Fortunate Youth Bring Their Signature Sound Back Home

FORTUNATE YOUTH play The Novo Nov. 21, Observatory / North Park Nov. 23 , Observatory / Santa Ana Nov. 24 and 25; press photo

FORTUNATE YOUTH play The Novo Nov. 21, Observatory / North Park Nov. 23 , Observatory / Santa Ana Nov. 24 and 25; press photo

Good Vibes!!! This phrase is at the center of reggae music and is a pivotal force in the popular L.A. reggae act Fortunate Youth.

“Basically, myself and another member were really looking to create a name that was positive,” explains Greg Gelb of the band. “And fortunate youth being a kind of state of mind, you know a positive state of mind, and music keeps you young; so, if you have a youthful mindset, you’re kind of lucky to be young forever through music.

“Four of us went to high school together – Jered Draskovich, Corey Draskovich, myself Greg Gelb, and Travis Walpole- and our singer Dan Kelly is a transplant in the L.A. area from Mississippi so we kinda linked up with him. There were like two bands that we decided to put together. And later added our drummer from Las Vegas, Jordan Rosenthal.

“Our manager decided to have a birthday party and we decided to take these two bands and combine forces. And along the way we have added other members which has turned it into a six piece.”

FORTUNATE YOUTH: press photo

FORTUNATE YOUTH: press photo

Reggae is a fluid art form; while constantly maintaining a close tie to its roots, over the years it has shown an incredible ability to fuse with many other styles of music along the way. “We kind of joke about that,” muses Gelb. “We all have our own interests, some similar and some different. And when it came out, we all decided to band together and what came out was our sound.

“Definitely reggae influenced…. but I tell a lot of people we blend a lot of different styles into reggae, and that is what we enjoy about it,” reflects Gelb. “It’s kind of like an open book where you can blend a lot of cool styles and the reggae vibe is open to a lot of that. It has allowed for a good collaboration of sounds. I think what we most enjoy about being in the reggae genre is the community; it’s very welcoming and everybody is really positive.”

Speak to any reggae fan, and they will tell you seeing it live is a necessity for far too many reasons to list. “Definitely the energy,” states Gelb. “It all starts with everybody in the crowd, a kind of reflective and positive energy that goes back and forth.

“One of the most fun songs we play live, in terms of a high energy song, is “Burn One.” I think that’s a crowd favorite for sure so that’s always fun. Another fun song I enjoy is “Things,” that’s a fun song to play. I don’t know if you know, but four of us switch instruments throughout the show. So, I play guitar and then get a few songs on the bass. The four of us each get to jump on the bass in the set so we kinda joke that we all like to fight over the bass.”

“It’s fun, you know,” Gelb continues. “We all have fun playing the bass. It’s a little bit…. you get to move around, it’s a little more simplified, and is a key element to the feel. So, yea, we have fun playing the musical instruments.”

Currently embarking on their West in Peace tour, the band is excited to be playing the west coast again; and thus, created a whimsical name for the tour with a funny story behind it. Gelb explains: “We were hoping people would get the bit of humor with it. The concept is based on the West Coast tour so there’s the west. One of our songs that illustrates the theme we are going for with our music is “Peace, Love, and Unity” so that’s a track of ours that we play almost every set. When people ask us what we are all about, that’s what we try to embody. That’s what we wanted to incorporate as well so we pieced those two things together.

“Then we decided to throw Elmer Fudd as the kind of spokesperson of that with the way he talks. Instead of rest in peace, he would say west in peace. And when we commissioned a friend for the flyer, we made a picture of him meditating and looking peaceful. So, it was just a twist on positive and rest in peace.”

Being from Hermosa Beach, Fortunate Youth looks forward to some hometown shows and the opportunity to bring their sound to longtime fans.

“The Observatory is like a backyard party for us,” reveals Gelb. “Just in terms of how a lot of friends come out so it’s definitely a good fun party feel to it. We are excited to record a live album there and get that experience there and put it out for people.”

With this tour, Fortunate Youth is spreading their love all around SoCal beginning Nov. 21 at The Novo, Nov. 23 at The Observatory North Park, Nov. 24 and 25 at The Observatory Santa Ana, Nov. 28 at The Majestic, and Nov. 29 at The Date Shed. Catch them at one, or even all, of these dates for deep reggae vibes you won’t find anywhere else!