Few groups have played reggae outside Jamaica as convincingly as the Blue Riddim Band from Kansas City. The members of Blue Riddim, unlike many upstart reggae musicians, are accomplished players with jazz and R&B histories. The band members’ understanding of the jazz and R&B roots of Jamaican music is a key to their ability to play it.
Drawing primary influences from the foundations of Coxson Dodd’s Studio One label and Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle label, Blue Riddim flourished by playing the same “rock steady” rhythms that became the basis for all subsequent Jamaican music. While other non-Jamaican reggae bands fell into the trap of trying to reproduce the polished, crossover sound of Bob Marley and The Wailers, Blue Riddim diversified itself into an outfit that could play ska, rock steady, and rockers reggae. Blue Riddim in JamaicaThe group’s full length album, Alive in Jamaica, documents their triumphant Jamaican debut at Sunsplash in August of 1982. Blue Riddim was the first American reggae band to play at the prestigious annual festival. The Sunsplash audience went crazy for Blue Riddim.
The band’s success was due to the general absence of “oldies” ska and rock steady from Jamaican stage shows and dancehall in the early 80s. In addition, Blue Riddim was unanimously acclaimed as the best performer at Reggae Sunsplash 82, and it seemed like the sky would be the limit for the band. Unfortunately,adversity was just around the corner. Regrettably, a farcical managerial arrangement fell apart by the mid-80s and the Blue Riddim Band was forced to quit using its well-established name. Despite this adversity, the Alive In Jamaica album was nominated for a Grammy in 1986. Blue Riddim Band remains the only American reggae band to EVER be nominated for for best reggae album of the year. The band’s new colloborative effort with the Rougher All Stars, “Enter the Riddim”
Blue Riddim Band members: Bob Zohn (guitar,vocals), Drew Myers (bass, trombone,harmony), Scott Korchak(guitar, trumpet, vocals), Steve “Duck” McLane (drums), Howard Yukon (guitar), Pat Pearce (piano, organ), Jack Blackett (saxophone, percussion). At the Sunsplash performance in 1982, Jimmy Becker played harmonica and Ken Sutchar played piano and organ.