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Reggae 141

Sunday, 26 August 2012 00:00

Coney Island Reggae Sound System

In Jamaica in the 1950s and ’60s, locally produced music (American R&B covers, ska, then reggae) rarely made it onto the radio because it was considered inferior to what was being produced abroad. Instead it was common for homegrown music to be played over large sound systems in public spaces. Over time this practice became as much a part of reggae as the music itself; it is supposed to be heard over large sound systems. Without that conduit, many aficionados believe, you lose something.  When Carter Van Pelt was wandering along the Coney Island boardwalk four summers ago, it dawned on him: the open space, the lack of nearby residences, the built-in audience made it a perfect place to play reggae the way they do in Jamaica.

Sunday, 26 August 2012 00:00


Matisyahu will be heading to college towns around the U.S. later this year to support his most recent album, Spark Seeker. The trek for the newly clean-shaven reggae/hip-hop artist will begin October 10 at the Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins, Colo., and the singer will remain on the road through a November 21 show at Backstage Live San Antonio. In between those dates, Matisyahu will visit Sacramento, Calif.; Baton Rouge; Athens, Ga.; Rochester, N.Y.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; St. Louis and Dallas. In a statement the singer explained his decision to tour in college towns this fall.  I’ve played a lot of these markets in past summers,” he said. “To be able to return when school is in session and kids are on campus is something I’ve wanted to do for a while.”

If music is all about the journey, inside and far out, then those who make the pilgrimage to the Soul Kitchen Music Hall in downtown Mobile tonight had better pack their bags. Co-headlining the 7:30 p.m. show with West Coast group The Dirty Heads is Matisyahu. The 33-year-old phenom has built a career over the last decade sharing his philosophy, spirituality and creativity with audiences around the world, covering a spectrum that pings from rap to reggae to pop, with reverberating Hebrew chanting interjected along the way.  That won't change when he takes the stage tonight, though plenty more has. Gone is the long, wiry beard and yarmulke that helped identify Matisyahu's devotion as a Hasidic Jew. Instead, his tall, then frame is topped with a face that's clean-shaven with a shock of blond hair up top.

Sunday, 26 August 2012 00:00

Reggae Artist Case Defferred

The sentencing of reggae star Finley Quaye, who carried out a racially aggravated assault on a woman in Edinburgh, has been deferred after he failed to pay his lawyer.  Quaye had earlier admitted spitting on a woman's face and punching her in Leith Walk in October 2011. Sentence on the 38-year-old, from London, had been deferred for reports. However, his lawyer withdrew from the case after telling Edinburgh Sheriff Court he had not been paid. The case was deferred again until 5 October. Sheriff Fiona Reith told Quaye he could either represent himself or hire another lawyer. Quaye said he thought it would be better to have legal representation.The sheriff told him: "If you are going to engage a lawyer, you will have to pay. People don't do it for nothing."

Tuesday, 21 August 2012 00:00

Where Did Reggae Come From Pt. 2

With Jamaica celebrating 50 years of Independence, there has been, quite understandably, a look at what has happened in the country's history. That is no less true of the country's music. This year, The Gleaner has published, on a number of occasions, different aspects of that history. In one 'Story of the Song', a weekly feature produced by Mel Cooke, Toots Hibbert spoke of first coming up with the term 'reggae'. More recently, Edward Seaga spoke about The Heptones being responsible for the first real reggae track. The views are uncountable, but as Jamaica looks at 50 more years of Independence, we continue to look with much curiosity at our past.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012 00:00

Reggae Bad Boys To The Rescue

WITH over 40 years in the music under their belt, Inner Circle has just about seen and done it all. Recently, the band launched their latest, and arguably, most important, initiative.  Their dissatisfaction with contemporary Jamaican music inspired the Saving The Reggae Music campaign. Bass player and founding member Ian Lewis warns that "unless proper steps are taken, then we are going to lose the best thing that we ever had." Lewis says current reggae is too influenced by American hip hop. In light of this trend, the group is pushing their latest song, This Is Reggae Music, a cover of the Zap Pow band's hit song from the early 1970s.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012 00:00

Music Is A Mission, Not A Competition

The proven adage of conscious reggae music is the guiding theme of Glen Washington's new 17-track album, Masterpiece (ZHP). Reflecting his personal and artistic commitment to truth, rights and love, Masterpiece shows the mission is fully on course. From serious conscious roots, to playful lovers reggae, Glen Washington lends, not just his voice but his soul to a masterpiece of both music and message. Signature Zion I Kings musical arrangements emphasise layers of sound in which the interplay of percussion, breezy horns and bubbling bass lines tell a story themselves. Here, Washington's husky vocals lead the listener on a reggae journey inspired by soul, mento and gospel. Glen Washington's Masterpiece is available July 10 worldwide on Zion High Productions via A-Train Entertainment (digital), Ernie B Reggae (CD/USA) and August 1 via CRS (CD/Europe).

Bob Marley's son Ziggy has revealed that the reggae legend wanted his music to be reached out to more Black American fans.  Even though Marley was influenced by American rhythm and blues artists, his own music was slow to catch on with African-Americans during his lifetime.  A scene from the new documentary, 'Marley,' shows an all-white crowd gathered to watch Marley perform in the US in the late 1970s.  "He had issue with it, because he wanted African-Americans to hear his message," ABC News quoted Ziggy as telling 'Nightline.'  Marley's children, band mates, widow and ex-girlfriends help tell his story in the mammoth documentary covering the legendary artist's humble beginnings in Jamaica and rise to become reggae's first and biggest international superstar.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012 00:00

Alpha Blondy Coming To Jerusalem

Rastaman Alpha Blondy will be bringing his personal ethos of love, hope and peace to the capital as he headlines the Zion Reggae Fest in Sacher Park.  With album and song titles like Jerusalem, Elohim, "Yitzhak Rabin" and Masada, it’s clear that African reggae artist Alpha Blondy has got Israel on his mind. Known as the "Bob Marley of Africa," the Ivory Coast native has been enamored with Israel since visiting the country for the first time in 1985. "I was welcomed like an old friend – I got to visit Jerusalem and Masada, and it touched my heart," said the 58-year-old African rasta from his home in Abidjan last week.

A panel discussion at the Jamaica 50 Jubliee Village inside Independence Park discussing the history of Reggae Music ended the way it began. Among the panellists were former prime minister and record producer Edward Seaga; Dr Dennis Howard, lecturer at The University of the West Indies and former Third World band member and chairperson of Jamaica Reggae Industry Association Michael 'Ibo' Cooper. Seaga gave a lengthy lecture on the developmental process of the local music industry. He shared the view that Jamaican genres were created without prompting.

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