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Wooster Brings New Music to Hermosa

The band with an eclectic, beach-inspired sound plans to debut some new tunes at Saint Rocke.

In its largest , reggae-roots band Wooster is set to play at on Sunday night, along with Midnight Lamp and The Guitars.

Santa Cruz-based Wooster’s sound stirs together blues, soul and reggae anchored by resilient funk. Led by vocal duo Brian Gallagher and Caroline Kuspa, Gallagher’s poignant vocals harmonize with Caroline’s rich tone.

Guitarist-songwriter Gallagher said that he has immersed himself in reggae-rock music since his family moved from New York City to Orange County before his formative years.

He quickly took up surfing and adapted to the California lifestyle. But the band’s name, "Wooster," is a reminder of his roots.

"My dad was an artist and we lived in SoHo until I was nine," Gallagher said. "So out of tribute to my old block, Wooster Street, it ended up being an easy band name."

After moving north to Santa Cruz for his college years, Gallagher realized he wanted to write music and aimed to record an album.

While in the studio, he didn’t know it at the time, but what came of his initial solo project evolved into the formation of a new band with Zack Donoghue on lead guitar, Dustin Hengl on trumpet, and Gianni Stalano on Hammond organ.

The sport of volleyball brought Kuspa to the group.

"I was a volleyball coach, and that’s how I met Caroline," Gallagher said. "She was a volleyball player on one of my teams and had an amazing voice, so I asked her to join and fortunately she joined."

Then the owner of the studio later persuaded Gallagher to ditch his drummer and bassist, and hire Bobby Hanson (bass) and Nate Fredrick (drums) to replace them.

"After Bobby and Nate came in, we had one of those magical moments and immediately became a band," Gallagher said.

Wooster’s debut album, The Height Of Things, was released in 2009, which upon the band built a loyal following in northern California.

Though it has been together for some time, Wooster remains consistent on the up tick, playing shows throughout the West Coast and now heading to the South Bay to showcase new material for the first time.

After the success of its tour, the band is ready to record its second album.

"I always loved music and never saw myself doing anything else," Gallagher said. "I always saw it as an investment."

And he’s right. The rhythm guitar player put nearly $30,000 of his own money into the band’s first album, and doesn’t regret it.

"I haven’t made a dime from it but the band is making great money and it’s all going back into the project and everything we do is a continuous investment," Gallagher said.

The time in between albums has allowed for the band’s sound to mature and organically evolve.

"One song will be a soul song, then the next could be a rock/blues song, and one of our strengths is that we change things up and keep the music fresh," Gallagher said.

As the band prepares for Saint Rocke, Gallagher told Patch that the crowd Sunday night will be in for a treat, even if they aren’t familiar with Wooster’s material.

"We’re going to go balls to the wall and give them everything we got, so the people who are coming should expect a great show from us," he said.

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