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Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad plays all types of music

This is one band ignoring the common refrain "I listen to everything but country."  Credit: Perin Gurel This is one band ignoring the common refrain "I listen to everything but country."
Credit: Perin Gurel

To dub or not to dub, that is the question.

The members of the reggae jam band Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad faced a bit of a fan backlash when they delved into country music on 2012's appropriately titled album "Country."

"To us, it was a case that our audience didn't know us well enough, we thought," says Giant Panda bassist and co-songwriter James Searl. "We actually play a lot of different types of music and we love all kinds of genres and they influence all of us."

It won’t be a country-only affair when the band plays this week.

"It definitely backfired for some people,” Searl says “We had some fans that said, 'Hey, I heard that album ‘Country’ and then I stopped listening' or 'You guys turned into a country band and I stopped listening, I only listen to reggae music.’"

The reggae purists failed to note that reggae and country music do have a historical connection. An early Bob Marley hit was a cover of Claude Gray's country song "I'll Just Have Another Cup of Coffee" and it was Marley who first said, "I Shot The Sheriff."

An obscure, country-playing Jamaican performer named Jamaican Cowboy inspired the Giant Panda guys to go country.

"Jamaicans love country music," Searl says. "We play all sorts of music and we're influenced by everything and this is just reflection of that."

Alas, the guys, who are from Rochester, N.Y., reverted to their reggae roots with "In These Times," which dropped about three months after "Country." The album is full of Giant Panda's tasty reggae grooves, soaked in dub.

At its core, dub refers to the musical emphasis of bass and drum. It will be present as the band gets ready for an active year of new releases, which includes a new single in the next month or two.

"We have dub in our name but dub is the approach that we like to take," Searl says. "How you perform the bass line is important, the drums are important, their pace and dimension is really important. It’s everybody is doing something simple to contribute to a greater sound."

New York City
Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
with The RBC and InDaze
Wednesday, Oct. 2, 8 p.m.
Sullivan Hall
214 Sullivan St.
$12
www.sullivanhallnyc.com

Boston
Moe. with Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
Saturday, Oct. 5, 7 p.m.
Orpheum Theatre
1 Hamilton Place, Boston
$28-$38, 617-482-0106; 617-482-0106
www.orpheumtheatreboston.com

Philadelphia
Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
with Kings & Comrades and 44 Steady
Sunday, Oct. 6, 9 p.m.
The Blockley
3801 Chestnut St.
$10/$15 day of show, 215-222-1234
www.theblockley.com

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