Charleston native Derek Cribb has earned a reputation in town as an acoustic rock musician, but over the last few years, the multi-talented songwriter has incorporated a pile of reggae and ska tunes into his repertoire. Much of that credit goes to his longtime pal and bandmate John Picard.
"I loved all the Bob Marley stuff when I was younger, but I got more into the deep stuff from the '70s," Cribb says. "I learned from him that when the production quality is really low with a rag-tag drum set, they say it sounds 'yard.' Those are the records with the most personality."
Cribb first started working professionally right out of high school, playing with jam band Sol Driven Train and with his older brothers in a group named the Cribb. Picard has been an in-demand timekeeper in Charleston for years, and he's revered for his solid work as the drummer with Guilt Ridden Troubadour and Mac Leaphart and as a sit-in with the Lowcountry Blues Club. He's also worked with such national bands as John Brown's Body, Col. Bruce Hampton, and Jah Creation.
On top of his busy routine, Picard recently hooked up with North Carolina-based reggae combo the Give Thanks Band. The group — keyboardist Carl Blackman, bassist Tony "Cyberas" Fisher, and guitarist Bass Tommy "Mayonnaise" Holland — will provide the rhythm and flourishes behind a special "reggae showcase" show at the Acme Lowcountry Cantina. "While the Give Thanks Band is based out of Wilmington, it has adopted Charleston as a second home," Picard says. "We backed vocal harmony group the Itals not long ago. This weekend will be our first time backing Derek."
Cribb is genuinely honored and thrilled to have such support at a local venue. "They're real-deal roots reggae guys who've backed up Steve Martinez, the Itals, Culture, and other big groups," he says of the Give Thanks Band. "I'll be front-manning it up."
Cribb's current collaboration with Picard started last year with they assembled reggae-styled groups, Butter Toast and the Cribbulous Quattro. The action continues this summer in Cribb's new home studio. Their most recent self-produced demos include a new fan favorite titled "Costra Nostra," a melodic, organ-accented, mid-tempo number with a modern pop-rock feel a la Jack Johnson and Michael Franti.
As for the reggae at Acme this Friday, Cribb and Picard expect to put several Marley standards in the set list, but they predict the show will go deep into obscurities and vintage ska selections as well. "We're doing all the old ska-style stuff, B-side Peter Tosh, and a few of my originals, too," Cribb says. "We trying to be as obscure and underground as we can with the real skankin' old-school reggae stuff."