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Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF
Band Blues Reggae


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"Ukulele Experimentation Adds Style"

Ukulele experimentation adds style

“JMD” (Independent)

Rock guitars and Jamaican-style rhythms are the immediate first impressions of this six-song CD EP from JMD- a trio consisting of Jason Arimoto (ukulele and lead vocals), Mark Sakaue (bass and lead vocals) and David Morgenthaler (drums and background vocals), reinforced here by organist Charles Park. Arimoto and Sakaue are the resident composers; they each contribute three songs each and represent two distinct genres in the process. Sakaue is clearly a reggae fan; Arimoto is primarily a rock and blues guy.
The surprise here might already be evident. What sound on first take like an electric guitar is Arimoto playing ukulele through various effects. Guitarists have been experimenting with the sonic possibilites of their electrified instrument for more than 60 years, and Arimoto is picking up where Jake Shimabukuro left off in doing the same with the ukulele. Experimentation is often admirable. That’s true here.
Arimoto sings his compositions in straight middle-American English. Sakaue throws in faux-Jamaican vocal bits on some of his songs and sounds like Quino McWhinney on others. Arimoto shows his interest in reggae rhythms and Rastafarian themes with the closing song, “Bless Up,” calling on the listener to “bless up” and “give thanks and praises to The Most High.”
The trio clearly could go further into either genre or continue to embrace both. The compact musical calling card is certainly a good introduction to their capabilities. - Honolulu Star-Advertiser


JMD EP (2010)



JMD stands for“Jason, Mark & David”, the names of the original members of the group. Not as original as "Japanese Monster Disaster" they voted against in picking a band name. This reggae/blues/rock three-piece has been playing steadily in live music venues in Los Angeles, South Bay, Long Beach and Orange County. Their steady island music vibe has captured a small, but loyal following and has earned a reputation to rock a party crowd. The band was formed in the fall of 2008 in Los Angeles. Jason and Mark are both California transplants originally from Honolulu, HI and grew up listening to the same island music that dominated the airwaves in their hometown. Their music is also influenced by Bob Marley, Sublime, Jimi Hendrix and great music in general.

The ukulele stud, Jason Arimoto has been performing his island blues style for a couple of years prior to forming the group, and is a highly viewed artist on his popular YouTube channel ( He’s performed at ukulele festivals in Australia, Indiana and all over California, and will be releasing his solo album soon. Jason is a Gerontology researcher by day at the University of Southern California.

Bass player, Mark Sakaue, moved to Los Angeles in 2008, and worked as a live player for island music groups in Hawaii. He’s performed with local island acts Big Every Time (B.E.T.), Keahiwai, Kani Makou, Kanalo & Tempo Valley. A graduate of the University of Hawaii-Manoa, he currently is the Director of an after-school learning center in Koreatown, Los Angeles.

Current drummer, Mark "Sneek" Spiller, is a native Angeleno from Compton, California. He joined the group as a permanent member in 2011. Mark is a veteran of the SoCal reggae scene, backing numerous international reggae artists in his career.

The JMD EP was recorded in the Fall of 2009 at Suburban Studios under the guidance of recording engineer, Charlie Park. Their release is a collection of six original compositions and is available at live shows and online. The group is currently in studio recording their first full-length LP.