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As the Feb. 3 art walk on Roosevelt Row shifted from a dusty pink afternoon to dusk, it was complemented not only by the street dancers and galleries but by a light buzz of music drifting throughout SeventhAvenue and Roosevelt that brought recollections of times at the beach, times of relaxing and times of great music (at least, it did for me).

Playing between two galleries, the native Arizona band RAC brought soothing vocals and pacific sounds through bongos and the bass guitar, along with others.

After I walked up to Jim Amodeo, RAC’s videographer, who was sitting by the band’s van a few feet away from Ben Florine, vocalist, I tried shouting over the music to introduce myself.

When I asked about the band that night, I recall that he said, “These guys are great. They do everything.”

And it’s true: RAC specializes in combining punk and classic rock sounds, as well as adopting reggae rhythms for each song.

The band is made up of five band members, who all bring their own style of music and vocals, making for soulful tunes that make the listener want to smile nonstop, perhaps swaying to the music as if being moved by the ocean waves.

Derek Pepper (guitar), Taylor Hawkins (guitar), Ben Florine (vocals and bass), Matt Roberson (drums) and Jim Amodeo (videographer) came together eight years ago after the summer before their junior year in high school and began to play at house parties before deciding to form a band. Thomas O’Brien, vocalist and percussionist, joined the band five years ago after RAC had been established.

The name RAC originated after the members decided that, if their high school had an Asian Awareness Club, it should also have a Rasta Awareness Club (RAC). Hawkins says they later dropped the acronym and ran with “RAC.” The band will be celebrating their eighth year in June.

Roberson says it was local bands that really brought the reggae influence to them when they were starting out, bands such as Underwater and FAYUCA.

“This is our fire in life,” says Pepper.

RAC will be playing April 27 at the Rock Bar in Scottsdale.

Find RAC on their website RACdub, Facebook, YouTube and iTunes.


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