Not everyday a reggae band is born in Maple Ridge.
But three years ago, at Rory Dafoe’s house in Hammond, that is exactly what happened.
Dafoe asked his wife if he could start a monthly, informal reggae music jam to find other people interested in the music and “to help them learn the genre and its particular styles and nuances.”
At the beginning, Dafoe had an informative Facebook page where people could listen to the original tracks and learn about the music before attending the jam.
People came and went but after a while the same people showed up month after month. And after a year of playing together they decided to form a band and play publicly.
Dafoe, who hails from Toronto, has been playing the guitar for more than 40 years.
What draws him to reggae is the positive message.
“It’s about equal rights, it’s about justice,” he said, adding that it is primarily a folk music of the people.
MRRJ is made up of Aaron Ross on drums; Rhonda Schultz on keyboard and vocals; Rory Dafoe on guitar and vocals; and Joel Pearce on bass and vocals.
For the past two years, MRRJ have performed throughout the Fraser Valley and up and down the Whistler-Pemberton corridor.
They play the golden age of reggae music from the 1970s and 1980s.
“From when reggae music was busting out of the little island of Jamaica, thanks to innovators such as Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, who brought reggae music to a worldwide audience,” said Dafoe of the musicians he enjoys paying homage to.
“We do a lot of music of the bands that really focus on the three-piece harmony work,” said Dafoe.
This year, they will be opening the Caribbean Festival in Maple Ridge on the Marley stage at 1 p.m. on Aug. 3, where Dafoe promises a musical journey of the classics.
They will also by entertaining at the free launch show starting at 5 p.m. on Aug. 1 at the gazebo in Memorial Peace Park, downtown Maple Ridge. MRRJ will be taking the stage at 6 p.m.
The 19th annual Maple Ridge Caribbean Festival takes place Aug. 3 from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. and from noon to 8 p.m. on Aug. 4 at the Albion Fairgrounds, 23448 Jim Robson Way, in Maple Ridge.
Entertainment on Saturday will be kicked off by MRRJ, followed by Boomdaddy, Ardent Tribe, Pendomoja, Los Furios and Ezra Kwizera. Headlining Saturday night will be The Hitsville USA Band who will be playing 60 years of Motown Tribute.
On Sunday, entertainment will be started by Bounty Hunta, followed by East Van Allstars, VOC Sweet Gospel Choir, Kingfish, Mostly Marley, an audience participation dance, Tropical Breeze, Carl Soundvibes and the Phase 3 steel drum band.
The launch party on Aug. 1 will also include the ASI SOMOS Quartet and the Sweet Pan Steel Drum Band.