Back to the Roots

A local band will bring reggae back to its roots of love and spirituality in the White House restaurant Monday.

The Roots Foundation plays its original classic reggae songs in the style of Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff. Singer Kurt Mahoney said the five-person group tries to promote love and equality through its music.

“I say we give you brain food to think on and your soul food to digest, and your body and your feet food to dance," Mahoney said. “Every aspect. Head, heart, soul, feet."

The band’s sound takes reggae to its Jamaican roots, with joyful, peaceful music. The group’s drummer, John Carbone, keeps the pace of the music slow and steady. The sound of Cedric Bravo’s saxophone eases the music with exuberant melodies, while Mahoney plays chords on his steel guitar.


Mahoney says his group plays music based on the spiritual themes of love and peace. His group plays feel-good music, as opposed to the punk rock sound of California reggae bands such as Sublime.

“You know, reggae is a social music," Mahoney said. “It’s a cultural music. That’s really as big a part of reggae as the bass or the drums. It’s the social, cultural aspect of reggae, the spirituality of it. And that California reggae groups, Sublime and all that stuff, it’s more about the party. You know, it really is, as opposed to the themes that reggae deals with as far as equality and raising your consciousness and peace and love and spirituality and all those things."

Mahoney said that bands such as the Beatles influenced his style. As a child, he said he listened to all sorts of country music on the radio in Wisconsin.

“My father used to sing Hank Williams in the shower," Mahoney said. “So I heard country and I heard what was on the radio and I was into music. And then seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan kind of changed my life. So it just developed from there."


Mahoney has played music for more than 40 years. According to the band’s website, Mahoney started many other groups before the Roots Foundation. One of his bands, which started in 1987, Eyes of the World, gained a wide reputation as a club band. When the group broke up, he started playing as a soloist in 1991.

“So I worked as a side man in other bands and worked solo acoustic gigs. Worked in a jazz band, did some things, and basically after a few years of being a freelancer and a side man and doing solo stuff, I decided it was time to form a new band again. And that’s where Roots Foundation kind of started coming together, about 1996."

Mahoney is working in plenty of bands, including the Blue Rose Band and Hippies on Jazz. However, Mahoney said that he’s been able to keep himself busiest with the reggae band.

“There are still quite a few places that book reggae music on a daily basis," Mahoney said. “You’ve got the White House in Laguna Beach every Monday. But as a folk singer, for instance, solo acoustic, there’s not as much work as long as you’re willing to play for free. So I’ve just been able to keep busier with the reggae band, and of course, I love it. It’s a huge part of my life."

The Roots Foundation’s free concert is at 9 p.m. The concert is for guests 21 and older.

The Roots Foundation is promoting its third album, “Conscious Revolution." The album is available at the Sound Spectrum, 1264 S. Coast Hwy. It is also available at