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Named in honor of the legendary abolitionist, reggae unit John Brown's Body was led by singer/guitarist Kevin Kinsella, a longtime fan of Caribbean music who formed the group Tribulations while attending college in Boston in 1989. Three years later they took top honors in the annual Yamaha Soundcheck contest, touring Japan as a result; in 1993 Tribulations also recorded in Jamaica, releasing the LPs The Gate and Daddy Good Pieces before disbanding. Striving for a more organic roots reggae sound, Kinsella founded John Brown's Body in 1995 with bassist Joshua Neuman, keyboardist Sam Godin, trumpeter Paul Merrill, saxophonist Lee Hamilton, backing vocalist Elliot Martin and drummer Tommy Benedetti; debuting in 1997 with All Time, the outfit signed to Shanachie to issue the follow-up Among Them two years later. This Day followed in early 2000.