Date: Nov 20, 2020
The “iron-man” of the reggae scene in Cleveland, Ohio is without question, Carlos Jones.
Carlos’ journey is a history of Cleveland reggae itself. He started out as a sideman (percussion/vocals) with the band, I-Tal, in the late 70’s, then went on to be the front man for the rock/reggae group, First Light, for 14 years. Now Carlos fronts the Peace Love Unity Syndicate, (aka The PLUS Band), focusing on rootsier reggae sounds and uplifting positive messages.
In April of 2004, the band’s first full length CD, Roots With Culture was released after much anticipation and it did not disappoint. Described in The Beat magazine as “a powerful, 14-track collection of slinky grooves and thundering bass lines, Roots With Culture delivers a message of peace and harmony, with Jones’ heartfelt vocals leading the way, all wrapped in a production that can stand up to the best of them.” It will undoubtedly, over time, become a staple in most reggae collections.” (Chuck Foster – Reggae Update, The Beat Magazine – Vol. 24, no.1, June 2005)
Since their humble beginnings in 1998, Carlos, and his Peace, Love, Unity Syndicate (the PLUS Band) have matured as songwriters, musicians and performers, giving energetic and uplifting performances for an ever-expanding following, which spans generations.
They have been voted “best of” in their category nearly every year in the Scene Magazine and (now defunct) Free Times Music Awards, including being voted Best Live Act (overall) in Cleveland at the 2004 Scene Music Awards. In 2007, the group was awarded permanent “All Star” status in the Free Times Music Awards, thus basically “retiring” their number, but that hasn’t stopped them from being a perennial favorite.
The PLUS Band maintains a hectic pace of gigging out at clubs, private events and festivals all year long – playing an average of 3 shows nearly every week. As a result, the band’s soulful rhythms and heartfelt message have made it one of Cleveland’s top draws for going on 15 years.
The band just released its second full length CD, Leave A Trail last year, and some of Carlos’ music is also featured on the soundtrack of a film which recently premiered at The Sundance Film Festival called North Starr . This year finds Carlos and the band with many exciting things on the horizon, including a trip to perform in Negril, Jamaica – alongside the popular group Ekoostik Hookah this April. They just recently returned from a trip out to Ketchum, Idaho to perform at the annual Marley In The Mountains festival, opening for Mykal Rose, former lead singer of the Grammy Award winning, Black Uhuru. Their electric performance at that show won them many new fans across the country, and further confirmed their ability to hold their own with the best of them. The PLUS Band’s appearances at venues such as House of Blues and Nelson Ledges Quarry Park keep them highly visible and have steadily increased their following among the younger and older generation alike. A highlight for the band is appearing at the much anticipated, Midwest Reggae Fest every year, a 3 day event at The Ledges that draws bigger and bigger crowds each time.
When asked about his plans for the future, he’ll simply tell you, “The future is happening right now! I just want to keep on playing this music from my heart for as long as I’m able to, and keep the positive vibration flowing for all those who can dig it, ya know? As long as I can continue to do what I love, what more could I want out of life?”