REVERB: Kore Ionz’s Rub-a-Dub Style

A global reggae party for the kids.

It's Sunday afternoon at Daniel Pak's home in Rainier Beach. The Kore Ionz frontman has invited his bandmates to unwind over beer and barbecue in his sun-drenched backyard less than 12 hours after their concert at Red Bicycle on Vashon Island.The guys are obviously worn out from the 1 a.m. ferry ride back to the city, but they're still in good spirits.Of course, they've got plenty of reason to be. In the two years since its inception, the seven-piece reggae band has opened for the Original Wailers, released a debut album, Half-Hour Revolution, via iTunes, and even performed at Bumbershoot last month.While the number of reggae groups in the Northwest is small, Kore Ionz is focusing on becoming one of the best. Their lush harmonies, worldly beats, and uplifting message have helped them build a core audience locally, but what's more important to them is that they are seen as community leaders as well."We use music to break down barriers," says Pak, who also works at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center as a teaching artist. "Kids are so divided nowadays. It's about the cliques they're in, the neighborhoods they're from, even the shoes they wear. But music is in all of our psyches. It has the power to unite us."Kore Ionz certainly demonstrates that with its diverse lineup: Pak is a native of Hawai'i whose Japanese and Korean parents moved to America to work on a pineapple plantation. Lead guitarist Nermin Osmanovic grew up in war-torn Bosnia. Carliss "Hema" Pereira, Brendan Demelle, Teo Shantz, Paul Huppler, and Ahkeenu Musa represent the Virgin Islands, Connecticut, and Washington. They've come together out of a mutual respect and love for a genre with the power to be used as a communicative and often political tool."Reggae is a universal genre," Pak notes. "The image and message of Bob Marley is recognized no matter where you go in the world. There's something about it that's soothing to the soul."I can see us playing around the world in places that nobody else plays. We won't be at the top international venues. We'll be in the streets playing to the people."Before they move to the rest of the world, the group has several ongoing local projects to attend to, making regular appearances at fundraisers, community centers, and juvenile detention centers. Half the proceeds from Half-Hour Revolution go to the Service Board, a Seattle nonprofit that supports youth programs and education in marginalized communities."We don't just play music," Pak says. "We talk to the kids about how they're doing, what kind of music they're into, what they want to do when they're out of juvie. Even something small like playing music for them and letting them know we believe in them can make a difference and be revolutionary."ehobart@seattleweekly.com

 
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