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Island jams: Reggae style came natuarlly to ABQ’s The Riddims

Chris Cruz’s meeting the rest of the musicians in The Riddims was serendipitous.

About five years ago, Cruz was performing in a ska band.

He then met Myles Chavez and Donovan Ortiz, both of whom were playing in a metal band. Enter Petey Gabaldon and Tony Gallegos, and the circle was complete.

After talking about starting a new band together, the sound for The Riddims became clear – the genre would be reggae.

“The band’s sound organically came out as reggae,” Cruz says in a phone interview. “It’s not like we set out to start a reggae band. We were jamming, and that’s what came out.”

It’s no wonder.

Cruz is familiar with ska and reggae, and Chavez grew up listening to and playing reggae music.

It’s a style that suited them and a lifestyle that they were familiar with.

“It’s been a journey for sure,” Cruz says.

In that five-year journey, The Riddims have released one EP, “Homegrown,” in 2016.

The band also gains experience with touring – locally and regionally.

The Riddims has shared the stage with New Kingston, Hirie, Seedless, E.N Young, Through the Roots, Arise Roots, Iya Terra, The Supervillians, Brewfish, Fayuca, Black Bottom Lighters, and reggae legends Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare.

Being based in Albuquerque, the band has plenty of opportunities to open for national touring acts, Cruz says.

In doing so, The Riddims developed a relationship with the bands, which helps them when they are booking tours.

“We’ve met a lot of cool musicians,” he says. “We’ve played with quite a few of the touring bands. Some of the bands were able to help us out when we did a two-week run in California last year. That’s what it’s all about. We develop these friendships because they are great people. We never expected to get help booking tours that way.”

With the new year beginning, Cruz is looking forward to creating new music with the band and going on tour.

“Right now, we play out about two or three times a month,” he says. “The way we work it out is by planning in advance. We all have day jobs, and to get our schedules together does take work. We don’t book a show unless all of us are on board.”