~ Artist Spotlight ~ Reggae Festival Guide (RFG) Magazine interviews Gary Russell Wertz aka GRW about his summer 2020 hit, uplifting reggae single “GREEN LIGHTS” featuring Junior Toots
RFG caught up with songcrafter, Gary Russell Wertz known as GRW about the release of his new single “Green Lights” – a country-reggae fusion
Q: When did you start playing music and who were your biggest influences? A: I started writing songs in my head when I was around 10 years old, long before I learned an instrument. I went to school for the fine arts, not music, and only taught myself an instrument so I could get the songs down. I was indoctrinated into the Church of the Beatles early on.
Q: Do you write songs for other musicians? A: Writing songs for other artists is a fun challenge because it takes me down different paths that I might not go. Then, I end up wanting to record the song myself. The fabulous guitarist Eric McFadden has released two songs I wrote on his albums. I’ve also contributed two songs to Dave Catching’s (EoDM) solo album.
Q: Do you have a favorite genre? A: I was a Punk Kid, but I love any style of music when the song is good. It’s all about the song.
Q: How many instruments do you play? A: I play Guitar, Bass, Drums and a little Keyboard — so I’m a Rock Band!
Q: What is your process? Music first? Lyrics first? A: I’m usually a melody-first guy, but there’s nothing more inspiring than a good, strong song title. Lyrics are always hard unless they come easy. “Green Lights” is a good example of lyrics coming easy. The track came from serendipity. I had just met the producer, Marcus Thompson when we were visiting with the Marley family down in Miami and I had brought my guitar to play for everyone. Because things seemed to be moving along well, Lisa suggested I sing about something ‘Flowing.” Then I thought: what gets traffic flowing better than green lights? It only took a few more minutes to write the lyrics. Since I was in Miami, I also got a summer breeze in there for good measure. Junior Toots came up with his words just as quickly, and really pushed it further into Love Song territory, which I thought was right on. The song “Green Lights” seemed to come out of thin air.
Q: What is in the works for GRW? A: Hoping to release HYBRIDS in the late Fall ‑ It’s composed of different styles of rock with a strong country flavor. Hey, after all, I am in Nashville now.
Are you looking for a positive musical affirmation to start your day? The summer hit single, “GREEN LIGHTS” is just that. This song is an earworm…it just gets stuck in your head as it melds two genres: country and reggae in a perfect blend of feel good.
Gary Wertz aka GRW has over 11 albums (on vinyl, CD and digital) under his belt and several different incarnations of bands. He is the first to admit he is all over the place with his styles. “You can’t pigeon-hole me. If you have eclectic tastes like I do, check out my body of work, but whether you’re a reggae fan or not, I feel positive that everyone will like “GREEN LIGHTS.”
Jamaican-born Junior Toots has a genuine commitment to socially conscious lyrics and a determination to express himself sincerely from within. This passion can be felt through his deeply soulful vocal style that is reminiscent of his father, renowned reggae artist Toots Hibbert, of the Toots and the Maytals.
“Green Lights” is available for purchase on iTunes for .99 and is also available to stream on Spotify and several other platforms
This ‘country-ragga’ or ‘mountain reggae’ tune offers something for everybody; you can roll up your fatty or do practice your yoga to it; an all-around, uplifting summer soundtrack. Listen yourself; you’ll be hooked!