Bonnaroo 2016: Bonnaroo’s first band is Nashville’s Roots of a Rebellion


Nashville-based reggae rockers Roots of a Rebellion have been building a steady local fan base for several years and relish the chance to play in front of their biggest and most eclectic audience yet at Bonnaroo.

“We’re really excited to play,” said guitarist Marco Martinez in a recent phone interview.

The group is set to perform at 5 p.m. Thursday at the New Music on Tap Lounge stage at the 15th annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, which begins Thursday and continues through Sunday outside Manchester, Tenn.

Roots of a Rebellion earned the spot by winning this year’s BMI Road to Bonnaroo competition, which took place over several weeks at Nashville nightclub Mercy Lounge.

“We were a little bit reluctant to do (Road to Bonnaroo) because there were so many hometown shows,” Martinez said, “and it’s a lot to ask of your fans to come out several weeks in a row. … We decided we wanted to go for it, though, because the benefit of potentially playing Bonnaroo was worth it.”

Composed of Austin Smith, Adam Quellhorst, Troy Wiggins, Jeremyck Smith, Justin Smith and Martinez, the reggae outfit met at Belmont University and formed five years ago. It’s the city and their fans, affectionately named the “Roots Crew,” to which the band also known as R.O.A.R. credits its success.

“The caliber of music that comes through the town is just unrivaled in any other city,” Martinez said. “Being in such a quality music environment has set the bar really high for us.”

Accolades for Roots of a Rebellion include being voted Best Local Band by Nashville Scene readers in Best of Nashville 2015. Local radio station WRLT-FM Lightning 100 jumped on board the band’s first EP, 2012’s “Inner Light,” as well as subsequent 2014 full-length album “Heartifact” in 2014.

“They’ve always pushed our music really hard and supported the local Tennessee reggae scene,” Martinez said of the radio station.

“Another place that’s taken us under their wing since day one is the whole team at Exit/In,” Martinez said of the historic Midtown nightclub. “They’ve really helped us build up the Nashville reggae scene.”

As for the rest of the summer, Roots of a Rebellion plans to debut single “Peace and Love” while continuing their Paid in Peace tour across the United States ahead of the release of their second album, “A Brother’s Instinct,” which is set for July 8. The release show for the new record is scheduled for July 9 at Exit/In.

“With this record, we really wanted to make sure that whoever we did the record with, and wherever we did it, that it was gonna push us as musicians first and foremost and also as songwriters,” Martinez said.

This led them to leave their comfort zone of recording and producing their own projects with friends and reach out to veteran reggae engineer Craig “Dubfader” Welsch and head to Boston to make the album.

“(Welsch) very much had a hand in crafting the best version of ourselves and the best version of the songs,” Martinez said. “It’s not as heavy rock as our previous stuff.”

Roots of a Rebellion will be playing at Bonnaroo’s New Music on Tap Lounge on Thursday at 5 p.m.

This article was published in cooperation with the Seigenthaler News Service. To see the version of this article that ran in The Tennessean, click here.

To see our full archive of Bonnaroo coverage, click here.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Olivia Ladd email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

For more updates, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter/Instagram at @Sidelines_Life.

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