Chill Vibe

Songwriter Jared Masters likens The Illies' music to the reggae band's favorite hangout, the Illinois River.

"The band has the same feeling as the river," he says. "We're slow, real laid-back and chill ... that's the vibe of our whole thing."

And while Masters says the band fits the reggae stereotype — "stoners with dreadlocks" — The Illies' motley repertoire is not so easy to profile. The band plays a "singer-songwriterish" brand of reggae with elements of soul, rock, blues, ska and jazz.

"A good reference for what we do is a combination of The Skatalites, Jack Johnson, Slightly Stoopid, Gregory Isaacs and Amy Winehouse," Masters says.

The Illies' latest configuration is Masters, guitarist "Rabbit," keyboardist Lexington "Nacho" Mainard, drummer Scott Mangicaro and bassist T.J. Eilers. The band will play its "heavy-hittin', slow-groovin' " mix at 9 p.m. Friday, March 8, at Alex's Plaza Restaurant and Bar, 35 N. Main St., Ashland. The cover charge is $5. Call 541-482-8818.

"We play a lot of different genres, but that's also who we are as people," Masters says. "I'm the blues side of it, Rabbit is the jazz, T.J.'s the reggae, Lexington is the skank and Scott is the hip-hop."

Formed in 2009, the band has performed up and down the Interstate-5 corridor from San Diego to Seattle, as well as in Hawaii.

"We're West Coast boys," Masters says. "I don't really care for the East Coast much."

In 2011, the band drove — and Masters hitchhiked — to Huntington Beach, Calif., where they recorded their debut, "Seaweeds," at the Everblue Recording Studio. They purchased and sold 1,000 copies of the CD.

Now they're working on a second album featuring more of Masters' poetic and metaphorical songs. The lyrics are about daily life, problems, relationships, partyin', space and time, he says.

"Songwriting is my forte, and I'm proud of what I write," he says. "I think it's pretty good stuff. It's not cliché bull——."

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