Don Chani live @ La Zona Rosa

Phive Photography
Don Chani was up next. They always put on a great show that makes you want to get out on the floor. For as many moving parts as they have they execute machine like timing. I am an HUGE fan of reggae and dub and these guys have a classic sound that takes me back….way back…the Latin twist gives them a unique sound seldom heard in classic reggae…

Austin 360

Austin 360
Austin360 says..”Groove to the funky reggae flavors of Don Chani and enjoy the positive lyrical messages”

Don Chani calls Flamingo home

Flamingo Cantina
We feel so privileged to have local bands like Don Chani call Flamingo home. Their shows are always so upbeat and full of positive energy…just the kind of thing we like to have rocking our stage. Pulling from many different musical influences but focusing mainly on straight up roots reggae, Don Chani engages the audience with well-written songs and catchy grooves that dare you not to dance or at the very least, tap your toe.

Concert review: Sister Carol at the Boiler Room in Denton

Laurel Johnston of My Denton Music
Up next was the Austin band Don Chani, yet another band I’d never heard of but wish I had. I wasn’t sure what to expect when the drummer described their sound as “Texas reggae” which could be better labeled “I can’t believe it’s not Jamaican.” I don’t know where these guys have been, but they left me wondering from what rough did these young diamonds emanate. The lead singer has the perfect rasta voice: soothing and sweet at times, playful yet lyrical at others. The drummer’s curls flipped and flopped around his head as he beat the groove out of his drums, and the keyboardist kept shouting up to the lead singer who would smile, laugh, and shout back. Even the guitar player had ants in his pants, unable to pick a spot between the lead singer and the drum platform. The percussionist stood next to the bass player, giving me a tutorial on how to correctly use almost every percussion instrument I’d ever seen (and some I hadn’t). First I thought they might just be a bunch of fun-loving guys who happen to be musicians (as per evidence of the keyboard player’s ’67 Inch Pianist t-shirt). As I listened to their beautiful three-part harmonies and their soulful lyrics, I realized I had it backwards: This is a group of incredibly talented guys who can afford to have fun on stage because their music is so damn good. Don Chani didn’t just play traditional reggae tunes, they played reggae infused with funk, folk, Latin grooves, and calypso.

I was sorry to see Don Chani go, but with openers that incredible I had a feeling the headliner would be yet another step forward.

Don’t change Don Chani: Good thing they’re headlining

Laurel Johnston
Don Chani is a busy band: for the last two weeks they’ve been out on the road playing a show every night. They’ve traveled as far as Madison, Wisconsin, and as close as Galveston, Texas. In the past, they’ve been regulars at the Austin Reggae Festival as well as played with reggae giants Eek a Mouse and The Skatalites. The first time I saw them was with Sister Carol at The Boiler Room back in December. Don Chani did what so many opening bands should do but don’t: they played with the excitement and intensity of a headlining band. It sounds obvious, but so many bands fall short with a safe, technically accurate but not anything spectacular performance. Don Chani is the antithesis of a mediocre opener, and I just had to see what they could do in a headlining spot.

You can always tell if a band is on or not, and these guys have been dead on both times that I’ve seen them. They had such a good onstage vibe going that there were girls dancing at the front of the stage before they struck the first chord. Once they started, the dance floor was immediately populated by shouting fans unafraid to crowd the stage. How is that possible on a Sunday night? Simply put, Don Chani’s music and stellar performance just make you feel good.

Every member is a multi-instrumentalist or vocalist, and they’re all so good at everything they play it’s hard to tell what their main instruments are. Their collective, increasingly boisterous energy on stage brought the weekend festivity to the Boiler Room on an otherwise average weeknight. Rhythm guitarist Mike Franklin is fascinating to watch: the way he moves across the stage to jam with his various band mates created an interesting sideshow for us to enjoy. Every time he moved to the right, he’d coax a wilder piano line out of keyboardist Matt Jacobs (a solid vocalist and melodica player). When he moved to the left, Erick Bohorquez’s guitar riffs would suddenly move into more risque territory with an enthusiastic crescendo. Bassist Nico Sanchez egged them on, playing aggressively funky at times, at other times carrying the weight of the world on his bass. Richly textured reggae rhythms, superbly delivered by drummer Dr. Dubbist (aka Jacob Benenate), are perfectly blended with the subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle Latin grooves. Chris Nerren’s astonishing array of percussion instruments adds yet another array of unusual colors to their already varied musical palette. His voice fuses in perfect harmony with lead singer/guitarist/dancehall veejay extraordinaire Mark Shaddock and Erick Bohorquez.

Throughout the whole show, I couldn’t get over the amount of energy and enthusiasm that Don Chani puts out. There are hardly any breaks between songs: instead, they play these sublime interludes that last just long enough to get you interested. Then, with a sudden tempo change they begin a completely different song, leaving you wanting more. I felt like that the entire show, always wanting to hear how they would transition into a completely different realm in a mere matter of seconds. They play with the poise and assurance of well-seasoned musicians, jumping between genres with ease.

How did such a lineup assemble? Just what are they putting in the water down in Austin? According to their myspace page, Don Chani formed as most bands do: a group of friends with similar tastes got together and started making music. Lead guitarist and vocalist Erick Bohorquez said he and lead vocalist Mark Shaddock met at Greenshores on Lake Austin, calling it “a magical place where we fused reggae with Latin and harmonies of our voices. It sort of grew from there to include other members.” Don Chani currently has two CDs available: From the Hilltops and a dub version Dub the Hilltops. Their next two shows are in Austin, but hopefully they’ll make it back to Denton sooner rather than later. After all, as the many fans yelled last night “Denton loves you!”

Don Chani blends different skills, ideas for old-school reggae vibe

AUSTIN, Texas — Zumbi started as a fan of the music and has now found himself part of the group.
The Austin resident won’t be playing a guitar, jamming on a bass or even shaking a tambourine when Don Chani performs old school reggae at 8 p.m. today at Cunningham’s Journal.
Zumbi, 23, has been hired on as the tour manager for Don Chani, a new outfit from the heart of Texas — maybe not exactly roots country, but still a place with a strong tradition of alternative music.
“It’s a collective of different skills and ideas,” Zumbi said of the group. “I’ve worked with some of these cats. I really just started as a fan of the music, so I’ve seen them develop.”
As tour manager Zumbi is arranging the gigs, supervising the venues and doing the legwork so the band only has to concentrate on the music.
“Right now we’re trying to win people over to our sound,” Zumbi said. “I’d have to say our sound is like a soulful, old reggae band.

Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars close Austin Reggae Fest
Sierra Leone’s high energy performance, as well as some timely drying weather conditions, salvaged a soggy festival this year. Don Chani led off the show with a huge contingent of artists on stage. When Don Chani began their set, temporary yellow tape put up by the City of Austin Parks Department to protect the saturated areas of the ground in front of the stage was still hanging, guarded by approximately a half dozen police officers.

As the music began to get going in earnest, authorities allowed fans to move forward towards the stage, past the tape.