Return of the Pineapple Crackers
By Greg Hartman
For a land locked area with a rather limited airport, the Grand Valley has a surprising number of people who have connections to Hawaii. Most of that is due to Colorado Mesa University reaching out, but also it has had an influence on the culture. Somehow, one of the largest music draws in a rural colorado city is reggae. One of the primary examples of the cross culture exchange was the biggest band of the early 2010’s - Pineapple Crackers.
Releasing three albums during their tenure in the Grand Valley, Pineapple Crackers helped define the music scene. Take a Ride was their 2010 debut, 13 studio tracks that defined their mix of reggae, pop, and rock. Frontman Benson Broyles brought his native Hawaiian influences, armed with a ukulele, sweet voice, and commanding presence. The band, which rotated members through their tenure, brought a variety of rock influences that mixed into danceable reggae rock numbers. Their second release, Live at Mesa caught an enduring recording of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” mashed with “A Wonderful World”. Both releases are available for streaming on Spotify.
A third release, Home, was released in band’s final year. As Broyles planned to return home to Hawaii, a last blast was held at Mesa Theater on September 6, 2013. The all star event brought in back up vocalists, guest spots, and appearances of band members new and old. Of note was Cam Vilar, lead guitarist of Zolopht, providing some vocals as the band’s sometimes bassist. The other notable singer/bassist was Chase Martinez, who went on to find success with Redlands. The turnout was huge and the band went out where they deserved to be, on top.
As reggae rock continued to find a welcome home in the Grand Valley, Pineapple Crackers drifted off into local legend. This year, a new festival has been in development that highlights the growing Colorado river front in the Las Colonias park. Dubbed Colorado Riverfest, the initial ambitions of a three day event have been scaled down to one amazing day featuring touring performers at Las Colonias Amphitheater and events on the river. For that event, Pineapple Crackers will make a long sought return to the stage.
Local guitarist/vocalist Jimi Blevins will return to the band, along with Benson, who is also bringing along his brother to fill out the band. If the event only featured the reunion, it would be remarkable. Additionally, local up and comers Wave 11 will open the event at noon, along with a staggering line up of touring bands. Niceness and Pacific Dub will play before the Pineapple Crackers reunion at 4:30. The evening will close with sets from Passafire, Anuhea, and Common Kings. It will be a major milestone for the music community, especially since it will be overseen by the band who helped a valley fall in love with reggae
Tickets are available online for Colorado Riverfest on July 21st at coloradoriverfest.com