Carlos Jones & The PLUS Band
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Carlos Jones & The PLUS Band

Cleveland, Ohio, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1994 | INDIE

Cleveland, Ohio, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 1994
Band World Reggae




"Staying With The Reggae"

The cabaret at Tangier in Akron is skanking.
It's the Saturday after Thanksgiving and although the venue isn't packed, the dance floor is, as a group of women and a few unself-conscious guys sway, spin and undulate to the steady, syncopated grooves emanating from the stage. On that stage is Carlos Jones and the Peace Love Unity Syndicate, better known as the P.L.U.S. Band, doing what they do best and what Jones has made his life's work: bringing the peaceful vibe of reggae music to the people.
The day after Christmas, Jones will headline his third annual Holiday Revival at the House of Blues Cleveland. Opening will be hip-hop/R&B band Ghetto Wisdom, featuring Mike Calhoun, guitarist for the Dazz Band. For many, Jones is the undisputed king of Ohio reggae, with nearly 30 years of music making under his dreadlocks. Since the late '70s, Jones has dedicated his life to spreading reggae's message of peace, love and unity and the healing power of music to the people.
The Virginia native and Army brat, who is 48, moved to Cleveland in the '60s, listening to classic Motown and R&B and gospel music in his grandfather's church before discovering the Beatles.After his older brother introduced him to Bob Marley's Natty Dread album in the early '70s, Jones went to see the rising star at Cleveland's Music Hall in 1978 and he had an epiphany.
``That really set me on fire. The place was packed, everybody on their feet. The smoke was in the air like a haze and you look on stage and there's this bright colorful, pulsating living organism. ``He was living and breathing like a dragon and the vibe in the air was electrically charged and there's this little guy (Marley) in the middle of it all holding everything in the palm of his hand,'' said Jones, still awed 28 years later. ``Everyone was caught up in that one vibration. We were all one and how often do you feel that in a crowd of people?''
Shortly after that show, Jones' fashionable Afro transformed into the foundation of the sandy blond dreadlocks he wears today, and the budding percussionist hooked up with I-Tal, one of the earliest American reggae bands in the area not consisting of transplanted Jamaicans.
I-Tal toured the Midwest and released one self-titled album.
In 1984, Jones, a blossoming songwriter, and some of his fellow I-Tal members started the band First Light, which incorporated strains of rock and R&B into its grooves.
Like I-Tal, First Light built up a strong local following and released two albums, Meltdown in 1987 and Groove Telepathy in 1994. But despite the group's success, Jones desired to get back to a traditional roots/reggae sound and put together a small combo called Strictly Roots before expanding the group and dubbing it the Peace Love Unity Syndicate and ending First Light in 1998. Jones and the P.L.U.S. band released one album, Roots With Culture, in 2004, perform regularly all over Ohio and get enough steady work (their tour schedule has gigs booked through next March) so that music can be Jones' full-time job, allowing him to provide for his wife, Dori, and two daughters, Rachel, 20, and Soraya, 18.
Though Jones says he'd like to expand the group's touring circle, which reaches a little into Indiana, Pennsylvania and Michigan, he holds no illusions about ``making it.'' He is happy being the big fish in the relatively small Cleveland reggae pond. `It never was an objective of mine to be a star,'' he said. ``It's all about succeeding at translating that spirit and being able to bring it to other people. Not only to feel it yourself, but to share it.'' One group of people Jones would especially like to share with is the younger generation, who he says is growing up in a more insulated society in which iPods, DJs and MP3 blogs have replaced the live music experience.
Unlike the 1960s and '70s, he said, the bulk of pop music does not reflect what's actually going on in the world around them. Young people "use music as an escape from reality rather than a mirror,'' he said. "Music has a way of penetrating the consciousness in a way a lot of other artistic mediums don't. "Once people find themselves thinking about things that are truthful, it also brings with it a responsibility. Once you know something, you can't unknow it. With knowledge comes responsibility, and a lot of people don't want that responsibility. They'd rather have ignorance, because it's easier.''
Jones and his band provide smooth rhythms that get the body moving, but nestled between those grooves and calls for "one love'' and unity are such lyrics as "I see the marching soldiers over there/You tell them that they're fighting for their honor/Defending our freedom, and that they are all heroes, but you don't tell them that they are all disposable'' (from Marching Soldiers).
"A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down so you give them something that's healthy,'' he said. "They come and dance and they feel good and maybe they don't even know they're getting a message. But it has a way of penetrating, people pick up on it.''
Jones and the P.L.U.S. band are planning to record an album for release sometime in 2007, and with the advent of the Internet, Jones has been gaining new fans young and old in far-flung places, such as Australia, Turkey and Portugal. "It levels the playing field,'' Jones said of sites such as myspace and CDBaby. ``No longer do you have to be a slave and try and cater to the people at some record company. You eliminate the middleman and get right to the people.
"And when we talk about reggae music, it's the music of the people. It's the common people's music."
- Akron Beacon Journal


Who Seh (single)- Ital - 1981
Musical Uprising (EP) - First Light - 1985
Meltdown! (LP) - First Light - 1987
Groove Telepathy (LP) First Light - 1994
Peace Love & Unity (LP) Carlos Jones - 1998
Full Circle-A Retrospective (LP) Carlos Jones - 2000
Roots With Culture (LP) Carlos Jones & PLUS - 2004
Peace Love & Unity (single) Carlos Jones - 2007
Reggae Meltdown (single) First Light - 2007
Running (single) First Light - 2007
Apartment Living (single) First Light - 2007
Nelson Mandela (single) Carlos Jones - 2007
Roots With Culture (single) Carlos Jones - 2007
Torchbearer (single) Carlos Jones - 2007
Children Unite (single) Carlos Jones - 2007
Jah Guide Over Us (single) Carlos Jones - 2007
Fulla Vibes (single) Carlos Jones - 2007
Hessler Street (single) Carlos Jones - 2007
Life Is What Happens (single) Carlos Jones - 2007
State Of Jah Music (single) Carlos Jones - 2007
Easter Day (single) Carlos Jones - 2008
Leave A Trail (single) Carlos Jones - 2008
Music To The Rescue (single) Carlos Jones - 2008
Catcha Falling Star (single) Carlos Jones - 2008
Fear No Evil (single) Carlos Jones - 2008
I Will Be With You (single) Carlos Jones - 2008
Use Your Voice (single) Carlos Jones - 2008



Carlos Jones has been called the “iron-man” of the Cleveland, Ohio Reggae scene, owing to his 40-plus year run playing music in the area.His journey follows the history of Cleveland Reggae itself - starting out as a sideman (percussion/vocals) with the local band, I-tal in the late 70’s.  I-tal, being one of the first local reggae bands in the area, would be for many, an introduction to live reggae, and was able to bring the music to crowds of local college kids with their unique, rock infused reggae sound and eclectic personnel, playing clubs, colleges, and festivals all over the region. After having been a sideman for five years, Carlos began to come into his own as a songwriter and onstage presence, and In 1984, an offshoot made up of (5 of the 8) I-tal members was formed, called First Light. Jones became the principle songwriter and front man of the group. During its 14 year run, First Light achieved a huge level of popularity; with its powerful and eclectic brand of music, which mixed rock, funk and blues with reggae. Touring over a large part of the country, they seemed poised to break into the national spotlight, but lacked the management or luck needed to get them there. By the mid-90s, feeling the need to return to a rootsier sound than First Light was known for, Carlos formed a mostly acoustic, 4-piece group called Strictly Roots, which would later be renamed, the Peace Love Unity Syndicate, now more commonly known as The PLUS Band. After doing both projects for a number of years, he decided to make The PLUS Band his full-time pursuit and First Light disbanded in May of 1998.  Since then, he has been on a mission to carry the reggae vibration to all who will listen. In 1998, Carlos released a 14-song solo recording called “Peace Love & Unity”. It was a lo-fi but well-crafted effort recorded on a 4-track recording deck in his home, which saw moderate local distribution. This served as a re-introduction to his fan base as a solo artist, and would later provide material for a full-length CD entitled, “Roots With Culture” which would be released a few years later. "Full Circle, A Retrospective”, was released in 2000 on Little Fish Records, a fledgling indie label run by Larry Koval, who signed on as manager for Jones in 1998. This was a compilation of tracks pulled from various recordings spanning Jones’ career, including some of his solo work, and some previously un-released First Light tracks as well. In April of 2004, the band’s first CD, “Roots With Culture” was released after much anticipation and it did not disappoint. The band followed up in 2009 with its second full-length album; “Leave A Trail”, and in 2011, a 4-song EP, called “Positive Vibrations”. 2015 saw the release of their first live recording, called PLUS LIVE From Playhouse Square, recorded in downtown Cleveland.

Carlos and his crew have solidified into a tight and powerful unit, giving energetic and uplifting performances for an ever-expanding following. The PLUS Band has played from the mountains of Idaho to the beaches of Jamaica, and has remained a perennial favorite at events drawing record crowds every year. Their steady schedule of shows have kept them highly visible and have steadily increased their popularity among the younger and older generations alike. Since their humble beginnings in 1998, they have earned several “Best of Cleveland” awards in their category. They were voted Best Live Act (overall) in Cleveland at the 2004 Scene Music Awards, and in 2007 were awarded permanent "All Star" status in the Free Times Music Awards.  In 2012, he was chosen as one of Cleveland’s “Hometown Heroes” in a FOX 8 News feature, and in 2013, was honored by his former high school (Maple Heights) with the “Pathfinder Award” for his contributions to humanitarian causes and positive example to others. In 2020, The PLUS Band was again named "Best Band in Cleveland" in the Scene Magazine "Best of Cleveland" issue. With the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in March of 2020, for the first time in the band's existence, they have not been able to perform, other than a few "parking lot" shows and a handful of virtual concerts broadcast online.
As of this year, Carlos and the band are finishing up a new album, called "A New Day", which they plan to release this summer. With hopes of the pandemic releasing its grip on the population being able to once again enjoy live performances, they are scheduled to play a few outdoor shows for their fans, who have been starved for the togetherness and positive vibes that are generated at their gatherings.
When asked about his plans for the future, he’ll simply tell you, “The future is every new day I get, you know? I just live this moment right now and give it all I've got, and let that carry me forward. I’m very happy to be where I am and am grateful for all that I have been allowed to accomplish so far. If I can just continue doing what I love, what more could I ask for out of life? “

Band Members