The Big Takeover
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The Big Takeover

New Paltz, New York, United States

New Paltz, New York, United States
Band World Reggae


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"The Big Takeover captivates the crowd at Woodstock's Bearsville Theater"

The Big Takeover is probably a lot bigger than its members know.

This New Paltz-based reggae/rocksteady/ska band has gained a devoted legion of fans in the years since they began performing, many of whom followed the group to the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock on Sat. Feb. 19 for a show to celebrate the release of their latest CD, “Tale of My Life.”

The sextet — comprised of Rob Kissner (bass), Sam Tritto (drums), Jon Klenck (guitar),
Chas Montrose (sax), Andrew Vogt (trombone, flute) and Jamaican-born Nee Nee Rushie on lead vocals — blew away the packed crowd with a 19-song set (plus encores) highlighting tunes off the new album, a few older originals and classic reggae covers.

The show began with a mood-setting, upbeat instrumental groove, to which singer Rushie made a stunning entrance, strutting out onstage in a lavender fringed getup and glittering stilettos that would make Tina Turner jealous.

The album’s title track was played early in the show; a high-energy dancealong with shoulder-shaking basslines and an exciting horn section that complements Rushie’s sweet-yet-brassy vocals. And by this time, just a few songs in, the untamable crowd was almost as much fun to watch as the band: There’s a breakdancer; a man air-swimming past the stage; people of all ages jumping, smiling and forgetting their cares; and an adorable little girl in a fairy costume who made her way onstage, swaying and twirling with a (real) puppy in her arms.

Entranced by the sound, when Rushie says “Everybody dance!” everybody dances. When she announces an upcoming ballad, saying, “If you see that girl you’ve been trying to dance with all night, ask her now;” swarms of couples heighten their intimacy on the dancefloor.

A cover of Beres Hammond’s “One Dance” elicited the strongest singalong, but the band’s originals pleased listeners just as much. “Summertime in the Ghetto” represents that balmy season well, through a reggaeton backbeat and a Caribbean/Latin-tinged groove that could’ve melted the ice outside the venue.

Before the band exited the stage, the audience was already shouting for an encore. The group returned promptly to serve a three-song dessert with as much energy as they began with. The band said goodnight, Rushie’s stilettos promptly came off, and the crowd snapped out of their trance as the lights faded on. The Big Takeover lived up to their name.

Visit for future tour dates -


Very aptly named, The Big Takeover is making just that impression all over upstate New York. Big. This reggae/ska band, consisting of NeeNee Rushie on lead vocals, Rob Kissner on Bass, Sam Tritto on drums, Jon Klenck on guitar, Andy Vogt on trombone, and Chas Montrose on the sax, is in the business of making people feel good. And business is really booming! Going to a show is a guaranteed good time. Even the self-proclaimed non-dancers can’t resist movin’ and shakin’ with the grooves this soulful band treats us with. The Big Takeover are clearly not going to stop at “taking over” small upstate towns like New Paltz with their talent and charm. Playing venues from The Egg in Albany to festivals all around the Northeastern section of the country, their fan base is increasing steadily. These upbeat musicians have opened for greats such as Jefferson Starship and three times over for the legendary Bob Marley back-up band, The Wailers. Lead singer NeeNee, a beautiful Jamaican woman with a voice to match, was kind enough to talk to us for a bit. We discussed many things including how they came up with their name, the difference between a crowd of fifty and five thousand, and when we can anticipate the release of their second CD, Tale of my Life. Enjoy!
The Free George: Hi NeeNee, thanks for your time! Can you tell us a bit about The Big Takeover?
NeeNee Rushie: We were formed in New Paltz. Two childhood friends (Rob and Sam) met a girl who liked to sing and everything kinda just fell into place. We’ve been playing for a little over three years and have developed one hell of a friendship and band dynamic.
TFG: How would you describe your sound? How do you think you make your audience feel?
NR: A refreshingly upbeat, yet groove oriented, party-making approach to interpreting the Jamaican tradition of rocksteady, ska and reggae music.
TFG: The Big Takeover is a BIG name, who thought of it?
NR: Sam and Rob used to show up at college parties and take over the stereo and play whatever they wanted to play. They called it The Big Takeover, and when they formed a band, the name was the obvious choice.
TFG: You opened for The Wailers at The Chance in Poughkeepsie. Tell us about that!
NR: Well it was our third time opening for them. We’ve done so in Poughkeepsie twice and in Northampton, Massachusetts also. They are just a pleasure to share a stage with. Just watching them groove and do their thing so naturally and engaging, is certainly a first class lesson which we have relished all three times.
TFG: You have played some interesting venues, including The Egg, when you opened for Jefferson Starship… what are the acoustics like there? Did you get to spend some time with the guys from the band?
NR: We didn’t get a chance to meet the band, unfortunately. We did see them checking us out from the side of the stage. I’m not really sure what they were thinking. It was a great show! The acoustics in the Egg is unreal. It was like the place was designed for live shows. Everything sounded out of this world.
TFG: Do you have a best or worst show that you can remember?
NR: It’s hard to narrow that down to one show, best or worst. We’ve had some good times playing to hundreds of people at ski resorts, and thousands of people at festivals, but I’ve also had a blast rocking a crowd of 50. It all depends on the vibe that the audience gives off. Our best shows are the ones when people show up and dare to have as much fun as we’re having.
TFG: Your debut album Following Too Close came out in 2008, and it is awesome! How long of a process was that? Do we have a new one coming out on the horizon?
NR: We built a studio in Kingston, and spent our summer inside recording Tale of My Life. We are having a record release party at The Bearsville Theater in February. The 19th to be exact. We are extremely excited about this new one. It’s a little different from Following Too Close and we would love for people to actually recognize some sort of growth. The CD is for sale at shows,,, itunes and pretty much anywhere else that you can download music.
TFG: Can you take us through the process of writing a song?
NR: Usually someone comes up with a bass line or a chord progression or a horn riff or drumbeat or a melody or lyrics or something, and it all comes together at practice. We kinda inspire each other.
TFG: Do you guys have plans for the warm weather? Are you going to tour in the spring or summer or you gonna hang out in the New Paltz area?
NR: We are definitely gonna go on tour again. Last summer we went down south, next summer we’re trying to go across country, and maybe even leave the country.
TFG: What do you do when you’re not playing music? Am I too bold in asking if it pays the bills?
NR: Depends on the kinds of bills. We do make a little money, but it’s more of an “on the side” kind of thing. We all have day jobs and it gets hectic to do both, but we are working towards music paying all the bills.
- The Free George

"Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution"

It’s a hell of a long way from Jamaica to the Hudson Valley. Something Neenee Rushie, a native of the former, is reminded of every year with the arrival of December.

“Awwgh! I hate the cold,” she grumbles outside a diner in midtown Kingston—New York—on one of the season’s first bitterly frigid nights. “I can’t get used to it.”

One can only surmise, then, that Rushie must have a pretty good reason for sticking around the Hudson Valley and not heading back to her homeland of palms and patois. Indeed, she does. Rushie sings for the Big Takeover, the area’s most exciting roots-reggae and ska act, and of the few that also specializes in rocksteady.

Largely overlooked in America, rocksteady is the midtempo, mid-’60s-born genre that evolved between ska and reggae proper, bridging the transition between the former’s up-beat rhythms and the latter’s laidback, balmy grooves. “When I tell people we play rocksteady usually they’re, like, ‘What’s that?’” says bassist Rob Kissner, who also does the band’s booking and recorded its two albums using his own equipment. “So most of the time I just end up saying we play reggae. Or ska. Then they get it. Around here, unless they’re really, really into reggae music, people don’t know what rocksteady is.”

True. But, then again, outside of Millie Small’s “My Boy Lollipop” (1964) and Desmond Dekker’s “Israelites” (1968), ska didn’t actually make much of an impression in the States until the early 1980s. That was when UK “Two-Tone” revisionists—the Specials, Madness, the English Beat—hit the punk/new wave circuit and sowed the seeds for a third generation of acts, several of whom—Rancid, Sublime, No Doubt—broke into the mainstream during the ’90s. And reggae, though now taken as a given on college campuses from Boston to Boise, didn’t really emerge as a viable force in the US until well after the 1981 passing of its preeminent saint, the great Bob Marley. So as far as the rise of rocksteady in America goes? Give ’em time, son.

Time, though, has certainly begun to pay off for the Big Takeover, which has been, well, rocking steadily since 2007. Comprising of guitarist Jon Klenk, trombonist Andy Vogt, saxophonist Chas Montrose, and drummer Sam Tritto, the group met while its members—all still in their early 20s—were college students, and maintains a brain-jarring schedule, regularly hitting New York and packing sweaty skankers into local venues like Bacchus and Snug Harbor in New Paltz and the Black Swan in Tivoli. The sextet has also shared stages with some of reggae’s heaviest names, opening for the legendary Wailers at the Chance in Poughkeepsie and Aston Ellis and Inner Circle at the Bearsville Theater.

“All of [the band’s members] have this great sparkle in their eyes, a very unique energy,” says promoter Lea Boss, who organized the Bearsville shows and manages reggae shop Free Spirit of Woodstock. “They just have a spark that we really haven’t seen in the Hudson Valley for a long, long time.”

For Kissner and Tritto, that spark took flight in their hometown of Beacon, where they got into music at about the same time and learned to play together in basement bands. So what was it that made a couple of suburban white boys want to play reggae, as opposed to heavy metal or folk rock? “Marijuana!” blurts Tritto—jokingly, he insists. “For me, as a kid, it just sounded good. I had a babysitter who played me [a recording of the Bob Marley song] ‘Buffalo Soldier’ and I loved it right away. Rob and I used to go to a lot of outdoor parties in the summer time and there’d always be reggae CDs playing in the background. We both loved the easy, laidback feel [of the music]. So we actually kind of grew up with reggae always being around us, and we definitely wanted to start a reggae band at some point.”

Although it would be a few years before Tritto and Kissner realized that particular musical goal, they did, however, continue to perfect their skills in the funk-soul trio Filet of Soul, a group that still works the bars around SUNY New Paltz. It was there that Tritto met Rushie, who’d never been in a band before and had no aspirations beyond her undergraduate English studies. Nevertheless, the drummer and Kissner talked her into performing and started to recruit other musicians. One of the first was Klenk, a startling player whose burning, rock-edged leads are another characteristic strength that sets the Big Takeover apart from its rote-reggae competitors. (The guitarist further explores his Hendrixian, blues-rock side with Kissner in the Jonny Monster Blues Band.) Vogt and Montrose, who also divide their time with Highland ska unit Boy Scout Dropout, were added next, and the band rather quickly became one of the bigger draws in New Paltz.

With its growing regional cachet upped by a 2008 debut disc, Following Too Close (Independent; reviewed in the January 2009 issue of Chronogram), the outfit took to the road, getting on the bills at several outdoor festivals in New En - The Chronogram

"The Big Takeover"

Click URL. - The O-Town Scene

"Album Review - The Big Takeover - Following Too Close"

The days of giveaway demo CDs are over for the Big Takeover. The New Paltz-based sextet is keeping alive the tradition of roots/ska/reggae realness. Since its capacity-crowd album release/dance party at Bacchus in September the band has established a fast buzz, and was immediately tapped by Leah Boss of Upstate Reggae Productions in November to open for the legendary Wailers at the Chance in Poughkeepsie.

You’ll find it hard to believe that all the cuts on Following Too Close are originals, as they magnificently capture early rocksteady riddims with supertight songwriting. Lead singer Nee Nee Rushie, a native of Jamaica, leads her five bandmates in what is arguably one of the best Ulster County groups in recent memory. Big up to Sam Tritto on drums, Andy Vogt on trombone, Chas Montrose on saxophone, Johnny Klenck on guitar, and bassist Rob Kissner, who also engineered and mixed the album. The precise attention to detail comes right down to the eco-friendly packaging and choice of retro “vinyl”-looking disc. Do I and I a solid and go see the Big Takeover at your earliest opportunity, and, whatever happens, don’t leave without a copy of this CD, a massive debut that will bless your music player for months to come.
—DJ Wavy Davy

- DJ Wavy Davy

"Dominating Riddim"

It’s two o’clock on a sunny Friday afternoon and the members of roots reggae outfit the Big Takeover are recuperating from the previous night’s gig in Albany. Present but dog-tired and squinting are bassist Rob Kissner, vocalist Nee Nee Rushie, guitarist Jon Klenck, drummer Sam Tritto, and saxophonist Chas Montrose; missing is trombonist Andy Vogt, apparently still sleeping it off.

“It was so much easier to do out-of-town shows before SUNY New Paltz [at which most of the 20-to-24-year-old players are enrolled] changed our class schedule around,” groans Montrose, a math major. “Most of us didn’t get to bed until eight o’clock this morning.” After catching the band live two weekends in a row it’s not hard to see why these skilled young musicians are so visibly pooped. Sure, the lengthy hike back home from up north and the lack of sleep both have a lot to do with the group’s shared suffering, but compound those points with the sextet’s customary high-energy sets and you have a recipe for exhaustion. This is not a bunch of lazy hippie jammers moonlighting as yet another Bob Marley cover band: The Big Takeover leans much harder toward reggae’s more up-tempo parents, ska and rocksteady. “We definitely try to play our asses off,” says Tritto. “The overall vibe at our gigs is really joyful,” adds Kissner, who recorded the band’s just-out debut, Following Too Close (Takeover Productions), at his parents’ house. “We want the people at our shows to be able to forget about all the negative bullshit going on in their lives and just go crazy and have a good time.”

In addition to its refreshingly upbeat, party-making approach, the group has another secret weapon, one that other area reggae bands would no doubt be envious of: a genuine Jamaican lead singer in Rushie, who by day works toward an English teacher’s degree. She’s quick to point out, however, that her home island is no longer the reggae paradise most believe it to be. “Nobody cares about reggae anymore in Jamaica,” laments the vocalist, who learned to sing from her mother’s record collection and as a member of her church’s choir. “It’s retarded—they just want pop music there now. People in New Paltz are much more interested in reggae, they really study it and seek out the records. In Jamaica, people just take it for granted.”

The group got together in October 2007, taking its name not from the classic song by punk/reggae legends Bad Brains as one would assume, but, instead, Kissner maintains, from his and Klenck’s proclivity for commandeering the stereo at campus parties. “We’d just show up and take over, play the music we wanted to hear instead of the crap that people were usually listening to,” Kissner explains. In addition to the Big Takeover, Kissner and Klenck also play in long-running blues-rock outfit the Paint Cans; the bassist and Tritto had worked together earlier in popular R&B/Latin/funk trio Fillet of Soul.

And in the space of only one year the Big Takeover is indeed well on its way toward total domination, rising to become one of the best-loved live acts in the Hudson Valley—in more ways than one. “After we finished playing one night, this girl just hopped onstage and kissed me,” says Klenck with disbelieving laughter. “And when we played the next weekend, her sister came up and did the same thing. It was crazy.”

The line forms to the left, music lovers.

The Big Takeover will play at Snug Harbor (aka Snug’s) in New Paltz on November 11; at the 169 Bar in New York on October 31; and at Oasis in New Paltz on November 22. - Peter Aaron of Roll Magazine

"CD release party"

The Big Takeover CD release party: September 5 at Bacchus in New Paltz.

September 5. Praise Jah for a new band on the upstate reggae scene! The Big Takeover, another New Paltz hit machine (and one sharing bandmates and vibes with blues power trio the Paint Cans and funksters Grooveyard), has been wowing frenetic, dancing crowds from Kingston, New York, to Kingston, Jamaica. Now fans will have something to take home, namely the band’s new CD, Following Too Close (Takeover Productions), a “hot-peppa” mix of roots-ska originals featuring Jamaican singer Nee Nee and a skin-tight five-piece band. Wind up at Bacchus tonight, grab a Red Stripe, and let’s all get down to the I-rie sound of DJ Goodwill selecting when the band cools off. 21+ please - DJ Wavy Davy, August 25, 2008


Still working on that hot first release.



The Big Takeover is a unique concoction of backgrounds and spirits that perfectly creates a version of reggae that is fresh and vivid. With Jamaican born and raised NeeNee Rushie as a captivating and memorable front woman, this movement complete with a playful horn section, pulsating bass and drums, and a hypnotizing rhythm section fills its audiences hearts with good vibes and solid joy.

This New York based band was formed in 2008, and since then has played over 500 shows in cities all over the east coast. They have released two full length studio albums, and anticipate a third by the new year. They also have the pleasure of calling true reggae royalties such as The Wailers, The Skatalites, The Slackers, Yellow Man, Taurrus Riley, Inner Circle, and Sister Nancy their stage mates.