Ras Alan

Ras Alan

 Greeneville, Tennessee, USA

With the new 2012 album ORGANIC, Ras Alan has sustainably harvested songs and stories from the experiential Appalachian World Wide aesthetic!


Ras Alan celebrated Bob Marley’s TALKING BLUES reggae release in Jamaica with Ziggy, Stephen, Julian and Rita Marley; he picked informal gospel and swing tunes with American music icons Doc Watson and Jethro Burns; he learned ancient tribal rhythms and melodies at the feet of African blues master Ali Farke Toure. His original “reggabilly” songs and self-produced CDs have navigated the Grammy@ process, enlivened the Archives of Appalachia and represent “Contemporary Southern Appalachian Culture and Music” in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. He’s been featured on Country Music Television, PBS and NPR stations nationwide.

He is a father, a solar designer, carpenter, electrician, organic gardener and all-around handy guy. He lives in the mountains just hours from where he was born into a large, close-knit family and continues to pick Carter Family and Jimmy Rodgers tunes with his father and uncles at various reunions and yearly gatherings. He designed and built the acoustic guitar he plays.

"Regular songs about regular life… and a desire to do better.” Ras Alan’s music reflects a life of observing and learning, trying and failing, and trying again. He teaches ”Respect” in his “One HeartBeat- Appalachia to Zimbabwe” children’s programs, shares intimate “everyman” daily struggles in his songs and shines a flashlight-ray of Hope into the future and our place in it.

Ras Alan’s first “Appalachian Reggae” CD was released on his own label in the Spring of 1993. NATIVE met critic’s favor by its’ original take on storytelling to the pulsing reggae beat, rather than a mere copying of style or mimicry of a popular Caribbean accent and song form. STONE INNA HURRICANE, a live album recorded on the road during 1995-1996, was released on CD in 1997 and quickly sold out due to the record going straight to radio in markets that “got” the stories, rhythm and message.

In 2002, the more “pop” music elements of LETTER FROM APPALACHIA found Ras Alan’s greatest audience listening and dancing to his stories framed by thicker production and studio artistry: simple and decorative at the same time.

The Smithsonian Institution and the research committees for the “Year of Appalachia” found what they were looking for in Ras Alan’s music and narrative. He was invited to perform 10 shows on the National Mall in Washington, DC for the 37th Smithsonian Folklife Festival and the subsequent “Smithsonian to the Mountains Tour”, working alongside the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance, based in Bristol TN/VA. Ras Alan’s 2006 CD FOLKLIFE gathers his honest live performances in Washington, heard by thousands of the 1.5 million visitors and condenses the huge experience into an hour long tincture of homestyle ingenuity and front porch celebration.

With the new 2012 album ORGANIC, Ras Alan has sustainably harvested songs and stories from the experiential Appalachian World Wide asthetic. He built the studio the CD was recorded in, using spruce, bamboo and locally milled hemlock lumber. Ras Alan built the recording computer from collected parts and used whatever equipment he had around to track the live performances of instruments including his handmade flat top guitar, resonator, classical and Stratocaster guitars, mandolin, piano, organ, bass, drumkit, hand drums and percussion. He recorded ORGANIC as the organic garden just outside the studio window went from compost, to seed, to mason jars...

2012 represents the 19th year of Ras Alan’s “Appalachian Reggae” and his original reggabilly tunes will be featured alongside anecdotes, stories and instruments gathered along his musical odyssey, weaving mountain cultural traditions with global rhythmic inspiration.

Check Ras Alan and his music for a glimpse into a musical seeker’s life, a poet’s warehouse and a regular guy with an irregular beat.

NOW BOOKING 2012-2013

Ras Alan's own Appalachian Reggae is "DOC WATSON meets BOB MARLEY at the CARTER FAMILY picnic, with THE ABYSSINIANS and NORMAN BLAKE tradin' recipes with BURNING SPEAR, THE ITALS and JOHNNY CASH."

I continue to Give Thanks to the many promoters, talent buyers, fans and friends that encourage and uplift local musicians and a little Appalachian reggabilly...

“We’re more alike than different!”

What do country music and Ras Alan’s Appalachian reggae have in common? Both were featured on Country Music Television’s Small Town Secrets, when it showed “Guitars,” a piece about Bristol, TN/VA’s musical past and present, including roots like the Carter Family’s original country music, and branches like Ras Alan’s own genre, Appalachian reggae. Ras Alan provided audiences with musical and historical insights on the CMT show, and was featured on CMT’s website performing “Appalachian Man” beside the railroad tracks in Bristol. Ras Alan sang original lyrics about Southern Appalachian mountain living while playing an acoustic resonator guitar and thumping on


-Ras Alan ORGANIC 2012 CD Red Pepper Records
-Ras Alan FOLKLIFE -Live at The Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2006 CD Red Pepper Records
-Ras Alan LETTER FROM APPALACHIA 2002 CD Red Pepper Records
-Ras Alan and The Lions STONE INNA HURRICANE 1997 CD Red Pepper Records
-Ras Alan and The Lions NATIVE 1993 CD/CS Red Pepper Records
-WNCW- Crowd Around the Mic VOL. 11 CD
-WNCW- Crowd Around the Mic VOL. 7 CD Compilation
-Reggae Ambassadors Worldwide VOL.1 CD Compilation
-1000 Years of Peace CD Compilation
-Music On The Square VOL. 1 CD Compilation
-Voice Of The Turtle "World Beat Jazz" 1990; RA and others; Out of print

Set List

Ras Alan performs these and other all original songs:

Beauty & Love
17 Years
Days Gone By
Livin in The Appalachians
White House
So Much Betta
Herb Revenooer
I for an I
Be Ye Strong
Appalachian Man
Nice Up, Natty!
59 Locks
Stone Inna Hurricane
Kali Tree
Golden Rule
Many Names
Rastafari Ridge
Boy Like I
Live it Up, Rasta
100 Lb Bale
Risin' Sun
Wake Up
Outside the Box
Forward 2 Tomorrow
Country Rebel
Cyan't Cage a Lion
Jah Jah Lives
Sacred Ground
World Citizen