans to listen to music outside their homes where radio was unavailable; dancehall also evolved as a form of activism, with artists using their lyrics as a vehicle to push for social reform.

Artists such as King Jammy, Wayne Smith and Madness were pivotal to the rise of this new genre of music. Furthermore, deejays like Buju Banton and Capleton began taking more spiritual approaches in their music and lyrics that further moved away from hardcore slack ragga of the 1980s and 1990s.

At the close of the 1980s, dancehall artists were increasingly advocating sexual liberation and social awareness – topics which made dancehall more appealing to audiences in Western Europe and North America. Dancehall became so widespread that even ska and rock bands used its sounds in live performances.

Digital producers also boosted the dancehall scene, using computers to generate sounds before sending them directly onto a recorder for production – enabling music production at lightning speed for faster-growing genres like dancehall. It soon gained widespread recognition.

Dancehall artists are well-known for their talent on the international stage, having performed alongside some of the biggest names such as Beyonce, Drake and Rihanna on tour. Additionally, these dancehall artists are revered for their strong work ethic and positive message as well as having amassed a sizeable following on social media platforms such as Instagram.

San Francisco Bay Area residents can count themselves lucky to have an abundance of talented Reggae Bands at their disposal, adding Caribbean flair and making your next party truly unforgettable. Many bands provide online booking and secure payments so that you can book them securely.