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The Ras Prophet Journey
A collection of aspiring and experienced musicians began meeting in a basement on Cato Street in Pittsburgh’s South Oakland neighborhood. Renowned for the partying as much as the music, these jam sessions eventually filtered down to five individuals (Robert Rubinstein - guitar, Gregg Crumby – guitar & vocals, Tim Session - bass, Joe Buckley – yet another guitar!, and Ted Sinnhuber aka “the lost prophet” - keyboards). This group began performing at clubs and colleges under the moniker Ras Prophet in mid-1989. The keyboardist was quickly replaced with sit in drummers – primarily Andrew B. Pearl (then of Chill Factor, International) and Chuck Kristan (then of Dub Squad). One ill-fated gig even saw the one-time use of a drum machine!

By January, 1990, Eric “E” Caplan came aboard as the band’s first (and only) full-time drummer. Since that time, the band has been blessed with the continued sit-in service of Pearl, Kristan and Patrick “JJ” Smith (S.W.A.M.M.P.) whenever E has been unable to make a gig.

On the other end of the rhythm section, the bass position saw nearly a decade of rotating musicians until Chuckie Jones’ arrival in 1997. Session, Chris Petrosky, Session again, Sam Collis (Toast), Lloyd “Cookie” Willacy (S.W.A.M.M.P., Zephaniah), Rubinstein and Norman Green (Flow) all did stints as the Ras Prophet bassie, with additional brief encounters with Bilal Bey (Moabites) and Donnie “Dread” Cyrus (Flow, Freedom).

Keyboardists were few and far between in the Ras Prophet’s early years. After Sinnhuber’s early departure, a full-time keyboardist did not join the band until Phil Wilkerson’s (CFI Massive) one year stint from mid-1993 to mid-1994. Wilkerson was replaced with Sam Pagano, who stayed a little over a year as well. For the next three years, the keyboardist position was filled periodically, gig to gig, with a revolving roster that included Wilkerson and Delroy “Zap” Clarke (S.W.A.M.M.P., Zapology). Finally, in 1999, George “Delly Ranks” Mitchell joined Ras Prophet, handling lead vocal duties as well.

Guitarist duties have dwindled from the trio of Crumby, Rubinstein & Buckley to Crumby & Rubinstein in the early 90’s, to Crumby alone, and finally to Rubinstein alone since mid-1994. While many of the band’s bass players have performed sets on guitar, there was a brief appearance by “Jamaican Tony” during the first year of the new millennium.

The vocalists performing on stage with the band has included at one time or another Crumby, Angela Hobbs, Tony Miles (Flow, Tony Miles Band), Fyah Wyah, Jeff “Frankie Love” Norad, Mike “Spirit” Jones (CFI Massive), Rudy, Zap, Pam Kristan (Talawa), Frogg E. Dreadlocks (S.W.A.M.M.P.), Norris Reid (Viceroys) and numerous dancehall deejays. Today the vocalist duties are diversified, being handled by Mitchell, Jones and Rubinstein.

The list of additional players of instrument over the years is led by Shawn “Shabba” Behanna (Fabulous Johnson Brothers) – saxophone, who returned to Ras Prophet in 2006 after a ten year detour when he was based out of Columbus, OH, and includes Johnny "Starrcat" Polansky (The Wailers, Ekoostik Hookah, CJ Chenier, and One Under); Jay Golden – sax; Tony Jones - sax; Kevin DeRose – trumpet; Craig Dye – trumpet; Price - percussion, Mark Veneri – keyboards; Macasea Bey – drums; and Steve Landay, Kevin Donell and Tim Donell - sound.

 

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