On a recent weekday evening, only a couple of bar stools sit empty at Santa Rosa’s new Whiskey Tip bar in Roseland. Owner Justin Neuroth is in the kitchen, putting the final spices on a basket of signature Bacon Bombs for a buddy who helped him remodel what was once the old Gigas dive bar on Sebastopol Road.
The renovated building is now full of swanky décor and party functionality, ready for a summer packed with touring bands, DJ-hosted Sunday brunches and everything from karaoke to WFC fights. With over 90 varieties of whiskey, there is a lot of potential for the Whiskey Tip to be the next great venue in Sonoma County.
Outside, the 2,200-square-foot patio has murals by local graffiti artist Gabriel Adams, and opposite a beer bar, the stage is going up just in time for Santa Cruz reggae rockers Thrive to perform this Saturday night. Thrive continue to tour after releasing their second studio-length album, Relentless, in May. The record reached considerable heights on the iTunes reggae charts, which has helped make the band one of Northern California’s leading opener acts for reggae stars like Barrington Levy, Tarrus Riley and SOJA.
Still, the band is hardworking and consistent about developing new material. “I’m in my home studio every day,” says lead vocalist and guitarist Aaron Borowitz. “When I’m traveling, I bring it with me.” Over the past year, Thrive’s evolving musical range is spearheading a unique style of California reggae, where pop, rock and R&B fuse with reggae’s skankin’ guitar riffs. “Those influences are starting to shine as our group matures,” says Borowitz.
The last few months brought drastic change for the band with the loss of their saxophone player, Petaluma native Scott Shipper. He was 29 when he died of cancer in December. “We respected Scott’s knowledge of music and his work ethic, not only with the band, but with his charity Unify to Thrive,” says Borowitz.
What hasn’t changed, though, is the conscious lyricism of their music. Every verse exhales positivity. They sing about love and unity, and like the breeziness of their melodies, they delve just far enough into social injustice to keep it real without getting upset.
Helping Thrive keep it classy is Hawaiian native Hirie, who plays island-sweet melodies on her ukulele. This could be the start of something great, and Lord knows Santa Rosa needs it.
Thrive play the Whiskey Tip on Saturday, March 8, at 8pm. $5. 1910 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa. 707.843.5535.