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Dave Shiffman


Location Montclair, NJ
Recognized for Rootfire contributor/writer
Author of The Cosmic Burrito
Founder of Team Rasta Hockey Club
Life Education I learned how to love deeply, accept people from all walks of life and to appreciate the blessings in my life from my parents and grandparents. I am grateful to say that I never heard a derogatory word about anyone spoken by my family growing up. I was taught the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

When I started listening to reggae, I had an insatiable thirst to learn all about the music along with the Rastafarian belief system and lifestyle and Jamaican culture in general. This was pre-internet so I actually had to go to the library to find books about it, and then the universe provided me with no shortage of teachers and mentors along the way.

Thankfully, I have had the opportunity to do some international traveling throughout my life. This has given me gratitude for all of the good fortune that I have been granted, taught me to have an open mind and nurtured a passion for exploration, both inner and outward. I feel that traveling is the single best experience that any human can have to help them have compassion for others and learn about the myriad of cultures and belief systems that exist.
Skills/Expertise Highly skilled writer. Sales professional within K-12 education. I have a deep knowledge of reggae music and all its subgenres from its origins through the current day, focusing in recent years on the American scene in particular.
Lifestyle I attend many live music events (usually a minimum of 50 per year) and play ice hockey weekly for the recreational team I founded, Team Rasta Hockey Club. When not attending live music, I love to go to restaurants and watch a lot of television shows and movies and of course write for Rootfire.
Lyric This world is like a mirror
Reflecting what you do
And if you face it smiling
It will smile right back to you
So do unto others as you would have them do
So that your days
Will be many, many years much longer

-Culture, “Behold I Come”


I curate Spotify playlists that accompany my own prose and the photos of Arik Solberg  for an ongoing Rootfire feature called “A Photo is Worth 1000 Songs.” Check them out here.


How were you first introduced to reggae music? Who was the artist? How/where did you hear them?

I first heard reggae music as a teenager over 30 years ago  when I acquired a homemade cassette tape from my best friend’s brother of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. I instantly became hooked. Shortly after that, I visited Jamaica and the Caribbean, which ignited my quest to learn as much as I could about the music and culture behind it, a quest that continues today.


What have you done for reggae music? How do you contribute to/support the scene/community?
First and foremost, since my first introduction to reggae music as a teenaager, by purchasing reggae music and attending performances. Beyond that, I have been supporting the reggae community for over 20 years. Back in the 90s, I wrote for several reggae magazines, including Reggae Report, Dub Missive and Forward. Around the same time, I joined a grassroots networking organization made up of reggae musicians, deejays, promoters, producers, writers and fans called Reggae Ambassadors Worldwide. These days I work for Rootfire, helping to forward our mission in various ways and writing content on a regular basis.

Who are your favorite reggae artists?

Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, Culture, Gregory Isaccs, Horace Andy, Stick Figure, Fortunate Youth, Tribal Seeds

Who are your two favorite underground or regional artists?

10 Ft Ganja Plant (underground)| CC Roots (regional – Jersey City)| The Cliftones (regional – Cincinnati)| Giraffe Aftermath (regional – Vancouver)

What one reggae band do you miss? (b/c they are no longer touring or making music together) 

John Brown’s Body


What’s something non-digital that makes your life better?

Keurig coffee maker. White noise machine. I am the lightest of sleepers and it helps drown out noise that would otherwise wake me up. I bring this with me when I travel as well.

What’s a digital tool (or two) that you love using? 

Spotify, of course!



  • The Cosmic Burrito by yours truly !!!
  • Anything by Tom Robbins or Christopher Moore
  • Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
  • Travels by Michael Crichton
  • Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda


  • Steppin Razor/Red X – Peter Tosh documentary
  • Long Strange Trip – Grateful Dead documentary
  • Reggae Nashville presents Deep Roots Music Vol. 1-3
  • Reggae in a Babylon
  • Trenchtown
  • Marley
  • Brooklyn Rocksteady
  • Roots Reggae Rebellion
  • Word Sound and Power
  • Reggae – The Story of Jamaican Music
  • Mister Vibes – Joseph Hill documentary
  • Champion Sound