I first met Road Man a.k.a. Jon Petronzio on his first Colorado tour back in early 2017. I had seen JP in his primary role as keyboardist for John Brown’s Body many, many times by that point, but hadn’t been formally introduced. What followed was an intimate night of soul, funk and reggae tunes, carrying that definitive Upstate New York feel that comes with months of hiding from serious winter weather with not much more to do than get really good at playing music.
On that 2017 Colorado tour, the band was pushing their first record, Light at the Speed of Life, which had been many years in the making. Dan Africano (also of JBB) was on bass, and I was as happy as a clam at high tide to see such heavyweight musicians in a venue not much larger than my living room. Today Rootfire premieres “The Other Side,” the latest single from Road Man’s upcoming sophomore release Midnight Hour, due out November 30.
“The Other Side” immediately launches the listener into a deliciously dubby soundscape driven by horns and bass. The arrangement is dense, augmented by sophisticated harmony, tasteful dropouts and layers upon layers of powerful instrumentation. For fans of JBB, this track carries that trademark future roots sound while remaining distinctly and uniquely Road Man.
Upstate New York creates something seriously special when it comes to reggae music. I don’t know whether it’s the direct-from-the-heart family vibe that permeates the musical community, the top-shelf ganja grown out there or the above mentioned months of cold-weather practice time. Most likely it’s some combination of these and other factors, but the bottom line is that it is good. With “The Other Side” Road Man solidifies his position as a powerful musical force, giving the full package of quality songwriting, expert musicianship and superb production.
Road Man’s sophomore release Midnight Hour will be available across all digital platforms November 30. Pre-order your copy today.