Jeffa Vegas sold everything except his ukulele and left his native island of Kauai, Hawaii 10 years ago to follow a girl to Southern California. He and the girl decided to just-be-friends, but Jeffa began an ongoing love affair with the relaxed vibe of Santa Barbara, CA.
Jeffa has since planted his roots and has blossomed into one of the most respected artists in the fertile Santa Barbara reggae music scene that has in recent years yielded such successful national acts as Rebelution and Iration, both of whom he has close ties with. He played ukulele on Iration’s latest album, Hotting Up and occasionally joins them in their live show. Most recently, Jeffa performed onstage with Iration at their sold out show at their legendary hometown venue, the Santa Barbara Bowl, a 4,500-capacity amphitheater where Bob Marley famously performed his last American concert.
Like most Hawaiians, Jeffrey “Jeffa” Vegas Jr. was practically born with a ukulele in his hands. Hawaiian grade schools teach kids ukulele starting in kindergarten.
As Jeffa explains, “Music is what locals do when they’re not at work or in the water!”
Jeffa happened to have an uncle who worked in the island’s thriving film industry and was infamous for jamming with the movie stars on set. Uncle Donovan, who sang falsetto while playing an 8-string uke, took Jeffa under his wing and coached him on the ways of music, harmony and songwriting throughout his teenage years. This led to Jeffa forming his first band Kalapaki, which quickly became one of the most popular acts on the island.
Once he relocated to the mainland it didn’t take Jeffa long to work his way up from busking in the streets, to becoming a regular weekly fixture at the local farmers market, to residencies in several bars and restaurants. All of this led to Jeffa connecting with Steel Pulse percussionist Scorpion (drums), Cornerstone members Cody Whitley (lead guitar), Pascal Sada (bass), Alex Chantes (Cajon Drum) as well as Gustavo Lizarraga (saxophone) and Cody French (percussion) to form the long running reggae collective called One2Tree.
One2Tree are notorious in Southern California for their tireless 30-40 song repertoire of covers, originals and eclectic mash-up/medleys that traverse reggae, dancehall, funk, pop and Motown soul. One2Tree has become an in-demand band for parties, special events, weddings, etc as well as opening shows for legends such as Pato Banton, Barrington Levy, and Big Mountain.
Jeffa is currently in the process of making his debut solo record with the help of Billboard-award winning producer/songwriter Emile Millar (Kelly Dalton, Brad Byrd, The Lapdancers, Nano Whitman, etc). He is excited to expand his sound to incorporate more elements of modern soul and R&B in the vein of contemporaries such as Mayer Hawthorne, Leon Bridges, Drake and Bruno Mars.