By drummer, Wesley Finley

Photo by: Sam Medina

Reggae-rockers, Rebelution will be releasing their sixth studio record, entitled Free Rein this Friday, June 15th. Eric Rachmany, Rory Carey, Marley D. Williams, and Wesley Finley began playing music together 14 years ago now at college in Santa Barbara. It’s a place of deep culture that they are proud to call home.

Since the beginning of the year, Rebelution has been dropping a new song on the last Friday of every month to celebrate the anticipated release of Free Rein with each track showing a different side of legendary band. The latest is entitled “Patience” and is an ode to a moment where all distractions in life fall away, allowing a moment of personal connection between two people. (previous releases include “Celebrate,” “City Life” and “Healing”). It’s fair to say that moment and the sentiment of patience is one that also reflects the relationship of the band and their hometown.

On the heels of “Patience”, just prior to the official record release and jumping into a four month tour, which appropriately concludes September 9th and the Santa Barbara Bowl, we caught up with drummer, Wesley Finley, who writes about the continual Santa Barbara influence on this edition of “My Hometown”.

Where It All Began:

I actually met Marley in a music class at SBCC, which is also how we met Eric, and then we met Rory because he was in Iration at the time. Marley and I were in world music class and we had a guest teacher bring in some African log drums. The teacher asked if anyone wanted to come up and play so I volunteered seeing as I was also a percussionist in the SBCC wind ensemble at the time. I went off jamming on the log drums, sat back down, and Marley, apparently impressed, asked if I had a drum set. I brought it down the following week and the rest is history!

The Early SB Support:

The support we got from our fellow Isla Vista residents was huge. Kids would come into town to visit their friends, see our show, then go back home and tell their friends about us which effectively disseminated the music for us. This was right before myspace was popular so finding out about new music was still word-of-mouth. The college crowd also enabled us to start playing in bars around Santa Barbara, Carp, and Ventura, which led to us playing more professionally and set the stage for playing out of town.

We definitely had fellow UCSB students who were fans and would get us early gigs on campus. After that, it was usually about rotating between the 3 usual haunts — Velvet Jones, SoHo, and Sandbar. Some names I remember from that time were Craig at Velvet, Aron at Sandbar, Scorpion Omari, and Winston “The Cool Ruler” who now has a reggae show on KJEE. I also have to shoutout Phat J and George Pendergast on that note. There was also Deb Medina who worked at The Zone in Carp who I believe gave us our first consistent paying gig that allowed us to buy a PA system and mixing board. It was nice that people backed us early on and gave us a chance!

We were never in contact with Sugarcult, Jack Johnson, or any of the big names from the area that you’d expect. I did end up becoming good friends with George Pendergast from Dishwalla over the years, but it was really more about the close-knit reggae/rock brotherhood we had with Iration, Natural Incense, and others that provided the support and camaraderie. It was probably a combination of generational gaps and differences in genre if I had to guess.

The SB Vibe:

Santa Barbara has always been unique to me topographically in how it’s sandwiched so closely in between the ocean and mountains. Both serve as natural inspiration. It’s relaxed atmosphere easily allows for relaxed tunes, which is perfect for reggae.

I think because Santa Barbara is such a small market, and close to LA, that it gets overlooked sometimes. But as aforementioned, the beachy, almost island vibe lends itself perfectly to reggae.

“Santa Barbara” off Falling Into Place:

In a way it’s a love song about the girl who got away, but it can also be seen as having a love affair with Santa Barbara. Both the girl and the place are magical.

The Free Rein Chapter:

At this point in our career, and in regards to this album which is our sixth studio album, influence is drawn from the culmination of all the places we’ve been and experiences we’ve had. Call it maturation or what you will, but we’ve toured so much now that there’s a lot to draw upon and a lot to reflect on.

Santa Barbara indefinitely holds a special place in our hearts since it’s where we all met and formed the band, and that we all chose to go there from such a variety of home towns is a testament to it being a destination. And even though we’ve grown up and have moved on, it’s awesome to have a beautiful venue in the SB Bowl to come back to and a crowd to make us feel like we’re home again!

~Wesley Finley

Catch Rebelution on tour starting June 22nd. For tickets and more information visit:

Free Rein available everywhere this Friday, June 15th!

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Produced/written by, and in collaboration with Jeff Gorra:

~ follow Jeff Gorra here on twitter