10 Ft Ganja Plant was born from a desire to play the only music most of us knew how, and to water the tree that had borne each of us such abundant fruit, and yet in the summer of 1999, seemed in danger of disappearing from the world… Roots Reggae. Being collectors of the music, we sought out many pieces of vintage equipment to make these records. At the time, most of us were out touring for several weeks at a time with John Brown’s Body. We would get off the road and run to the studio, which at the time was called “Mang Studio”, or, as some of us called it, home, and try out ideas for new songs. Throughout the summer’s long, sweltering sessions, we would frequently take breaks, hitting the rooftop to get a breath of fresh air and watch and wait for the next track to begin to materialize, usually right out of the thick air. Then back down to put it to tape. Raw.
The amount of material we were creating began to grow quickly and something clicked inside us all. The album Presents debuted in 2000 and was released on the Ithaca based imprint known as I- Town Records. As we continued to build up an arsenal of music we decided to present the next batch of material (recorded on consumer JVC cassette decks) to a friend. In doing so our family grew to include the underground NYC record label ROIR! (Reach Out International Records). From there we continued to grow as a group of friends and family, musicians and engineers. The Plant has always been all about the music and what follows is a chronology of the subsequent releases.
The first release with ROIR was Hillside Airstrip in 2001. The sound began to develop as any number of musical friends would stop through for vibes on any given day. From this point on, the studio was like a revolving door of musicians cutting tracks and trying out new song ideas. We never included credits in the liner notes, as tribute to all the unnamed heros of Jamaican music who gave so much to the world, for no material gain, but for a chance to be heard. Not for vanity, but for the upliftment of humanity.
Midnight Landing arrived in 2003 reiterating the band’s passion for music deeply rooted in the mid to late 70′s Jamaican style. The bass got heavier and the drums bigger, the melodies stronger and the ganja smoke thicker. Bass Chalice followed in 2005. Touring slowed for some, life decisions took people into different parts of the world and realms of music. A short break was taken to gather the vibes, build a new studio and lay the foundation for what would become Bush Rock which was released in 2009, reaching new levels of psychedelic sounds and heavy bass.
After Bush Rock was released, we began to look farther back to classic sounds of groups like The Upsetters, Silvertones, Pioneers, Gladiators, Gregory Isaacs, Lee Perry, The Maytones, Burning Spear and some of the great instrumentalists that graced their tracks, such as Ernest Ranglin, Lynn Taitt, Jackie Mittoo, Carlton and Family Man Barrett, and countless others. We had grown together and evolved the sound to a point where a return to the deepest root was in order. In April of 2010 the Plant decided to do a quick, fully instrumental record as a special digitalonly release to coincide with the launch of 10ftganjaplant.com. The idea behind what has become the Deadly Shots Trilogy was to take a more relaxed and natural approach to playing riddims that were just pure vibe, to give folks just a little more music to enjoy in the summer months, featuring one predominant instrument on each record. It was decided that the Saxophone would carry 10 Deadly Shots Volume I.
For the next several records the harvests continue to alternate between the all instrumental, bare bones treatment, and the other, “dubbier” end of the production spectrum. 2011 yielded the next vocal album, Shake Up The Place, featuring two brand new original songs by classic Jamaican singer Sylford Walker, as well as two chats by the incomparable Prince Jazzbo. Also sprinkled in were a couple of big new tunes from 10ft regulars Jay Champany and Kevin Kinsella, and a few hard core dubs to round out the tracklist. Shake Up The Placestayed at the top of the iTunes reggae charts for longer than we thought possible and a quick search for 10ft. on youtube revealed that our music was now on the global stage.
The 10ft Ganja Plant story could have ended there. After a decade of making the music we all felt so deep in our bones, hearing the voices of our musical heroes gracing the tracks, seeing over million youtube hits on “Chalwa” (Track 1 on our debut release), mostly in South America and Europe, it would have been easy to enjoy these accomplishments, lose momentum and not do much of anything for a while. But as it turned out there were two things that needed doing right away.
Roger Rivas (of Aggrolites fame) had been doing some work in town and the idea to feature his wicked organ style on 10 Deadly Shots Volume II was a no brainer and the chance could not be missed. We spent two days in the studio and decided to strike up the band for a big CD release party in April of 2012. It was our first gig since our fledgling years and tickets were sold out within a few weeks of going on sale. We had a blast and played a decent enough show. Now that we had finally taken it to the stage it was hard to go back to being strictly a studio band. We had rediscovered the thrill of flying freehand.
2013 brought 10 Ft. Ganja Plant’s 9th full length release for ROIR records, Skycatcher. All lead vocals came from the core members of the Plant this time, with one song coming from Nate Silas Richardson, his first lead vocal since Bass Chalice in 2005. Hitting the streets September 24th and preceded by a special performance for 550 people, Skycatcher was the year’s freshest harvest and most potent strain.
2014 follows up on the Third and final installment of the 10 Deadly Shots series. 10 Deadly Shots Vol. III features the band lead guitarist Nate Silas Richardson in the starring role .The album release party will be at the Sinclair in Cambridge Massachusetts on August 15th followed by the Bowery Ballroom in NYC on August 16th. The extended 10 Ft Ganja Plant musical family will be there. We hope you will be there too!