On Mon. Oct. 2, Santa Cruz-based electronic groove combo Sound Tribe Sector 9 carefully make their way back to Charleston to headline a fund-raiser event at the Charleston Music Hall for the “Vegetation Vibration” group.
The event is aimed at raising money and awareness for the Jef Jel Project, who regularly donate effort and money to a “dying village” in Africa. The event is produced by Domain Media and One World Vibrations.
According to “Vegetation Vibration” event co-producer Alfred Garrett (of One World Vibrations), the Senegal village of Ndangane desperately needs food, water, shelter, clothes, electricity, education facilities, and medicine. Garrett visited Ndangane earlier this year and helped the village establish their first freshwater pipeline. With this week’s event, he hopes to take further steps in aiding the village.
“We were thanked repeatedly for bringing them water — the stuff we use liberally on our flower gardens or shower with … something Americans take for granted,” he says.
Now that Ndangane has water, there’s great opportunity for them to establish sustainable farms. The money raised will go directly to buying plants, tools, trees to stop erosion, and agricultural education.
“Vegetation Vibration” is a fundraising event with all proceeds going to the African Jef Jel Project — a grassroots economic development project founded a decade ago by Karim Ndiaye and Kellie Lartique, a Senegalese/American couple.
Garrett feels that Sound Tribe Sector 9’s participation and performance will bring plenty to the relief effort.
“Sound Tribe Sector 9 has been involved from the beginning,” he says. “When STS9 first came together, they would play house parties for us, raising funds for the Jef Jel Project. Since they’re now internationally recognized, we hope this will bring a lot of financial relief to the village and will make people more aware of the little things we can do to help others.”
“The fact that STS9 has become famous and is still helping the small, grass-roots organization like the Jef Jel Project, says a lot about the band,” says co-organizer Olvia Pool, of Domain. “Their participation in this cause is truly fantastic because it will allow us to reach a larger group of young people, some of whom may not have been aware of this benefit. I’m sure there are STS9 fans out there that have no idea their $25 is going to help a small village in Africa, and are simply just coming to see a great show.
“I think fundraisers are best when you are able to pair a great cause with something people love to do anyway,” she adds. “It makes giving easy and fun. I think that this particular ‘vibration’ event will be the best, and most productive one yet.”
Sound Tribe bassist David Murphy, drummer Zach Velmer, and guitarist Hunter Brown formed the group in Athens, Ga., in 1998 under the name “Sector 9.”
Keyboardist David Phipps and percussionist Jeffree Lerner joined shortly thereafter. In their early days, the band stayed busy in the smaller clubs of Athens and Atlanta.
In 2000, they readied a release of the drum’n’bass-tinged Offered Schematics Suggesting Peace. Right before that album was released, they relocated permanently to Calif., just outside the San Francisco Bay.
Their sound evolved into a complex mix of genres — equal parts modern electric jazz, rock-oriented grooves, modern techno beats over “electronic” stylings, and the trippier sides of acid-jazz and house.
STS9 toured constantly. They recently released an ambitious, fancy-packed, two-disc live album titled Seasons 01 on their own Sacred Sound Ascension label. The collection was a culmination of live and “field” recordings during their tours and marked their explorations into the sonic territory of dance club breakbeats and electronica.
Nowadays, they regularly headline large music halls and music festivals in front of large audiences across North America.
After years of work on the road, bassist David Murphy says that he and his colleagues sometimes still can’t believe the growing size of the crowds and the rousing responses from fans. “It’s crazy. It’s not even real for me sometimes,” he says. “And it’s been amazing, the caliber of musicians we’ve been able to work with. We’ve matured musically since those early days.”
STS9 officially released a pair of companion albums, Artifact and Artifact: Perspectives, a remix collection featuring new versions of certain songs with ultra-groovy collaborations between the band and such experimental musicians as Bill Laswell, Bassnectar, Karsh Kale, and others.
STS9’s 2006 fall tour, which launched from Boulder, Colo.’s Fox Theatre on Sept. 8, celebrates the release of their long-awaited DVD Live As Time Changes — featuring live concert footage filmed over three sold-out nights during New Year’s Eve weekend last year at The Tabernacle in Atlanta. The disc will be available at the show this week and in stores nationwide next week.
“All ‘Vibration’ events raise money and awareness through music,” says Garrett. “It’s about people helping one another. I think many people here forget about how lucky they are and how much they take for granted.”