Are you looking for a positive musical affirmation to start your day? The summer hit single, “Green Lights”, is just that. Written and performed by prolific singer/songwriter Gary Russell Wertz aka GRW (Grow without the ‘O’) and featuring Junior Toots (son of reggae legend Toots — of Toots and the Maytals), 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.
In 2020, as sh*t hit the fan, music fans were looking for upbeat music, something to help them clear their heads and to feel more hopeful. GRW’s response to this need was to write “Green Lights”, a precursor to the forthcoming album HYBRIDS on Aleada Records Label (reggae legend Marcia Griffiths’ son, Marcus Thompson).
Gary and his wife Lisa were formerly cannabis farmers for two decades in the reggae Mecca of Mendocino County in Northern California and deeply entrenched in the industry (Gary’s wife, Lisa, was the mama that helped birthed the renowned Emerald Cup). This gifted musician, Gary Wertz, relocated his family to Tennessee, to an 18th Century farmstead they call Sacred Dog Ranch & Recording Studio. They consider themselves ‘climate refugees’ having had to leave their beloved farm in Northern California to escape ongoing wildfires. It is here, just west of Nashville, that Gary combined two kinds of roots: Americana-Country roots with Jamaican roots music to create “Green Lights.”
The new album, his 12th, called HYBRIDS is due to be released later this year. “Green Lights is the only reggae track”, explains Gary. “The rest of the songs are different styles of rock with a strong country flavor.”
Gary has over 11 albums (on vinyl, CD and digital) under his belt and several different incarnations of bands including Strawberry Smog a psychedelic folk-rock group that released four albums; Hot Mute, his first band he formed in San Francisco — an 80’s synth-pop classic rock band reminiscent of the Kinks, Cars and Rolling Stones — and his current incarnation: GRW, his solo project.
Gary 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.”
Junior Toots collaborated on this single; they were introduced through a mutual friend, artist Desmond George Smith (whom GRW co-produced a reggae album with). On-the-spot, GRW and Junior Toots clicked, and Lisa felt that Junior Toots was exactly the right fit for the song. He agreed, and gladly contributed. Gary adds, “Junior is a beautiful human being and the real deal in reggae. It’s an honor to work with him.”
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 (https://linktr.ee/GRW).
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.
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