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Live Reggae In Montgomery

  • Written by  Montgomery News

That reggae band that’s been playing at the Blue Dog Pub in Towamencin since October is called Fulljoy.

The name, says guitarist Mark Cosgrove, is a nod to Jamaican patois. “When the Jamaicans say ‘enjoy,’ it sounds like ‘end joy,’ and they don’t want to end joy,” he said.

Cosgrove should know: two of Fulljoy’s primary members — singer and keyboardist Horace “Bassy” Allen and drummer Neville Thomas — come from the musical island.

Something that throws new fans off, Cosgrove said, is that Thomas is blind. “It’s amazing what he can do without sight. It’s funny when people come up to him to shake his hand [and he can’t see them extending their hand],” he said.

Bassist Urijah James hails from the Caribbean island of Antigua and Fulljoy’s other drummer, Mike Shaffer, is a Blue Dog server.

In March the band alternated Saturday nights between the Blue Dog Pub in the Allen Forge Shopping Center at Valley Forge and Allentown roads, and the Blue Dog Family Tavern at County Line Road and Route 202, New Britain.

“It’s something different for Lansdale, but people enjoy it ... or full joy it,” laughed Cosgrove, a West Philadelphia resident.

“Those guys have a great sound,” said Blue Dog general manager Rob Hyde.

Fulljoy’s set blends classic reggae with original songs, and they play it dub reggae style.

“Dub really started out as a [recording] studio thing. The emphasis is on the drums and bass,” he said. The listener is led to pay attention to the different instruments as they drop out of the mix until there is only bass and drums. Then the dropped-out instruments return with effects or variations of some sort.

“The first rap DJs in New York were Jamaican. It was the original remix,” noted Cosgrove, who sometimes mistakenly gets phone calls for a Bucks County flatpicking guitarist who is also named Mark Cosgrove.

Along with 10 other bands, Fulljoy just played at Wall Street International, 1431-39 N. 52nd St., Philadelphia, April 20; now you’ll have to wait till at least May to catch the band around these parts again.

There’s also a “Fulljoy band” Facebook page to stay in touch.

Just because Fulljoy won’t be at the Blue Dog Pub (Towamencin) for a while doesn’t mean the live music there stops. At 9 p.m. Saturdays, there’s been a series of solo acoustic sounds — Mike Meade played April 13, C.J. Gravity played April 20 and Dan Ward will play April 27.

“It’s kind of like when you go down the shore and there’s a guy playing [solo acoustic in a bar],” Hyde said, elaborating that the singers will perform “a cross between modern rock, classic rock and something fun, like shore music.”

Hyde indicated that he’d like to experiment with rotating different reggae bands — all of which are likely to be friends of Shaffer’s — at the Blue Dog because, he explained, different bands mean different set lists and variations on the reggae sound.

An area band known for going down the reggae path, The Mighty Manatees, played the Blue Dog Family Tavern (New Britain) April 13 — with Shaffer sitting in on drums, no less.

Mighty Manatees cofounder, singer and guitarist Will Hodgson said that they refer to Shaffer as “Ras Michael,” after a Jamaican singer who goes by that name.

According to Hodgson, the band leans on the reggae part of its repertoire when it plays outdoors. But with Ras Michael playing with them this weekend, even though they’re indoors, “it’ll probably be a heavy reggae” show, he said, naming covers by Toots & The Maytals, Bob Marley, Ziggy Marley, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, Culture and Black Uhuru that they might play.

Online, at www.themightymanatees.com, the band lists shows it will be playing in the area, including, most recently, performances at Justin’s Carriage House April 12 and another at the Hotel Fiesole April 19, both in Skippack. The band also will be playing every other Thursday night at the Rising Sun Inn, 898 Allentown Road, Franconia Township.

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