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Jumbalassy Has Wider Vision

Fri., Jan. 13, 1995

It’s difficult to survive as a reggae band in this country, much less in the Pacific Northwest, especially since the genre has never been a commercial success.

Even when Bob Marley was alive, reggae wasn’t a big hit on these shores.

Because of this, Bellingham’s Jumbalassy has struggled over the years, striving to gain wider recognition in the U.S.

Jumbalassy is well-known in this region.

On its own, the ensemble, which has endured several personnel changes in its 10-year career, has released several albums, including its most recent “Warning: Live Jumbies,” booked its own tours and opened for some of the biggest reggae acts in the world.

While Jumbalassy’s popularity on the West Coast has climbed, elsewhere Jumbalassy is a relative no-name.

The band’s singer Alex Duncan wants his band to tour extensively and record more albums. But to do this, the band needs some hefty financial backing from a major label.

“There’s a lot of things that we’ve accomplished, but we’re still not satisfied,” said Duncan in a phone interview this week. “We want to be signed this year.”

Duncan, who has fronted the reggae and world beat hybrid for two years, grew up in the heart of the Caribbean on the tiny island of St. Kitts.

At a young age, he taught himself how to sing by crooning through a pipe used for draining rain water. When he was 11, Duncan took his talent to the streets where he entertained anyone who would listen. “I would rather sing than eat,” he confessed.

Since Duncan joined Jumbalassy, he has added a broader range of reggae influences - from dance hall to lovers rock - to the already diverse band.

Whether Jumbalassy gains the national attention it deserves, the band is still one of the finest reggae talents in the country.

Saturday’s show at the Big Dipper show starts at 9:30 p.m., the cover is $7. Bring your ID.

Elsewhere in the night

Spokane independent label Too Many Records is holding a record release party for its latest compilation album, “Songs About Drinking,” at Mother’s Pub Saturday.

The list of bands scheduled to play includes: Portland’s Elmer, Detroit’s Sick ‘n’ Tired and Spokane’s Flies and Velvet Pelvis.

Tunes at 9:30 p.m. The cover is $5.

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