Rasta Rafiki

Rasta Rafiki is; Derrick McDonald on lead vocals and percussion, John Schmitt on lead guitar, Thomas P. Batchelor on rhythm guitar and vocals, Deborah Tome on trombone, Andy Lindsay on bass, Steven Markle on drums and David Loyd on keyboards. ​ Rasta Rafiki strives to produce music that is equally appealing to the mind as well as the body. Since our inception, we’ve attempted to bring our music to as wide an audience as possible with the express purpose of promoting peace, equality, and understanding in an ever desensitized world, while at the same time supplying a healthy dose of fun!!

In late 1989, Rasta Rafiki formed in Morgantown, West Virginia in an attempt to create a danceable blend of rock and reggae. Throughout 1990, we worked hard to establish ourselves in West Virginia and neighboring areas as a high energy ensemble performing cover and original material. While increasing our repetoire of original material, we collected a solid following of regional fans that allowed us to build a diverse live performance schedule that included bar and nightclub, as well as festival, college and private venues.

Continuing to perform live, we began to record at a local studio and in early 1992 Rasta Rafiki released its first independent cassette, “Eco Geo”. “Eco Geo” is a mixture of styles ranging from roots reggae and calypso to guitar rock. This recording was well received by our fans and helped us to generate interest from club owners to increase our live circuit, which included West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

February 1993 brought the release of our first CD and second record, “Cousins”. This CD not only showed the band’s progress in songwriting but also reflects the live show, as several of the tracks were recorded live. Select college and commercial stations have received “Cousins”; it is enjoying airplay and often attracts requests. In 1994, two tracks form the “Cousins” CD, “Good Calypso” and “Elm Tree”, appeared in the film “National Lampoon’s Last Resort”.

In April 1995, Rasta Rafiki released their third recording, “Stream of Consciousness”, on Blue Duck Records. “Stream” represents a years’ plus work on 9 original tracks, honed on the road and captured in the studio. During the recording, the tour schedule included over 150 dates, including club, college, and festival appearances from Boston, MA to Florida. This CD reflected the growth of the band as an ensemble as well as a vehicle for positive social commentary. ​

By 1997 the combo has seem to run out of steam and disbanding soon followed most thought this would be the end of the story. ​ Members drifted to different parts of the country persuing diverse career paths. ​ By 2007 five members we’re back in West Virginia, and Derrick McDonald in Tampa began talking of getting together to do a few shows have some fun. ​ Those first couple shows proved so successful that Rasta Rafiki decided to come together for shows relatively annually as schedules allowed.