Trop rock is all about creating a laid back feel of the tropics, subdued waters and sunny warm feelings which are simple, enjoyable and create sensations of happiness. It is a combination of rock ‘n’ roll, reggae, country music, jazz, Caribbean, calypso music and zydeco.
Trop rock lovers describe the style of music in terms of what happens in the tropics. The musicians like to create imagery of tropical sensations such as warm wind, the water moving slowly to shore and the smells of salt and air. Conjuring up sunny days over the water, sitting in a beach chair, wearing tropical clothes and watching conga lines. It is often described as the music of escapism and travel or sitting in a tropical bar with some pals.
The instrumentation usually includes acoustic guitars, steel drums, congas, marimbas, vibes or other percussion instruments to create a tropical sound and feel. This instrumentation is not strict, and other rock and country instruments may make their way into songs.
The Roots of Trop Rock
People associate trop rock with the areas around southern Florida and the Gulf Coast of the United States. It has its beginnings in calypso, rock and country music. It is believed that the genre was made possible because of Jimmy Buffet and his folk style. Bertie Higgins came up with the term “trop rock” back in the 1980s. Trop rock was already flowing everywhere but didn’t have a name at the time.
Trop rock has become more mainstream since artists such as Jack Johnson, Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney have had hit songs. What started as a small subculture has grown significantly over the last few decades.
Trop rock continues to defy many of the critics who saw it as a passing phase. It will continue to grow in the future, and attract more musicians and fans, as it gains more mainstream coverage on radio and television. The style will continue to evolve and may take on other forms of music. Players will start to look for more creative ways of making tropical images more prominent in the music. Good times and more laid back sounds are ahead!