Thursday’s show was headlined by the very popular roots-reggae band John Brown’s Body, long a fixture in national touring-act circles.

JBB’s live show has the kind of organic, body-rocking sound that’s only possible with an 8-piece band where air tight drum and bass, a three piece horn section, and “the most gorgeous melodies in all of modern reggae music” [All Music Guide] meeting a dubbed-out sound engineer. Their appearance at Putnam Den wss long-anticipated by the band’s loyal local following.

Those fans were well-advised to arrive early, as the support act on this bill played to impress — as well as making a slew of predicted “I was there when they just got rolling…” bragging rights for tonight’s lucky ticket holders.

That band is the indie-darling, West-African psychedelic funk act BARIKA. The Burlington-based group is named after an eastern Algerian province — which is only partially appropriate, given the many varied influences for this very unique ensemble which is quickly gaining steam in both the jam festival and world beat universes.

Leader Craig Myers had studied traditional West African music for 13 years, traveling through Mali, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Guinea before hooking up with Burlington pals Caleb Bronze (drums), Rob Morse (bass), Andric Severence (keys), and a powerhouse of horns with Dave Purcell (trumpet), Gordon Clark (trombone) and Deva Racusin (sax) to create what Thread Magazine calls a high energy sound “in the likes of the powerfully rooted Afro-Beat music of such artists as Fela Kuti or King Sunny Ade, with the modern edge and pop of the more recent Rubblebucket and Toubab Krewe.

Myers’ weapon of choice is the kamel n’goni, a West African lute-harp from the Wassoulou region with origins in hunting tribe folk-recreation traditions.  It acts as the driving force to BARIKA’s sound, augmented by deep horn funk and bass grooves, sharp drums hits and space-jam organ riffs.

Performer Magazine called Barika “wholly rhythmic, captivating audiences with the beautiful, hypnotic way in which they interweave melody and groove to create something that is not only danceable, but incredibly interesting to listen to. Barika creates a soundscape of funk soaked in psychedelic, West African resonance. The outfit stands out because they are multidimensional.”

Not bad for a Thursday night in wintry downtown Saratoga…