October 6, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 59°F


Reggae group brings Jamaican sounds to Ithaca

People walking into the Lost Dog Lounge on a Wednesday night are hit with a wall of reggae. The atmosphere is laid-back as the band belts out song after song for not only the people dancing and listening, but also for its own enjoyment. The eight-piece group pumps out island tunes that make it nearly impossible for people not to join the surreal groove on the dimly lit dance floor.

From left, Millionaires of Love singer Winston Watson, keyboardist Daniel Frankhuizen, an Ithaca College freshman, and guitarist and vocalist Kevin Kinsella perform at the band’s weekly set last night at the Lost Dog Lounge. Emma Strachman/The Ithacan

Those responsible for the weekly Wednesday night scene are the Millionaires of Love, a local reggae band. Freshman Daniel Frankhuizen, Millionaires of Love’s keyboardist, said the group came together in August with the idea of forming either a funk or rock-steady reggae group.
“The drummer, David Gould … gathered members … in the community to just play, and we kind of had a few jams with a couple of different people,” Frankhuizen said. “[It] really just came together like that as a reggae band.”

The band includes the usual bass, drums, guitar, keyboard and vocals, but Millionaires of Love also features a trumpet and tenor saxophone, giving the group a ska feel.

Gould said he had always wanted to establish a group like this in town. He had previously been a member of the Ithaca-based reggae group John Brown’s Body, along with Ithaca residents Kevin Kinsella and Lee Hamilton, guitarist and saxophonist, respectively, in the Millionaires of Love.

“There is a vast library of music out there from Jamaica,” he said. “I want to bring that music to the people.”

The group got its name from a song by Albert Griffiths and the Gladiators, a reggae group from Jamaica, Gould said. He sees it as a way to incorporate the fact that a lot of the band’s music is about love. Ithaca resident Elisa Sciscioli, the group’s lead vocalist, expanded the love theme to the band’s music career.

“Our name … ties into the message … [of] having it being more about a love of music rather than money,” she said.

Frankhuizen said the band, whose members are from Ithaca and Rochester, tries to get together to rehearse during the week before its regular Wednesday performance. Gathering everyone can prove difficult because they all work outside of the band.

Sciscioli teaches adult and teenage voice lessons for the Ithaca Community School of Music and Arts and said her life is very much about music.

Gould said guitarist and vocalist Wil McKenna teaches guitar lessons in Rochester and makes the drive to Ithaca each week for the band’s performances. Gould owns a candle making business called Sunbeam Candles, which sells to natural food stores all over the country, including Ithaca’s own Greenstar Market.

The fact that the Millionaires of Love is such an eclectic group of performers and instruments makes it interesting, Frankhuizen said. Some members of the band had played together before, like the members who had been in John Brown’s Body, while others are entirely new to the mix.

“The group has a very interesting dynamic,” Frankhuizen said. “It’s a large group and so it’s hard to … have everyone on the same page, but at the same time, that’s what makes it fun.”

The band is particular about the music it plays, Frankhuizen said — it only covers songs written after 1975. The Millionaires of Love also writes its own roots reggae–style music.

“[The music is] real, rock-steady Jamaican music,” Frankhuizen said. “The music we play is as island as it gets.”

The Millionaires of Love’s regular Wednesday night shows give both faithful fans and interested newcomers plenty of opportunities to check out the band.

Freshman Mike Capone attended a Millionaires of Love performance two weeks ago and said it was his first experience with reggae music. A friend recommended the show, he said, and he definitely liked what he heard.

“A lot of the stuff I listen to is usually very dramatic and … intense,” he said. “But this is very laid back, very cool.”

Freshman Violet Goncarovs said she had seen the band before and the music made her want to come back.

“It’s really great dancing music,” she said. “It’s very accessible. It’s not something that you have to know a lot about to enjoy.”

The Millionaires of Love play around 10 p.m. every Wednesday at the Lost Dog Lounge.