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After spending a decade-plus rocking the Right Coast with their positive vibrations, the surfer-musicians of Jacksonville, FL-based Scholars Word have carved out a niche for themselves as a paradigm of American reggae. Their smooth bass lines and irresistible, skillfully woven melodies combine with soothing vocals and insightful lyrics to create a sound that is distinctly their own, yet maintains close ties to the foundations of the genre. And as far as surf music goes, Scholars Word is about as genuine as it gets.

The ocean has been a major influence on the band since day one, and their unique combo of waveriding and musical talents even landed them a part in recent surf movie Sounds Of Waves, produced by Monumental Films and director Luke Thorpe. Now that they’re embarking on an East Coast tour to help promote the film and spread the word about their hot new album Perseverance, Scholars Word is more in demand than ever. Luckily, bassist and percussionist Michael Stauch still had a few minutes to chat with EasternSurf.com about the band’s beginnings, the messages behind their music, and life on the road.

ESM: First of all, what’s the back-story on you guys?
Michael Stauch: Well, it all started when Bryce Creighton (vocals, guitar, keyboard) and I were both students at the University of North Florida, and we ended up basically living in the same apartment across from the Jacksonville Beach Pier. We both were naturally drawn to reggae and surfing, so we started out here in Jacksonville and found a lot of places to play. Then we spent a couple of years in Tampa, which has a very large Caribbean influence, and then we started traveling the state. We kind of just grew from there.

ESM: How has surfing played into your development as a group?
MS: I think it’s massive. It’s been a huge unifier for us. We’ve worked with a lot of different guys, and our lineup has changed over the years, but one thing that we’ve had in common is that we can all go surfing together. It’s something we can all enjoy.

ESM: How did you guys get involved with the movie Sounds Of Waves?
MS: Scholars Word had been going to Cape Hatteras, NC, and playing the ESA Eastern Surfing Championships for several years. [Sounds Of Waves director] Luke Thorpe picked up one of our early CDs when he was down at Easterns with some friends, and in about 2006, he gave us a call. We’ve been friends ever since, and we’ve always contributed back and forth to each other.

ESM: Aside from the excitement of your movie role, Scholars Word also recently dropped its ninth album, Perseverance. How does it compare to some of your other releases?
MS: They’re all a little different from each other. You always have new ideas, but as much as we try to do something entirely different, it still sounds like Scholars Word. For this album, we basically just tried not to think too hard. We tried to record our ideas, and there are some aspects that we made up as we went along. We weren’t trying to record all 14 songs in two days — instead, we did it over a spaced-out period of time. Maybe it’s a more laid-back recording in a way, but we didn’t necessarily do anything different.

ESM: What would you say is your group’s usual strategy for songwriting?
MS: We don’t have any real strict approach to things. We’re pretty open. One time I’ll make up a tune, and another time Bryce will, and then the next time it will be all of us together. If somebody brings lyrics, we use them, and if somebody brings an idea, we use it. We’re pretty open, and we collaborate pretty well together after all these years.

ESM: As a band, you’re also known for including social commentary in many of your songs. Is there any particular message that you guys are trying to put out there?
MS: When we sit down to write things, sometimes they end up being serious, but it’s not that we’re opposed to having fun tracks, like the typical party songs and girl songs. But I guess when we’ve been hearing about all this stuff in the news, whether it’s an oil spill, or conflicts in some other country, or whatever, we want to make comments about it. The idea is just to get a good message across and hopefully improve on things — not in a complaining kind of way, but hopefully in a positive way that allows us to make a change.

ESM: Do you think people get it?
MS: I’ve always been amazed at how one person’s take on a song can be completely different from another person’s take, so I just hope that people will get what they want out of it. Music is like a painting; people see what they want to see in it, so sometimes we like to let them take away what they will.

ESM: You guys have toured pretty heavily throughout your musical careers, and you’re currently on a new East Coast stint in conjunction with Sounds Of Waves. How do you feel about getting back out on the road?
MS: We’ve been doing this for so long that we’re almost addicted to it. Every time we feel like we’re sick of it and we think, “Oh, lets take a break,” we don’t go more than a month or two before we’re saying, “Hey, lets put some shows together.” I’d be lying if I said that sometimes it doesn’t get old or tiring, but we really thrive off the energy of the people that we’re playing for, so the more fun they have, the more fun we have.

ESM: What does the future have in store for Scholars Word?
MS: If we can continue to play for the next few years and travel a bit more, then I think we’d all be pretty satisfied with it. If something bigger comes along, that would be great too, but either way, we’ve gotten to drive around and surf all up and down the East Coast and California. The best thing is being able to play your original music, have people buy it, and then sing it back to you. It keeps you going, and it motivates you to go do it again. We certainly haven’t gotten rich, and we don’t draw huge crowds all over the place, but we enjoy what we’re doing, and that’s the bottom line.

SCHOLARS WORD TOUR DATES:

7/15 Sundogs (Sounds Of Waves tour)…………….Corolla, NC
7/16 Martin’s (Sounds Of Waves tour)……………..Roanoke, VA
7/17 Purple Fiddle (Sounds Of Waves tour)……….Thomas, WV
7/20 Pour House (Sounds Of Waves tour)…………Charleston, SC
7/21 Aurora……………………………………………. Richmond, VA
7/22 Sundogs (Sounds Of Waves tour)…………….Corolla, NC
7/23 REAL Watersports (Sounds Of Waves tour)…Waves, NC
7/24 Lendys Café ..……………………………………Virginia Beach, VA
7/27 Castaways………………………………………. Ithaca, NY
7/29 Declan Quinns (Sounds Of Waves tour)………Bayshore, NY
7/30 The Cabana……………………………………... Long Beach, NY
7/31 Schooners (Sounds Of Waves tour)...........….Newport News, VA
8/6 Sandbar…………………………………………..Cocoa Beach, FL

 

8/7 Amelia Island Sunsplash……………………………. Amelia Island, FL
8/8 Captain Hiram’s……………………………………… Sebastian, FL
8/12 Mellow Mushroom…………………………………… Jacksonville Beach, FL
8/13 Ace’s Lounge.………………………………………… Bradenton, FL
8/14 Caffeine……………………………………………….. Ormond Beach, FL
8/15 Conch House…………………………………………. St. Augustine, FL
8/28 Caffeine……………………………………………….. Ormond Beach, FL
8/29 Crowne Plaza………………………………………… Melbourne, FL
9/10 Santa Maria…………………………………………… St. Augustine, FL
9/11 Ace’s Lounge.………………………………………… Bradenton, FL
9/12 Conch House…………………………………………. St. Augustine, FL
9/24 Jamrock……………………………………………….. Jacksonville Beach, FL
9/26 Captain Hiram’s………………………………………. Sebastian, FL

NEW Fan Review of "Blaze Your Fire"

Check out fans reviews of SW new song BLAZE YOUR FIRE!!
-"Strong lyrics! Deep. I like the beat ! Switched it up all throughout the song with the feeling of the music! I liked the solo with that saxophone instrument. I would go and buy this album! Sounded professional I liked how he mixed jazz and reggae together. I liked this track awesome! Everything meshed together perfectly the beat and the voice!”
-“I like the singers voices. they are very unique. the males is sort of raspy but the good kind. I really like the lyrics and the 2 singers. The singers really compliment each other with the high voice and the low voice. I would definitely listen to and
recommend this song anytime i could. this song really flows well with a great rhythm and isn't too fast.”
-“one of the most relaxing tracks i have heard. the way the beats keep changing makes the track amazing. The singer has also got an amazing voice. the back up singer is also very good , without her it wouldnt have been as good as it was. Definitely would play this song at a party and would watch how everyone dances to it .”
-“I LOVE THIS MUSIC!!!!! It had such an interesting twist due to the range of various different types of instruments. I would recommend this for old reggae lovers. Also I'd recommend for people who don't usually like reggae music. In conclusion, I REALLY LIKE THIS!”

2010 CD Review of Perseverance

EASTERN SURF MAGAZINE MAY 21, 2010 / rating 9 of 10
I’d like to believe that there are a lot of people out there who are pretty open-minded when it comes to music. Usually, I’d count myself as a member of that group, but when it comes to deciding what I’ll actually put on my iPod, it’s an entirely different story. An iPod playlist is kind of like sacred ground, and only the most worthy songs make the cut. With that said, every single song on Perseverance, the newest album released by Jacksonville, FL-based reggae band Scholars Word, is headed straight for my iPod, and as soon as you give it a listen, I guarantee this album will be making a beeline for yours as well.

Scholars Word take everything good about reggae and weave it together in a new way on Perseverance, staying true to the roots of the music without sounding cliché or imitative. Their steady, pumping bass lines and energetic rhythms combine with a well-proportioned mix of guitar melodies, saxophone jams, and upbeat keyboard effects to produce a completely genuine and electrifying reggae sound. Pair that with lead singer Bryce Creighton’s clear, soothing voice, which captivates on tracks like “Good Feelin” and Searchin,” and you’ve got yourself an album that sounds remarkable from start to finish. And, as if all that weren’t enough, the lyrics of each song provide enlightened social commentary and life lessons that will make you think about the kind of positive impact you can make on the people around you.

Scholars Word are the real deal, and with songs like “Can’t Turn It Off” and “Perseverance Dub,” which have the uncanny ability to instantly put you in a good mood, their ninth album Perseverance demonstrates that they have every aspect of truly modern reggae on lock. By Allison Arteaga

"HOW LONG' review from Reggae Reviews 

January 28, 2007
reggae-reviews.com

"Scholars Word continues to establish themselves as one of the more dependable reggae bands in the US. They achieve a nice balance between pure, "keep it real" reggae and a more accessible "I own three reggae albums" sound -- something akin to Mystic Revealers or Reggae Cowboys. Compared to Tribal Roots, How Long is more of a roots reggae endeavor, with fewer dancehall riddims and DJ deliveries (although guest DJ Zally chimes in on a few tracks) and, as indicated by the subversive title, a more somber tone that leaves little room for the party tracks of the last album. Bryce Creighton sings lead with a piercing growl that accentuates this darker sound,... How Long might not have a standout scorcher, but there's also not a weak spot to be found. The title track and "Double Life" churn along with delicious roots energy, "H.I.M. God" delivers a celebratory Latin infusion, and the wicked saxophone line of "Actions" will have you clamoring for a dub version. How Long is one of those albums you can throw on and not worry about hitting the fast-forward button. If anything, you might want to hit rewind." See scholarsword.com.
4 of 5 MASSIVE!!

'HOW LONG' CD Review from Jammin Reggae Archive / niceup.com

Scholars Word - How Long

Yankee reggae bands usually fall into two camps. One set tries to perfectly imitate Jamaican reggae and the other set takes reggae as a starting point and then heaps on heavy doses of rock, funk, rap etc. Scholars Word leans toward the traditional reggae camp, but also nicely puts their own stamp on things. Sweet saxaphone introduces the title cut and then dubwise effects kick in followed by conscious lyrics about saving the environment and ceasing war. "Part of Me" is a nice insight on the power of how the wordsound power of reggae can impress on people's lives and change them forever. This cd features nine vocal tracks and the atmospheric "proton Dub". If you are fan of conscious US bands like S.O.J.A. and Groundation, Scholars Word would fit nicely in your collection.

Recommended. Ras Adam Simeon
Scholars Word Records

Band Review

Scholars Word are the real deal, and with songs like “Can’t Turn It Off” and “Perseverance Dub,” which have the uncanny ability to instantly put you in a good mood, their ninth album Perseverance demonstrates that they have every aspect of truly modern reggae on lock.

"Perseverance demonstrates that they have every aspect of truly modern reggae on lock."Allison Arteaga

A Few Words about Scholars Word

This is homegrown reggae from the heart by a group that has a grip on roots reggae and a better understanding of what's going on in the world than congress and the president combined. Chuck Foster - The Beat Magazine

ImageFlorida based Scholars Word take a traditional approach to reggae, with heavy drum and bass riddims, thoughtful lyrics and a mystical, slightly ominous tone that makes you tune in and take heed.
- Tom Orr - WorldMusicCentral.Org

From a Fan

Solid performers with a real vibe that can be felt through every song live and on any of their CD's. Quality music and quality musicians.
- Joel Waymire

New Scholars Word, released Dec 2015 is in stores now.