Meet the ‘killer bass player’ of the UP community
Living > Meet the ‘killer bass player’ of the UP community

Meet the ‘killer bass player’ of the UP community

Audio Visual Specialist Larry Wiggins doubles as reggae musician

Larry Wiggins preforming live. Wiggins is described as introverted off-stage, but when preforming becomes a new person.

Photo courtesy Sean Sweeney.

Recognized by its pounding bass and drum foundation, reggae music offers a depth of emotion to listeners that draws them in with its warm and upbeat sound.

Larry Wiggins, an audio visual specialist on campus, is devoted to sharing his passion for reggae music in any way that he can.

Larry Wiggins preforming live. Wiggins is a member of two bands, The Cascadians and L and T.

Photo courtesy Sean Sweeney.

“I would like it if my music could help people realize that their feelings have more depth than they thought,” Wiggins said. “And I don't want anybody to feel like they're not invited to the party.”

Raised on the East Coast in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Wiggins isn’t a typical Portland musician.

Developing his skills within reggae music, he’s made an impact on the lively and welcoming  reggae culture in Portland. Wiggins is a performer and songwriter, using his experience in audio-visual work to produce music for his two bands, The Cascadians and L and T. 

When he’s not onstage, he uses his technical skills to help out the UP community as an audio visual specialist. This includes managing any audiovisual equipment used on campus and troubleshooting technology issues that affect students and faculty. 

Wiggins has always been absorbed in the world of music and production. Having grown up around the music scene, he’s developed a life deeply rooted in performing and creating music.

“I was about 10 or 11 years old when I got my first bass guitar,” Wiggins said. “My uncle, Mike, was a bass player and he's a professional musician. He was the best musician that people had ever met. And that always inspired me, I wanted to be like him.”

He began developing his musical abilities throughout middle and high school. Once he could hold a tune, he was joining bands to experience as many genres of music as he could. He started out playing heavy metal in a high school band, then tried salsa in college. 

Larry Wiggins is performer and songwriter for two bands. He is an audio-visual specialist at UP.
by Marek Corsello / The Beacon

“Facing that challenge of playing really inspired me to push myself to be better holistically as a musician,” Wiggins said.

He had produced music since he was a teenager, but once he graduated from Rutgers University he began working professionally as an audio-visual technician. It was around this time that he fell into the reggae music scene and found a passion in ska: a genre of reggae originating from Jamaica.

“I was invited to play in a ska band, I didn't even think I really liked ska,” Wiggins said. “But the band that approached me, offered me a chance to play and that sound intrigued me. I just started digging into it and trying to sound good in that form.”

Within that band, he began songwriting and contributing his own personal touch to the music he was performing.

Larry Wiggins preforming live.

Photo courtesy Bryan Kremkau.

In 2017, he ended up in Portland finding ways to perform in backing bands for touring artists. That’s where he was discovered by Terrence Paschal, who was putting together a new band: The Cascadians.

The Casacadians are an eight member band, developing their sound in a blend of ska, rocksteady and reggae.

Formed by ska artists across the US, the group is constantly growing and developing. Wiggins is one of the constants, keeping the band in a forward momentum with his songwriting.

“That band is not a band without Larry,” Paschal said. “If he ever was like, ‘I'm out’, I'd be like, ‘alright, let's just end it.’”

Coming up with about half of The Cascadians’ material, Wiggins is finely-attuned to the art of writing reggae tracks and performing them.

Even though Wiggins leans more toward the introverted side, the stage is where his bandmates can see him come out of his shell. Buddy-Jay Kieffer, who plays tenor saxophone in The Cascadians, has gotten to know Wiggins well over the years. 

“Generally speaking, he's on the introverted side,” Kieffer said. “Then once the music starts, he can really pop off and get wild on stage throwing his dreadlocks around and jumping up and down.” 

Near the back of the stage in any Cascadians performance, you can find Wiggins and Paschal jamming out, laying the foundation to any great reggae song — drums and bass.

“He’s a killer bass player,” Paschal said. “One of the best I've ever played with.”

Larry Wiggins preforming live. Wiggins has a passion in a genre of reggae known as ska.

Photo courtesy Dreadneck Photography.

Wiggins has been Paschal’s ride-or-die bass player since they met. They can count on each other for any new project where music is involved.

During the pandemic, when Cascadians came to a pause, Wiggins and Paschal felt the urge to keep making music. So they created their own band: L and T.

It’s a passion project that allows them to develop a new sound and make as much music as they want. L and T captures a more stripped down sound that focuses on drums and guitar to capture the essence of reggae music. 

“The Cascadians is, first and foremost, a ska band,” Wiggins said. “So all the music tends to be a bit more upbeat. But it's also The Cascadians, so it's gonna sound like those people that are in the band. And if those people change, it's going to sound like those people in the band. Whereas in L and T, we're doing pretty much strictly reggae. So that sound is almost always slower. And because neither Terrence or myself are vocalists, those songs almost always sound different because we bring in people to do vocals.”

Their most recent vocalist: Martin Luther King Jr.

One year after Wiggins came up with the idea to write a song for Martin Luther King Day, he released it on Jan. 17 earlier this year. “To The King,” is a duo of reggae tracks with segments from MLK’s speeches overlaid. 

L and T "To The King" album cover. Released on January 17, 2022, the duo of songs includes audio of MLK's speeches.

Photo courtesy of Spotify.

Wiggins used excerpts from MLK’s speech “The Other America” in the title song. The speech focuses on the darker side of America: the poverty and injustice that Black America was experiencing.

“I wanted to do something so more people would hear this other part of Dr. King that I think is important to understanding the position he was in, like who he was talking to and add depth to what he really was about,” Wiggins said.

L and T used “To The King” as an opportunity to partner with Every Child PDX, an organization dedicated to supporting children and families in the foster care system. 

“We just figured, we got these two tracks, let's get some new music out there and try to help the community, really take on the legacy of Dr. King,” Paschal said.

The music is important, but the real impact of Wiggins’ music is doing what he can to help the Portland community.

“He wants to use his gifts and talents to share them with people,” Paschal said. “I don't think people understand how much he wants to help his community and the people around him because he can be quiet. But Larry is not about Larry, he’s about the world.”

Larry Wiggins preforming live. Photo courtesy Dreadneck Photography.