Questions for King Solomon
Created by veterans from older Milwaukee groups, the band mixes reggae, ska, R&B, funk and Caribbean styles.
With their unique blend of roots reggae, ska, dub, dance hall, rock, r&b, and funk music, King Solomon has helped introduce many Milwaukeeans to the sounds of the Caribbean. The band was started in October 1998, and has its roots in several stalwart Milwaukee bands.
Guitarist Terry Tanger and drummer Keith Green are music industry veterans. Tanger played guitar and was front man for the 80s band, the new wave X-Cleavers while Green played for the Carribean-styled band Kojo. As they began to create King Solomon, Tanger and Green discovered Cory Coleman, bassist for the former Citizen King, the defunct 1990s group known for its mix of hip-hop, soul and rap and a national hit song, “Better Days.” Coleman’s soulful bass playing wove perfectly with King Solomon’s still developing sound.
Since its creation the band has seen many players come and go but today the band features Green, Coleman, Isaiah Adams on the keyboard, Stewart Dove on guitar, and Jonny Olson who serves as the band’s sound engineer. In 2009, a native of Ochos Rios, Jamaica, “JD” Ranken, joined the group as its lead vocalist. Ranken’s enthusiastic island energy and sound radiates his Jamaican dancehall toasting style.
King Solomon has since gone on to perform at major festivals in the Midwest including Summerfest, RiverSplash, Trempealeau Reggae Sunsplash of Lacrosse, and the Rockford on the Water Front and Ya Maka My Weekend Reggae Festival, both set in Rock Island, Ill. The band has also opened for The Wailers, Steel Pulse, Burning Spear, Maxi Priest, Culture, Yellow man, Third World and Matisyahu to name a few, while releasing several CDs.
Today, Milwaukee’s reggae scene is booming. King Solomon has helped make the genre more well-known to area DJs, festival goers, and music lovers alike. Green, who has been with the band since its inception, took time to answer some questions as he prepares for the summer festival season, including tonight’s performance for the Jazz in the Park Concert Series at Cathedral Square.
We are a Roots and Dancehall Reggae Band.
How did you get your start?
We got our start because all of us had a love for reggae music.
How did your band’s name originate?
We picked the name from a list of several names. King Solomon just stuck!
How did you become involved in Jazz in the Park?
We’ve played Jazz in the Park before and it’s always been a blast!
Who are your main musical influences?
Bob Marley, Steel Pulse, Beres Hammond to name a few.
What do you hope the audience gets out of watching you perform?
A love for the type of music we play.
What is your favorite thing to see in the audience while you are on stage?
There’s nothing better than watching people lose their inhibitions and dancing to our music.
Besides tonight’s Jazz in the Park performance, King Solomon will perform July 17 at Waterford River Rhythms, and on July 31-August 3 and August 6-9 at at Wisconsin State Fair.