Reggae Band of the Year: Well Charged 

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Ruta Smith

The seemingly effortless groove that Well Charged applies to their reggae rhythms has almost two decades of history behind it. Drummer John Picard estimates that he and bassist Vasily Punsalan have been playing together for 17 years. And it stands to reason that, in that time, they’ve seen plenty of good and bad musical combinations come and go while holding down the easy-skanking beat. Which is why Picard was so pleasantly surprised when the Well Charged lineup, which also includes vocalist Megg Howe, guitarist Andrew Link, and keyboardist David Hillis, came together so quickly.

“A lot of times it takes a band six months to develop a sound, but after like four rehearsals we were ready to start performing and write originals,” Picard says. “With a new band starting from scratch, it was really good to see it grow so quickly.”

It’s possible that Picard was also surprised by how quickly they were accepted in the Charleston scene, since the common thread in Well Charged’s music is a drive to play the real deal; no pop-crossover tunes required.

“The people who embrace what we do aren’t the people who want to go out and listen to Bob (Marley) and UB40 covers,” he says. “There’s nothing wrong with that, but we try to appeal to more of the underground crowd than the poolside crowd.”

In fact, Andrew Link doesn’t think that Well Charged is even fundamentally a reggae band. He says the group’s music reaches further back.

“I think a bigger part of what we do is ska and rocksteady, which is an older precursor of reggae,” Link says. “There are a lot of great singers and a lot of great artists out there in that style that people don’t know. People hear ‘reggae’ and they think Bob Marley, but they don’t know about Bob Marley when he was a teenager with a crewcut singing American Motown classics.”


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