The Rastafarmers are a lively group of mostly Chicanos based in Phoenix, AZ. Members Ras Patrick and Keith "Renaldo" Jennings founded the seven-piece band around 1990. Combining elements of rock, low-rider oldies, dancehall, soca, Afro-beat, Latin, and roots, the Rastafarmers' sound is truly unique. They consider themselves underdogs on the reggae scene: too mixed for purists and to reggae-ish for staunch R&B afficionados. They're just different; Chicanos who play reggae with a rock age sprinkled with R&B is not the norm. In addition, they sing Afro-beat songs in Spanish and perform UFO selections every now and then.
They keep busy playing Arizona's Indian Reservations, nightclubs, schools, and festivals, and have shared stages and billings with Black Uhuru, Burning Spear, Steel Pulse, Mighty Diamonds, Culture, Yellowman, Messenjah, Inner Circle, Ini Kamoze, and Big Mountain.
Ras Patrick, who calls himself a "Rasta Chicano," is the groups' main songwriter, vocalist, and keyboard player. He grew up bouncing to War, Earth, Wind & Fire, and George Clinton while cruising south Phoenix in his prized charcoal-grey 1948 Chevy. He played trumpet in high school, but ditched the horn after visiting Jamaica to start singing. He writes and sings many of the groups' songs in Spanish. Patrick works as a freelance artist and teaches music and art in workshops for kids and adults. Rastal Bassie Renaldo "Keith" Jennings plays them heavy bass grooves that make you shake your booty on the dancefloor and he also writes and sings. Richard A. Castillo, aka DJ Law, is a successful Phoenix attorney by day, "the mad percussionist" at dusk. Ben Molina adds special touches on percussion and harmonica; Erick Steffans plays the rock influenced guitar, low rider grooves, and skanks; Keith Jennings Jr., Richard's son, plays keys and percussion; and Wendall Hercules is the always-on-time one-drop drummer.
Not only do they make you dance, but you also feel the cause when they jam their socio-political message tunes about oppression. They're number one on Phoenix's Indian Reservations and hope to expand that love with the release of a new CD that hit the streets in 2000.