For five years, Northern California’s own Red Di Band has set itself apart. With a fan base that spans from Australia to Mexico with the biggest concentration in the San Francisco Bay Area, Red Di’s homegrown-flavored Reggae is creating its own unique genre.

Until this CD release, if I wanted to hear Red Di, I had to catch them at one of their many performances, and Red Di is busy, which explains their ever-growing and loyal fan base. Now with the release of “Gwaan True,” produced by the band’s rhythm guitarist Ed Elizalde, I can experience the Reggae/rock sound of this popular band in my own living room.

The CD cover is an artsy, psychedelic piece of work, and the sound quality is very good, which makes sense since it was recorded at Awesome Sound Studio in Hayward, California.

The title, “Gwaan True,” according to the band members means “going true,”–not selling out, and/or a belief in truth. By featuring ten original songs, Red Di definitely remains true to itself and its fans.

Lead vocalist/songwriter/rhythm guitarist Frank Castro penned six of the songs and has a harmonious, sweet voice and classic guitar style that clearly displays his musical influences, which include rock, blues, R&B and Reggae. Frank’s songs are about life’s experiences. “It’s About a Woman” is a lovers rock tune. Bobby Black’s Pedal Steel (his only appearance on the CD) gives the music an exotic Jawaiian tinge. Franks’s other songs are well named: the political “Skeletons in the Closet,” “True Love,” “Adversity,” “Man on a Mission,” and “One World/One Rhythm.”

Toaster Mustapha Craig’s trademark rough/tough deejay style adds that Jamaican dancehall quality on many of the songs, and he performs his own dub, “Jah Kallin,” with skankin’ bass by Mike Tringali, and background vocals by Tamara Haynes & Karen Smith. Mike also wrote “Take a Chance” and “One Night Love.”

The piano, organ and synth playing of Steve Hoffman proves there is more than the tink, tink, tink style of traditional Reggae keyboards. From classical piano to Ragtime, Steve is a true musician, “I found a great love and respect for Ragtime, which made for an easy transition later on to Reggae. If you listen to the beat that the left hand keeps in Ragtime, you’ll notice that it is nearly identical, though about twice as complex, as the skank in Reggae keyboard playing,” says Steve.

Founder and drummer Danny Molina studied under percussionist Mingo Lewis (formerly with Santana and The Tubes). His drumming is solid and keeps it all together.

Is “Gwaan True” pure reggae? No Mon! Mike Tringali said it best, “I like the elements of Reggae music that make it pure, but it’s the varied influences of all the band members that makes our music a different sound. And a sound that works.”

For more information about the band, the CD or booking, check out their website at:, or contact their manager: Mary Kirk, 43222 Starr St. #4, Fremont, CA 94539, USA. Phone: (510) 651.6026. E-mail: