The Caribbean Allstars are pioneers in the Bay Area reggae scene and longtime regulars at Ashkenaz. The ensemble, whose geographical roots range from Jamaica and South America to West Africa and the U.S., began joining together their musical forces and international backgrounds during the early 1970s. Out of such predecessors as Obeah and the Sons of Creation, the Caribbean Allstars were formed and became the founding fathers of Bay Area roots reggae. Although many musicians have come through the band since its founding, it has long been guided by its director, Trinidad-born drummer Hugh “Sweetfoot” Maynard.
The Caribbean Allstars not only play Jamaican reggae with a traditional electric bass-drums-guitars-keyboards lineup, but also add steel drums to bring in South Caribbean calypso and soca styles of Trinidad and Tobago, producing rhythms that drive listeners to the dance floor. Over the years the band has performed with an array of talent sitting in, including Taj Mahal, Narada Michael Walden, and Carlos Santana. Santana played on their second album and introduced them as “my favorite band” at the 1987 Bay Area Music Awards (Bammies). The Allstars were featured on Ashkenaz’s 30th anniversary CD and have for many years been one of the core bands of the extended Ashkenaz world music and dance community.