Vincent "Biggs" James is a talented Hampton musician who specializes in hard-to-categorize original jams.
He's recorded tunes that include strains of funk, hip-hop, rock and jazz with his main band Seed Is ... . He's also a session musician who has worked with Norfolk's Nottz Raw, a producer who has crafted tracks for Grammy-winning rapper Kanye West.
With Session Rockers, though, James is totally devoted to reggae. That means he plays keyboards instead of his first love, guitar.
"In the reggae community, people love me playing keyboards," James said, "even though my style is not a traditional reggae style. I guess I created my own monster and I'm stuck with that right now."
Session Rockers developed out of a partnership between James and Brian "Jahboo" Boozer. The two reggae fanatics held down a regular Tuesday night DJ gig at Goody's Deli & Pub in downtown Hampton. One thing led to another and, gradually, a group took shape.
"It was a band not trying to be a band," James said. "That was not our goal, but that's what it is now."
James answered the following questions about his overachieving side project and its growing regional popularity.
Explain your name. Jahboo and I went to record some music at his Humble Ark Studio in Hampton. It turned into a series of impromptu sessions. We would start recording without knowing how we were going to end the song. Then, we ran into a singer and it grew from there. Eventually, we opened for reggae star Eek-A-Mouse at The Jewish Mother in Virginia Beach. People liked what we were doing and asked us to keep performing. We liked the feeling of it, so we kept on playing.
Where is the band's home base? Hampton is home base but we are from all over Virginia — Virginia Beach, Richmond, Portsmouth and Tappahannock.
When did the band start? January 2003.
Who plays what? Biggs, keyboards; Jahboo, drums; Dub 1, bass; Ticia Carter, vocals; K Dub, guitar; Marcello, lead guitar/percussion.
Describe your style. It's laid-back and aggressive at the same time. I call it Americanized roots. We have the elements of the Jamaican roots, but we basically play what we are: a combination of jazz, soul and reggae. We mix all those elements together.
Sample set list: No covers, all original — like grandma's homemade biscuits! Our tunes include "Forever," "Everyday" and "I Love It."
What's your favorite local place to play? The Jewish Mother in Virginia Beach. It's a center of reggae in the area partly because Jahboo is a promoter there. That's our main spot. We used to play Sundogs in Corolla, N.C. We get around between here and Richmond and North Carolina.
What local entertainer deserves more attention? Seed Is … [Biggs' main band for many years]. We're still moving ahead, but in the real world, with nine people, nine lives, when you try to move in one direction, it's kind of hard. I feel like when the next Seed Is... CD comes out, it's going to be pretty much what we've been hearing in our heads for quite some time.
What does your group hope to accomplish? To have a Session Rockers CD out in early 2010. We have 12 or 13 songs recorded with our former singer, Black Culture. Then, he moved out of the area ... But it's worked out for the best. Our new vocalist, Ticia Carter, is a world-class singer. I've never been happier with the sound. We definitely have something. It's just a matter of making the right moves at the right time.
Hometown Sounds, a weekly series on local bands and musicians, concludes with this installment. Thanks to all the players and singers who contributed and to readers who helped out by suggesting subjects to be profiled.
News to Use Here's where Session Rockers will perform in coming weeks:Oct. 29, 8:30 p.m. — Dock Taylor's Seaside Market Lounge, corner of Pacific Avenue and 23rd Street, Virginia Beach. FreeFor more on the band, visit myspace.com/sessionrockersCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun