New Year’s sendoff

  • Mike Chadinha on the drums with Brett Wilson in Roots of Creation. COURTESY PHOTO

  • Mike Chadinha of Roots of Creation will leave the band after their New Year’s Eve show. COURTESY PHOTOS

  • Courtesy photo—(c) 2016 All rights reserved

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, December 27, 2017 7:50PM

Roots of Creation drummer Mike Chadinha is going to miss that Pittsburgh pulled pork.

The Steel City is just one of the many stops Chadinha and the band have hit over their past 17 years together on tour.

“I see people that you see in every town, that you kind of became friends with,” Chadinha said. “You know that every time you go to this town, you’re going to see these people and it will be fun.”

In Pittsburgh, that person is Chris Burek. “We call him Barbecue Burek,” Chadinha said. “He’s just a hilarious guy. He comes to every show and he always brings a huge thing of pulled pork, broccoli salad, and he’s just the man.”

After nearly two decades of playing reggae shows around the country, from dorm rooms to festival stages, Chadinha and Roots of Creation have made connections like that in cities all across the map. And it’s those connections that made Chadinha’s recent decision to leave the band so hard. He’ll play his final show as a touring member of Roots of Creation Sunday night, when the band plays their New Year’s Eve show at the Flying Monkey in Plymouth.

“I’m excited and a little anxious about that being it,” Chadinha said. “I’m ready. I think that night will bring all the feels. I’m ready and it’s good timing, it’s New Year’s Eve, it kind of all makes sense.”

It hit hard last weekend, too, as the band toured from Buffalo to Brooklyn, and Chadinha sat on stage at the Brooklyn Bowl wondering if that was the last time he’d play the legendary venue.

“Knowing that it was coming to an end with the guys, it was a pretty fun weekend,” Chadinha said.

The beginning was way back in the early 2000s, when Chadinha, Brett Wilson and Tal Pearson started playing together as they all attended Franklin Pierce. The band grew into a touring act and later a sensation; they were voted Best of New Hampshire at the New England Music Awards, and debuted their last album, “Livin’ Free,” at No. 1 on the Billboard reggae charts.

“The toughest part is that he’s not just the drummer, he’s been a close friend and bandmate for a very long time,” Wilson said. “He knows that if I hit a certain pedal, we’re going to go into a certain type of jamming. There’s an intuition and a psychological connection that is unmatched.”

But despite the success and the friendship, life on the road wore on Chadinha. As with any band, there were moments when he considered walking away.

“There was always something that kept me hanging on,” he said.

Now, he’s leaving the band on the eve of another major leap of success. Roots of Creation’s next album, “Grateful Dub,” comes out in January. The album, produced by five-time Grammy winner Errol Morris, features the band’s reggae takes on Grateful Dead songs, and has been generating a lot of early buzz. With Roots of Creation poised to move up a tier in the music world — playing bigger shows to more people, and touring for the majority of the year — Chadinha was finally ready to move on.

“Now that we’re at this place, it’s kind of weird and this is how I know it’s right,” Chadinha said. “The band’s doing better than it’s ever done. They’re about to do more shows than they’ve ever done, touring, and have a good team behind them. Everything’s better than it’s ever been, and it’s kind of like that’s how I knew — I had no questions. I know that this is time for me to go.”

Sunday’s sendoff at the Flying Monkey will be a fitting end, capping off the year with a cathartic final show. The band will play an original set and a set of tunes from the “Grateful Dub” album, with Jerry Garcia Band guitarist Zach Nugent sitting in.

For the foreseeable future, Alex Brander of Big D and the Kids’ Table, who played percussion on RoC’s upcoming album, will fill in on drums as the band searches for a longterm replacement.

“We have to find someone that can bring something new to the table, because there’s no way we’re going to replace the chemistry,” Wilson said. “We’re going to find someone that has some other things in their back pocket, give us some fresh energy and help us continue the momentum we have but also lay down the parts that are integral that our fans want to hear, not changing things too much.”

Chadinha will continue to record with Roots of Creation in-studio, and will likely sit in from time to time. With his newfound downtime, he plans on focusing more on working with venues and booking bands — “working on the other side of the business,” he said — and progressing as a musician while playing locally.

And, he said, he’ll have a chance to see the country on his own terms, something he never got to do while on tour.

“I've traveled so much with the band, but every time I do that, I always wanted to travel with her," Chadinha said, indicating his wife Heather. "Do it at your own pace. We've been so many places where it's like 'This is amazing -- I wish Heather was here. I wish I could stay for a couple days.'”

Who knows? Maybe he’ll even find some more of that pulled pork.

Roots of Creation takes the stage at the Flying Monkey Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. For ticket info, visit www.flyingmonkeynh.com.