Budding Roots-Reggae Star Plays For ‘Summer At Six’

By Gareth Henderson

Standard Staff

POMFRET – People get ready.

A hot reggae vibe is building for the second year of the “Summer at Six” concert series at Suicide Six in Pomfret.

International reggae star Jimmy Cliff, the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars – discovered by Woodstock filmmaker Zach Niles, and special guest Trevor Hall – whose music was featured in Shrek III – will all rock the mountain on Friday, July 16. Renowned Celtic fiddler Natalie MacMaster and Great Big Sea will hit the stage Aug. 21.

Hall, 23, will get the scene jammin’ next month with the roots-reggae music he’s loved since his high school days. He credits his tenth-grade year at the Idyllwild Arts Academy in California with the international flavor of his tunes. Now on the Vanguard record label, Hall is working on a new album that will include a taste of India.

“I’m trying to incorporate a little more of that sound into the music.”

In the meantime, fans can whet their appetite with a live album expected out this summer, which features some recent sold-out shows. Hall had the audience moving to his cool grooves and rich vocals – a distinctive voice roots-reggae fans are getting to know.

“It was a lovely experience, and I wanted to share it with people who couldn’t be there,” Hall said.

Always an avid songwriter, Hall wasted no time launching into the rough-and-tumble music business. Right after his graduation from high school in South Carolina, he went back to L.A. and signed a contract with Geffen Records. He continued to churn out the tunes and worked with producers John Alagia (John Mayer, Jason Mraz, Dave Matthews) and The Laboriel Brothers (Sting, Paul McCartney).

However, none of the records Hall made with Geffen ever hit the big-time – apart from an EP. They dropped him from the label in 2008, a move Hall actually found liberating.

“It was just a lot of waiting around, being told something’s going to happen, but it never happened,” he said. “It was like, ‘Now I can do what I want, write what I want and release it when I want.’”

And that pretty much describes what came next. No sooner had he left the building, than Hall cranked 14 new songs and recorded an acoustic album with longtime friend and percussionist Chris Steele. The result was, “This is Blue,” a 2008 record that expressed Hall’s newfound freedom in music.

Hall kept following his own path, and it led him to tours with world-renowned performers like The Wailers, Stevie Nicks, Ziggy Marley and Ben Harper. In 2009, Hall continued to build the fan base with a self-titled album.

His upcoming stop in Pomfret with Jimmy Cliff has him excited, but by now he knows that “everybody’s just a person,” even the big stars.

“He’s just another cat, you know; I don’t get too shook up about it,” Hall said.

Hall’s fame got a major boost when his song “Other Ways” showed up on the Shrek III soundtrack.

“It happened very quickly,” Hall said, and basically coming out of a meeting and one phone call by a Geffen official. “It definitely helped put food on the table for a little bit,” Hall added.

He now makes his home in Laguna Beach, California.