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After more than four decades, the members of Israel Vibration sets their own schedule—

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“Don’t worry, the bus will wait.”

Israel Vibration performs on Sunday, August 10, at Assembly Music Hall, located at 1000 K Street. The show begins at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $22. Simple Creation is also on the bill. See for more on the band.

Reggae fans have almost always been a different type of concertgoer. Not only do they provide the bands they love with an extremely loyal following, they usually show up en masse to concerts expecting a start time other than the one advertised.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the members of roots-reggae bands tend to do everything on their own, slow, and certainly not methodical, schedule.

Take, for example, what it took to even get an interview with Israel Vibration, the Jamaican roots-reggae band set to appear on Sunday, August 10, at Assembly Music Hall: Repeated phone calls and too many unsuccessful emails—and that was just to find a band contact. Finally, however, an interview was arranged and completed. Well, after the scheduled interview time and day was changed several times, that is.

Still, perhaps the band has earned a right to set its own schedule.

The original members of Israel Vibration—Cecil “Skelly” Spence, Lascelle “Wiss” Bulgin and Albert “Apple Gabriel” Craig—all met at an early age while at the Mona Rehabilitation Centre in Jamaica where they received treatment for polio.

Later, they formed a band and have toured and released albums for more than four decades—first as a trio, and later as a duo when, in the late ’90s, Craig left to pursue a solo career.

Spence, now 60, now looks back on that time at the rehabilitation clinic as a positive experience.

“It was a good experience for me. The workers took good care of us, and I got to visit my family in the summertime,” said Spence, his voice giving off a barely discernible Jamaican accent.

Although Israel Vibration’s first recording went awry in 1975 after the band recorded its “Bad Intention” single at the legendary Channel One Studio—the release never saw the light of day—Spence said they learned from the experience.

“We had a disagreement with the label, and we didn’t feel comfortable staying. That’s that,” Spence said.

Eventually, the band made it to RAS Records—home to such reggae greats as the Wailers Band, Yellowman, Black Uhuru and Luciano. There, they released numerous records before joining Mediacom in 2007.

The label switch was necessary, Spence said.

“Let’s just say that over the years, RAS could have done a lot more for us,” he said.


It’s been more than four years since Israel Vibration released an album, but the duo isn’t resting. The band tours regularly—although these days the venues tend to be smaller clubs instead of the big-money festival circuit it once populated.

No problem, Spence said, the vibe is just the same. Well, mostly.

“Sometimes the festivals bring a different energy, but I still think they are both interesting,” Spence said. “However, there is a little more pressure at festival shows. With as many as 15 or 20 acts on a festival, you are competing and need to bring your A game.”

Up next, the band plans to record in September and also continue touring. At some point, Spence said, he and Bulgin would like to bring it all back home with a return to Jamaica.

“I would like to … give something back. I’d like the band to do a free concert if possible at the Mona Rehabilitation Centre,” Spence said.

Expect it to happen—but, as with anything on the band’s schedule, just don’t expect it to happen anytime soon.

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