Most know Roy “Jemere” Morgan as the young son of Roy “Gramps” Morgan who has toured extensively with Morgan Heritage appearing as a special guest on various shows and festivals worldwide. 2017 is a year of new opportunity for Jemere - the launch of his debut full length album, Transition, and being featured on JBoog’s coast to coast Wash House Ting tour where he also performs along side Jo Mersa Marley; the tour commencing just 6 days after the release of his album.
I had a chance to catch up with Jemere at the soundcheck of their sold out Boston show on Friday, February 3, 2017 to chat about his new album and tour.
Much like his contemporary and fellow tour member Jo Mersa Marley, Jemere is also a third generation artist and was introduced to the music at an early age. Over the last few years, he has been perfecting his craft and working on music for his debut album.
His engaging personality and talent shines through on Transition and allows him the opportunity to carry the Morgan family legacy forward with his new album; Transition debuted on the Reggae Billboard Chart in January at #4 and rose to the #2 slot, an impressive accomplishment for this next gen artist.
Close your eyes for a second, this is a vibe with a message - "Shakers & Movers" Jemere featuring JBoog
Jemere describes the concept of Transition to me as “it’s s a big transition phase…. turning from a kid to a man; it’s a lot of responsibility that I take on now at this chapter of my life.” Transition speaks to many topics that face young adults such as love relationships and life in general all with a conscious message. On how he keeps grounded while facing his new responsibilities, he admits it is to “ just focus on the purpose; the purpose is music and this is what we are here for at the end of the day.”
Some of his best advice naturally comes from his father, Roy “Gramps” Morgan. “Manners and respect we carry to the world, basically to treat people how you want to be treated. Even the album, I got the album done through love, manners and respect for other people and other artists as well. If you live good with them, they will return the favor to you,” said Jemere. This is extremely evident on the quality of the album and the people he worked with to complete the project. The 17 track album showcases Roots Reggae and R&B / Pop infused tracks by various well known producers. International guest artist appearances include his father Gramps Morgan on Try Jah Love and Celebrate Life; Stone Bwoy from Ghana on A.C.B; and Toian on Bang Bang. His hit single Neighborhood Girl gets a fresh new mix featuring Agent Sasco, who he shared with me is one of his favorite Djs. JBoog who has had a long working relationship with the Morgans is featured on Shakers & Movers. Jemere recalls an early memory of JBoog - “ I remember JBoog coming over to my house when I was in school. I think I was in the 9th grade.” And when asked if he ever expected to be on his own tour with JBoog, he added “It’s a huge part of my transition because for the past couple years, everyone that I’ve met is now serving a purpose in my life so that’s why I named it Transition."
Jemere Live in Boston 2/3/17
Jemere kicked off the Boston show with a lively and entertaining set of Reggae / Pop infused material from his new album including International Love, Run Dem Out, Good Ol Roots, Shakers & Movers, Celebrate Life, Anything You Want and Neighborhood Girl. Demonstrating further versatility, he also received a great response when he included a cover of one of Gregory Isaac’s classics, Night Nurse. Surprise guest, Anita Antoinette of Season 7 of The Voice joined Jemere on stage to perform a beautiful acoustic rendition of the Morgan Heritage song Freedom, accompanied by JBoog’s guitarist, Carl Noa.
Jemere’s transition to solo artist is off to a great start and I expect the next phase of his career to flourish given his solid hands on approach with his creative endeavors combined with taking on the proper business responsibility to further his musical journey.
Transition is available on Amazon, iTunes & most digital outlets.
****************View our full conversation below *******************
Empress K video interview with Jemere Morgan - Watch video below (video edited by kingimusic.com)
JBoog / Jo Mersa Marley / Jemere Morgan tour dates 2017
Reggae fans endured several rainy days, almost laughably bad food and a few growing pains on the third edition of the Welcome to Jamrock Cruise. But those who were willing to overlook the glitches were rewarded by a week of almost universally strong full-length sets by artists in a lineup that rivaled that of any land-based reggae festival.
After sell-out sailings in the first two years this year’s cruise saw a switch of both carrier and boats to Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. With nearly double the number of passengers there was far less artists mingling than was reported in prior years and no formal meet-and-greet sessions aside from a Stephen Marley CD signing. Most artists got on the boat, performed, and then deboarded at the next stop.
Perhaps more problematic was the stage setup. While many music cruises hold their concerts in sit-down theaters, Jamrock features an outdoor stage on the top deck. Unfortunately the pool area used for staging was filled with obstructions and offered a very limited space in front of the stage. Strong rain and winds forced the music indoors for three of the five nights, and while the ship’s theater was a comfortable room with good acoustics it also meant that those who didn’t arrive early were standing in awkward spaces straining to see the entertainers.
The first night’s departure was delayed due to luggage loading issues. Among those who didn’t get their bags delivered until late in the evening were Chaka Demus and Pliers, who apologized for their lack of stage attire. Although one of the only cruise acts who weren’t working with their usual band, the duo showed that their combination of Chaka Demus’ wordplay and Pliers’ sweet singing is still a potent one as they offered their 80’s and 90’s hits, a few roots covers, Chaka Demus’ 80’s combination with Admiral Bailey “One Scotch” and an extended “Murder She Wrote” which nicely mixed in the riddim-sharing “What A Bam Bam.”
After what would be just the first of several lengthy band changes the Zinc Fence Band appeared and started their segment with Kelissa who has a powerful voice and plenty of lyrical fire. Chronixx then played a typically tight set that showcased the remarkable number of strong tunes he’s recorded in a relatively short period of time.
There were plenty of hard-partying passengers on board and they ate up the performance by the king of party dancehall, Sean Paul. While in the past I’ve seen shows where Sean Paul had trouble keeping up with his fast-paced hits and his team of dancers, he seemed much more in synch this time.
By the time Toots and the Maytals took the stage the show was running many hours behind and most of the audience had gone back to their cabins. The few who remained were treated to some vintage ska and rocksteady expertly played by many of the same musicians who recorded with Toots in the 60’s and 70’s. The cruise concluded a long year of touring which saw Toots return to the stage for the first time since he was hit by a bottle in 2013. In the interim his voice and gospel-inspired stage presence have only grown stronger.
The late night sound system dances were held in two venues, the main promenade (which felt like attending a dance in an upscale shopping mall hallway) and an intimate lounge. Legendary New York sound Downbeat the Ruler was playing for fewer than a dozen attendees but that didn’t stop Tony Screw from digging into his crates for some choice cuts which were enhanced by special guest Shinehead.
Tuesday afternoon saw reggae-themed exercise and yoga classes and the first daytime sets from Hawaii-bred JBoog and an extremely strong live band set from Shinehead, who utilized Dean Fraser and the Blak Soil Band and a jaw-dropping freestyle rapper named Supernatural who made up rhymes about any object that audience members brought to the stage.
At dinnertime on Tuesday passengers began appearing in some impressive all-white outfits. But a downpour resulted in a last-minute shift to the indoor theater. Although it caused another late start the sound crew did manage the move the entire production down 13 levels quite quickly.
The night started powerfully with Romain Virgo, who brought along a talented band and his large number of recent hits. The Blak Soil Band ably backed Marcia Griffiths who had the audience rocking with her solo hits, the songs she sang with Bob Marley and a giant “Electric Slide.”
With almost no break Tarrus Riley bounded on stage and didn’t let up for nearly two hours. He paid tribute to his recently deceased father Jimmy with “Love and Devotion.” J-Boog showed up for a duet as did Chronixx on “Gimme Likkle One Drop.” But even those exciting moments were no match for a wedding proposal which was offered -- and accepted -- on stage during “She’s Royal.”
Mr. Vegas closed out the night and along with his dancehall favorites added the gospel of “I Am Blessed” and rocksteady covers like “Girl I’ve Got a Date.” The variety was nice although the covers seemed to result in rushed versions of his own hits like “Miss Someone.”
Wednesday morning the boat docked in Montego Bay. Most passengers quickly decamped for the beach, and given the smells on the boat later that night it was clear that MoBay’s weed hustlers were more than aware that 4,000 reggae fans were spending the afternoon in their city. The stop also provided a chance for Jamaican artists with visa woes to board the ship.
Once again rainy skies forced a move to the theater, with the show starting with two artists who actually can tour the US: Assassin aka Agent Sasco and Sanchez. A late-running dinner caused me to miss most of Agent Sasco. Sanchez’s golden voice and classy stage presence worked well in the sit-down theater environment. (The only hit he skipped was “Frenzy,” and it was notable how the anti-gay themes that dominated reggae a few years back were completely absent all week -- minus a single comment from Mighty Crown during the sound clash.)
Whether Jah Cure would even make the boat was the matter of some speculation given his arrest and court appearance in the Bahamas 24 hours prior to his appearance. The charges, which were related to a hotel fight, were dropped, and Cure ended up appearing third rather than closing out the night (one of several unannounced schedule changes which surprised fans). His impassioned set ended with a rousing “Unconditional Love” and proved that if he ever can put his legal woes behind him and earn a US visa he’ll be a top headliner at any reggae event.
The night finished with the two 90’s dancehall giants, Bounty Killer and Beenie Man, each displaying their very different personas. Bounty, who has perhaps mellowed out a bit, pontificated on both political protests and his favorite kinds of gals. The dapper Beenie Man offered one of the most complete performances of the week, drawing from a wide musical palette that included jazz, rock, the soca anthem “Rum & Red Bull” and “Redemption Song” with guest spots from several members of the Marley family. The excellent vibes continued into the night as King Jammy’s sound played the many early dancehall hits that he created.
Thursday saw the ship dock in Ocho Rios, but heavy downpours meant that few were able to do much exploring of the city. In between showers I was able to patronize the Live Food Lifestyle Vegan Corner, where a fresh salad was a welcome respite from the boat’s poorly executed food offerings.
Some of reggae’s finest veterans were waiting to board when the shipped arrived into Ochi. Once again the show was moved inside. Unfortunately, despite a good young band and a great catalogue Half Pint’s opening set found him in poor voice. Hopefully it was just a cold. A large percentage of the passengers were from Bermuda, and they turned out in force for Collie Buddz.
It had been years since I’d seen Steel Pulse and I was delighted to find that David Hinds and co. are now back to using a real horn section. Hinds was one of the few artists who mentioned the election outcome (Buju Banton’s potential release from prison was a more frequent stage patter topic) and their dub-heavy set addressed racial matters head on with songs old (“Taxi Driver”) and new (“Don't Shoot (Hands Up, I Can't Breathe”).
While cruise host Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley was slated to close the evening, it was decided to postpone his appearance a night so he could use the outdoor stage. That meant an earlier start for the sound clash. The ship’s skating rink turned out to be a perfect clash setting thanks to its open floor and a vibe that called to mind the many reggae dances held at Brooklyn’s now-defunct Empire Rolling Rink.
The clash pitted defending champs Mighty Crown against three other competing sounds: Tony Matterhorn, Fire Links and King Turbo. It quickly became apparent that while the other sounds were mostly playing their usual dubplates or even just 45s, Mighty Crown had been busy recording a special cruise-related dub plate by every performer who had been on the ship. A massive forward greeted a plate by Bunji Garlin in which he reworked “Differentology” to boast about how when Mighty Crown would meet the other sounds “we throw them overboard.” The other sounds quickly crumbled while the Japanese sound picked up yet another trophy.
Speaking of Bunji, he opened the final day with a daytime soca set that revealed his strong freestyling abilities.
With Jr. Gong’s set moved, a new schedule was made up which was only partially publicized. (The ship’s in-house reggae radio station mentioned the change but the PA system announcements gave the old times even as the show was about to start.) That meant that some were unaware that Kabaka Pyramid was starting the night several hours ahead of the printed time. Those who caught wind of the change saw a powerful performance full of his own politically charged material as well as a medley of 90’s cultural deejays like Sizzla and Capleton and an MC battle with a band member.
Once word of the early start spread a larger crowd was on hand for Junior Reid, who deftly mixed hip-hop with conscious roots and some Black Uhuru classics. Mavado’s long set show was popular but failed to include the variety his dancehall peers had offered earlier in the week.
Stephen “Ragga” Marley took things down a notch with a laid-back ska and soul-inflected set that included both his new tracks and some rarely performed selections by his father including “Selassie is the Chapel.”
That left it to Jr. Gong to finish the night before the largest crowd of the week with his usual hit-packed set plus his new “Nail Pon Cross.” Special treats included his young son singing Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” a cameo from Dean Fraser and the reappearance of Ragga on “Book of Life” and “Could You Be Loved?”.
While the ship was due back in Florida early the next morning a few hardy souls stayed up for one last taste of Shinehead, this time spinning essential rub-a-dub vinyl rarities with his Kingston 12 sound system cohort DJ Papalotl.
Cabins are on currently on sale for the 4th annual Welcome to Jamrock Reggae Cruise 2017 which sets sail November 13 – 18, 2017 onboard the Royal Caribbean Independence of The Seas. This year presents another outstanding Reggae and Dancehall line-up including Damian "Jr Gong" Marley, Stephen "Ragga" Marley, Sizzla, Jah Cure, Luciano, Freddie McGregor, Stephen McGregor, Chino McGregor, Bounty Killer, Tarrus Riley, Cocoa Tea, Busy Signal, Popcaan, Inner Circle, Richie Spice, Tanto Metro & Devonte, Pressure, Spice, Raging Fyah, and Iba Mahr. Sound Systems include: Stone Love, Renaissance Sound, Mighty Crown, Tony Matterhorn, Kingston 12 HI Fi and more to be announced!
Article by Empress K Reggae Reflection and photos by Melvin Calender
In November of 2015, Raging Fyah, the five-piece band from Kingston, Jamaica was signed to the new Dub Rockers label under the VP Records umbrella. Band members Kumar Bent (lead singer), Courtland White (guitarist) Anthony Watson (drummer), Demar Gayle (keyboardist and musical director) and Delroy “Pele” Hamilton (bassist) continued to make significant strides in 2016. In May they released their third studio album "Everlasting," which debuted at #2 on the billboard chart. In support of their new album, Raging Fyah toured extensively throughout the US and Europe with bands such as Stick Figure, Fortunate Youth and Protoje.
The year ended on an even higher note with the announcement of Raging Fyah's 2017 US Winter Tour with Tribal Seeds as well as a European Tour in the Spring with UB40. Exciting news soon followed with a grammy nod for Best Reggae Album for "Everlasting," their debut album with the Dub Rockers label. While many people may consider them to be a new band that has seen rapid growth over the last two years, in reality Raging Fyah has been working tirelessly for nearly a decade to earn these well deserved accolades.
Press Conference at VP Records
VP Records Press Release
For immediate Release
January 9, 2016
2017 GRAMMY® AWARD NOMINEES
RAGING FYAH KICK OFF THEIR WORLD TOUR IN JANUARY
Billboard Critic's 2016 Best Reggae Albums Chose Raging Fyah's Everlasting
"...the album is an all-killer no-filler affair, straight-ahead roots rock from top to toe." -BILLBOARD
Raging Fyah will kick off their 2017 World Tour with Tribal Seeds in the United States on Jan 24th and then with UB40 in Europe in May. See dates below and on http://www.ragingfyah.com. The 5-piece rising Jamaican band is touring in support of their latest album Everlasting, which is nominated for a 2017 Grammys® Award for Best Reggae Album. This is their first nod for the prestigious ceremony. The 59th Annual Grammys® will air live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 12th, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET. on CBS.
Everlasting, released in May 2016, follows their previous releases Judgement Day (2011) and Destiny (2014) and is their debut effort for VP Records' new imprint Dub Rockers.
Photos: Yellowman & Kreema at BB King NYC 11/7/16
Photos by Melvin Calender for ReggaeReflection
11/7/16 - It's been a couple years since King Yellow Man has graced the stage at BB King Blues Club in NYC. As expected, fans experienced a fast-paced high energy show. Fans were also treated to performances by King Yellowman's daughter Kreema and opening act Arita from Trinidad and Tobago. Check out our gallery of photos below.
Backstage Moments (click on first image to start gallery view)
Photos and Review: Black Uhuru at BB King NYC
Report by Grace Vanriel & Photos by Melvin Calender for Reggae Reflection
It's almost painfully true, Black Uhuru doesn’t get to the New York City area often but on the occasion of September 22, 2016 the legendary Roots rockers band were the featured act at B.B. King in Times Square. And leaving absolutely no room for disappointment, they drew from their magnificent catalog of hit songs. Featured on stage that night was original Black Uhuru member Derrick “Duckie” Simpson who knows the music inside-out upside-down, upheld the critical vibes that kept the audience rocking while never missing a beat; lead singer Andrew Bees who has the voice of an angel gifted by Jah showered the audience with a magnificent flood of sound that had us floating towards the heavens.
That night we also experienced Frank Stepanek on guitar and special guest King Hopeton making for an soul-stimulating/foot tapping night of pure Reggae music tailored from its inception, especially for Roots and Culture loving audiences.
In typical Reggae style the audience swelled as the evening progressed which is unfortunate if they missed the early warm opening act, a young lady by the name of Onesty whose name should be remembered. Currently on tour with Black Uhuru, the Reggae songstress had a captivating flow and did an amazing job as she gently lead an anxious audience eager for the main act, right into the palm of her hands. A true singer with a beautiful voice, Onesty belted out several selections intermittently chatting lightly in-between songs bringing focus to her message. Her set totally complemented what was to come and in appreciation, the audience responded with passionate applause.
When the Reggae category was finally introduced to the Grammy Awards in 1985 (at the the time entitled the “Grammy Award for Best Reggae Recording” given for songs and albums), Black Uhuru was the first band to win for the “Anthem” album. As a high-caliber musical act, devoted Reggae fans like me expect to hear an array of their timeless classics and, we all did. Based solely on the noise level barometer of whistles and cheers, the crowd favorite for the night was the song Sinsemilla. From their Grammy winning album we also thoroughly enjoyed one of the best known songs and guaranteed crowd-pleaser,“Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (Natty Dreadlocks).” Interestingly the song was originally released in 1979 on the Black Uhuru album entitled “Showcase” followed a year later by a second reissuing (1980), this time calling the album “Black Uhuru” (the only difference between the first and second releases being the addition of one song); identical to the previous album, the third and final album reissuing took place in 1983 called “Guess Who's Coming to Dinner” using the name of what can now be considered the album’s title song. Trivia aside, their performance was welcomed by the BB King crowd signaling that audiences recognize and shower their appreciation on strong lyrics they can relate to.
Other musical highlights that had the audience moving and grooving on the dance floor throughout the evening were “System” and “Solidarity” and a sprinkling throughout the evening of songs from Black Uhuru's Grammy Award winning album entitled “Anthem” from which they sang “What is Life”, “Party Next Door”, “Black Uhuru Anthem” and “Bull in the Pen” among many other incredible songs well performed and received.
From the opening act kicked off by Onesty to Black Uhuru as the featured act, the concert was a exciting night of great entertainment clearly enjoyed by all in attendance. Hopefully they will return to the NYC area more often than they have in the past and when they do, our team will once again be up front and ready to adsorb the solid positive vibes.
Behind the Scenes
Trading Photos Interview with Andrew Bees and Duckie Simpson
Grace Vanriel is the founder and CEO of the Live Reggae NYC network and co-founder of The Reggaeholics Movement to preserve and promote Reggae music as a traditional Jamaican art form; she is a freelance writer for Where Itz At Magazine, Senior Correspondent for ReggaeReflection.com, CatchTheVybe.com, and BuildUrBuzz.com.
Melvin Calendar is a freelance photographer based in NYC covering a wide variety of Caribbean shows and festivals in the NYC region.
Photos by Melvin Calender for Reggae Reflection.
Konshens Fans in Costume (click on first photo to start gallery)
Photos: #Conversations Acoustic performance with Ky-Mani Marley and Gentleman at Apple Brooklyn 11/5/16
Photos by Melvin Calender for Reggae Reflection
11/5/16 The Apple store in Williamsburg had its grand launch in July celebrating the opening of the first-ever Apple Store in Brooklyn. On Friday evening, it played host to a different type of event as fans enjoyed an up-close and personal encounter with Gentleman and Ky-Mani Marley. Pat McKay of Sirius XM Radio was on hand to host a live interview followed by an intimate acoustic performance by Gentleman and Ky-mani Marley, highlighting selections from their joint collaboration, Conversations, an 18 track cd released earlier this summer.
Meet & Greet
Conversations on Itunes
Gentleman & Ky-Mani Marley - Signs of the Times Official Video
Everything Irie at the Irie Jam Radio 23rd Anniversary 2016 Celebration
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
As anticipated, the much talked about Irie Jam Radio 23rd Anniversary Celebration on September 4, 2016 went down in history as the first New York area event featuring "The Return Of Sizzla" staged at Roy Wilkins Park in Queens, NY. The concert hosted by the popular radio network that features Caribbean music, news and talk on WVIP 93.5FM was well orchestrated with the majority of featured artists on hand and additional surprise celebrity guests that successfully offset the absence of the two dancehall artists who did not take the stage.
Starting from the beginning, Irie Jam Radio must have a magic hotline to heaven because leading up to the event weather reports predicted a hurricane proportion storm; however, the bad weather never materialized. In fact, not one drop of rain fell from the skies and the day was mostly hot leaving attendees to sizzle, with excitement. Chatting with several attendees at the show early in the day, I learned that poor weather reports played a significant factor in deciding whether or not they would attend the celebration and subsequently, their arrival time to the day’s event was evidenced by the line for last minute ticket buyers that swelled into the late afternoon. Luckily for attendees the lines moved swiftly and by 5 PM Roy Wilkins Park filled. And, from what I could actually see from the limited media assigned vantage point but clearly hear, all the artists that took the stage did an excellent job at entertaining an audience whose whoops and cheers signified genuine excitement.
Short and sweet among the early warm artists that our cameras caught up with were BillyBoy The Jamaican Cowboy, Ky-enie, Khago, Bella Blair, Martina Startina, Tanto Blacks and KConeil along with his trio of dancers. We also caught up with and totally enjoyed performances by Lady Ann, Beniton, the Voicemail duo and Khago (who by the way did an amazing job performing four songs opening with Tun Up and closing out with ‘Hay, Hay,Hay’). Lion Melta was on hand early and later in the show for a cameo appearance with Sizzla.
EARLY WARM FIRE STARTERS (click on each photo to enlarge)
THE FIRE SEGMENT
The announcement of the Fire Segment (so named by the producers) kicked off at 5:30 with the Titanium Band. As that section of the program progressed it made for a lively afternoon of great conscious music that continually grew in excitement! The first artist up was Jahmiel who I found very appealing although his set was a bit too short leaving me feeling that I'd like to hear a full performance of his music and see more of him on stage before deciding exactly what I liked best about his performance. One thing for sure, I heard excellent content filled lyrics that captured my attention making him someone that everyone should have on their listening radar.
As expected other audience favorites who brought fire to the stage were I-Wayne who was excellent as was Anthony B, Richie Spice and Bugle. Taken individually, I-Wayne who is well-known and loved by NY audiences wore a jacket trimmed in red, gold and green that are widely recognized colors of the flag of Ethiopia and the Rastafari culture. Throughout his almost forty-minute performance he was in wonderful voice that clearly resounded throughout the park enveloping the audience with a message that he sang from his heart, directly to us; the sum total of his performance had the effect of reinforcing feelings of spiritual upliftment and increasing one's’ consciousness complemented by beautiful music. While all of his musical selections went off exceedingly well I-Wayne truly captured the audience with his song, “Can’t Satisfy Her.”
Although last year he performed on Irie Jam Radio's 22nd anniversary we don't get to see Reggae artist Bugle as a featured artist nearly often enough in the NYC area. He was amazing and came ready to rock conscious music and share a thought provoking message to the people both of which he succeeded in doing splendidly. Bugle is well known for fiery songs with heart piercing lyrics just about everyone can relate to like “What I’m Gonna Do,” “Anointed” and “Rasta Party.” As fans undoubtedly await the release of the latest great music from Bugle, one can only hope that his new releases garners more stage time in the NYC area too.
AN IRIE CROWD (click on first photo to start gallery)
Finally having no choice but to make my way into the elbow room crowd for a clearer view of the stage, I'd say that one of my favorite artists of the day was Richie Spice who gave a super-incredible performance to an audience that showed their agreement with thunderous applause. In terms of music and lyrics it's safe to say that Richie Spice is always on point musically although there have been times when I've found his on-stage performance a bit laid back. At the Irie Jam Radio celebration that was absolutely not the case as he brought his outstanding body of music along with loads and loads of energy to the stage.
Anthony B who is also popular on the NY Reggae circuit opened up with his version of Bob Marley's “Redemption Song” which was in a word, marvelous. Soon thereafter he sang two songs that had the audience cheerfully singing along namely, “Raid The Barn” and “Good Cop Bad Cop.” Anthony B's set was by comparison to some of the others of respectable duration which, at least by me, was greatly appreciated.
While the band change for Sizzla was in process, surprise guest appearances were made by top artists Shaggy, Christopher Martin, Tanto Blacks and Gully Bop that were short but certainly spiced up the day’s atmosphere with loud cheers backed by applause. And while for reasons still officially unknown at this writing, Mr Vegas and Elephant Man did not appear; however, the strong lineup that included all those great celebrity guests significantly eased the reality of their absence.
Finally, the moment everyone had been waiting for and it was a spiffy looking Sizzla in a stylish dark suit topped off with a yellow carnation who took the stage kicking off a high-energy performance from start to an end that lasted a solid fifty-minutes. After eight years off the US circuit the brethren backed by the talented Gumption Band (currently accompanying him on his US tour) immediately connected with the audience and never missed a beat. Sizzla sang many of the songs we've come to love and kept the audience on their toes signing and dancing. His performance was the perfect end to a wonderful day in every regard. Congratulations to Irie Jam Radio for 23-years in the business and for yet another successful presentation.
Editors Note: Media access restrictions for many of the photographers, videographers and correspondents covering the show was an unexpected challenge and worth mentioning because it seriously affected the type of full professional coverage that Reggae Reflection and fellow journalists seek to provide to readers and followers.
This time our media passes did not allow for unencumbered front stage access leaving most on the outskirts of the VIP area or in back of the stage. Media passes also did not allow us to enter the artist area. While a handful of photographers and videographers including us were eventually allowed front stage access, it was not clear if there were additional access restrictions such as re-entering that area (which is important in going backstage in-between sets to speak with and photograph artists). As a result we remained in one area for the entire event and our correspondent and many others were relegated to the back of the stage although not to the area where artists were located. Therefore, absent from our coverage is the characteristic backstage photo highlights and artist soundbites. While a media tent was set up it was on the exact opposite end of artist area and mostly remained unvisited for photos or interviews.
Generally speaking, earlier this year improvements to at least one other NYC festival better integrated media personnel with performing artists in order to provide more complete coverage that included options for brief interviews and photo opportunities whenever possible. By sharing this constructive feedback, we are confident that organizers will take suggestions into account as they plan their next events.
The 22nd staging of The People’s Festival was held Saturday, July 30th, 2016 along the Christina River at Tubman Garrett Park in Wilmington, Delaware. Despite the scattered showers throughout the latter half of the day, many patrons celebrated in their tents, under their umbrellas or just danced in the rain until the last performance. The festival is an annual family friendly celebration to preserve and honor the legacy of Bob Marley.
The People’s festival was nicely organized and included free parking available in a nearby lot for patrons. Upon entering, the road to the left was made into a shopping lane with several vendors. The vendors were selling everything from reggae apparel, oils, incence, jewelry and art. Dash of Sol had some paintings for sale as well as several remarkable pieces created with canvas and duct tape. I fell in love with the bindis, tribal necklaces and headwraps that Nishkami had for sale in their beautifully decorated booth.
To the right was a lot full of several international food vendors with something for everyone including all types of food, snacks, cakes and beverages to choose from. One of my favorites was the coconut and sugar cane vendor. I’m always reminded of a tropical vacation after watching a coconut cut open, then enjoying the fresh coconut water.
The festival had a diverse line-up of many acts including Banda La Union De Mexico, The Limits, Universal Funk Order, Brixton Saint, Spokey Speaky, The Kooligans and Richard Raw. The crowd was in for a treat before Quinto Sol began their performance. As the Aztec dancers entered the general admission area in front of the stage wearing colorful, beaded and feathered costumes everyone moved closer to get a better view of what was about to happen. The drummer provided the rhythm and they went on to perform a beautiful dance for the crowd. Quinto Sol then went on to perform in both Spanish and English. Alika who is also known for her Spanish reggae was next to hit the stage to get everyone moving.
Mykal Rose was up next, and he took the crowd to Jamaica as he delivered a high energy performance singing and engaging the crowd. The rain began to fall again as Dumpstaphunk hit the stage but as soon as the crowd heard the funky rhythm they were up dancing to the beat.
The rain was back but the section in front of the stage got thick with patrons trying to get a good spot before the headlining act, Ky-Mani Marley, even entered the stage. During Ky-Mani's hour-long set, he performed several of his hits such as Concrete Jungle, New Heights, Hustler, Get High, Keepers of the Light, and Rasta Man. Ky-Mani paid tribute to his father Bob Marley performing several classics including Jammin’, Iron Lion Zion and Is This Love.
The lights on stage shut off and it set the mood as supporting vocalist Yendi Songbird joined Ky-Mani to perform Turn Your Lights Down Low. Ky-Mani went on to close his set letting the crowd know he was told he could only perform one more song, before singing Bob Marley’s Redemption Song.
At the close of the show; hosts, organizers and co-founder of the People’s Festival, Genny Pitts, came on stage and thanked everyone for coming and sticking it out through the rain. The crowed chanted Ky-Mani after being asked if they wanted more Ky-Mani Marley. Ky-mani joined them on stage and closed the show performing the song People's Festival closes with every year, One Love!
Press Play below to enjoy more photos from the 22nd Annual People's Festival
Bigger and Better than Ever
The show than moved onto the main acts beginning with Grenadian soca artist Skinny Banton who got the crowd moving.
Half Pint then followed and had the crowd singing along to his classic reggae hits.
Next up was Demarco who got the crowd hype. In addition to his singing he entertained the crowd with his dance moves and finished by bringing some ladies on stage for a wining contest.
Destra shut DMV Summerfest down. Destra is definitely known as the Queen of Bacchanal for a reason. Before she entered the stage, she spoke to the crowd through her microphone and her voice alone had the crowd rushing to the front of the stage. Destra mentioned how even with her segment being short on time she wanted to make sure she interacted her fans. It was amazing to see her literally move the entire crowd right to left, wave their flags, wine and jump up and down as she sang her carnival hits, closing out the innaugural DMV Summer Fest in grand carnival style.
View More Photos from the Show below
Released at the end of May, Everlasting is undoubtedly the crowning jewel of the band’s career so far. Recorded live at Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, it is the first LP of a multi-album deal recently signed with Dub Rockers, a modern reggae-focused, California based sub-division of VP Records.
The central theme of Everlasting is its unifying vision. This is wholesome, ital food for roots reggae fans worldwide, and it carves a mark for the band on the tree of timeless, ever-inspiring musicianship.
Holding a vibe with Boston, MA, and South Kingstown, RI
Boston was only the second stop on this 19-city trod, and at thirty minutes to showtime, band members roamed the venue floor, filled only to an estimated twenty percent capacity. The energy in the room was relaxed, as the audience floated between middle and back of the venue. Keyboardist Spyda was first to take the stage, pacing his corner, occasionally sipping from a plastic cup, telling of his energy building to deliver for the night. Bassy Pele, keyboardist Demz, lead guitarist Courtland ‘Gizmo’ White, drummer Shawn P. (substituting for original member Anthony Watson), and singer Kumar strolled to the stage so casually, most in the audience missed it. As the shadowy recording played in dimmed lights, band members swayed their bodies into gear.
With performances like these, planting seeds of genuine upfulness and unity, expect Raging Fyah to grace more - and bigger - stages and airwaves worldwide. Catch them on this Everlasting Tour - it’s a cyaan miss, massive.
Raging Fyah Boston Photo Slideshow
Raging Fyah Video Highlights in Boston
commenced the Fruit of Life Summer Tour on May 26th in Redway, CA. The two month tour has stops in 44 cities in support of his upcoming album, Revelation Pt. II, The Fruit of Life (releasing 7/22) - the sequel to his Grammy award winning album, Revelation Pt. I, The Root of Life released in 2011.
Anticipation of his long-awaited new album and supporting tour has been mounting since the coast-to-coast tour dates were announced late spring. Last summer, history was made as Stephen Marley collaborated with Damian Marley, Tarrus Riley, and Morgan Heritage on the very successful Catch a Fire Tour bringing Reggae music into several new markets.
The Portland, Maine show held on 6/27 had a smaller yet extremely enthusiastic crowd that fully enjoyed a night of quality Reggae music at the State Theatre, a historic venue in the heart of downtown Portland. For the 6/30 Boston show, Stephen not unexpectedly performed for a sold-out audience at the Paradise Rock Club where he had last performed a solo show in 2014.
The first set of the evening showcased band member solos, starting with the smooth saxophone sounds of Nicholas Laraque, the band’s saxophonist / flautist for the past several years.
Lead guitarist Ranoy Gordon was up next, performing his recent release Best Friend, followed by supporting vocalist Rochelle Bradshaw performing her single, Works Must Be Done.
David "Big Papi" Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox takes a moment to meet Stephen Marley backstage in Boston.
Pre-order Revelation Pt. II: "The Fruit of Life" (avail 7/22)
Press play below to view all photos from Boston and Maine shows
Tempo Turns Ten and Turns up the Heat at Caribbean Week in NYC
Live Performances at Caribbean Rocks
Up next was a high-energy artist from Turks and Caicos called Tess who was backed by a riveting group of entertaining dancers. I also thoroughly enjoyed the Spank Band from Bahamas but must admit that I was floored by the presence of calypso singer and songwriter of international fame, the Mighty Sparrow (oftentimes referred to as the “Calypso King of the World” and rightfully so). Sparrow made his way to the stage slowly but none-the-less giving us a top-notch vocal performance.
As the evening progressed the audience was treated to a large troupe of talented dancers called the Colors Junkanoo. Completely outfitted in ultra-colorful/larger than life costumes they excited attendees right out of their seats surrounding them on the dance floor to cheer them as they made their way throughout the venue.
Among the most anticipated acts of the evening were Jamaican artists Ce'cile and Romain Virgo who both gave spectacular performances that sizzled by way of musical selections and sheer stage charisma. And, I would be woefully remiss for not mentioning other stellar performances well presented by artists Loyal Flames (who joined Romain Virgo on stage), R. City, Ziggy Ranking, Isaac Blackman, RKG Dartiste and Shurwayne Winchester.
And just as important as the sensational musical performances and dancing were, there were also excellent
Meanwhile behind the scenes, Chef Patrick worked his culinary magic flooding attendees throughout the venue with delicious Caribbean delicacies in generous portions.
In recognition of their considerable achievements TEMPO presented several awards during the course of the evening.
In recognition of his life work, a posthumous Achievement Award was bestowed to the late Bahamian artist Johnny Kemp who died accidentally in April 2015 at age fifty-five. Kemp is best known for his 1989 Grammy nominated song “Just Got Paid” in the category of Best R&B Song. The presentation honoring Kemp was made to his wife Diedre Kemp who was joined onstage by their sons. Her short acceptance speech was filled with emotion and she graciously expressed her deep appreciation for the recognition of her late husband.
The Chairman’s Award was given to Abu Alam, Chief Financial Officer of TEMPO in recognition of eight years of outstanding service to TEMPO. East Indian in heritage, his acceptance speech brought warm cheers as he basically explained how much he loves and embraces the Caribbean and considers himself an honorary member.
Dr. Una Clarke received the Pioneer Award. Looking absolutely smashing, the former NYC Council Member held her first office in 1991 and for a decade represented the 40th Council District in Brooklyn NY. For those who don't know, Dr Clarke holds the distinction of being the first Caribbean woman to serve in the City Legislature. Dr. Clarke was joined onstage by her children: television producer Leslie Clarke Jr and his wife, and daughter Congresswoman Yvette Clarke who following her mother was encouraged to offer a few words of inspiration which she did extremely well while mentioning the importance of voting and supporting networks like TEMPO.
Immediately following his stage performance TEMPO bestowed the Icon Award to Grenadian born 40-year veteran artist Mighty Sparrow “ The Birdie” who turns 81-years of age this year on July 9th. This adds to his treasure chest of awards and honors including the Chaconia Medal Award (1993), an Honorary PhD from the University of the West Indies and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the government of Trinidad & Tobago in 2013 where his family relocated to when he was age one and where he currently claims residency.
It was a complete surprise to him and clearly a humbling moment when the final award presented for the evening called the Spirit of Marcus Garvey Award was presented to TEMPO's Founder and CEO Frederick Morton Jr. Needless to say there was nary a dry house in the house when he finished making a short but heartfelt speech bearing his love and continued commitment to the TEMPO organization, thanks and appreciation.
Viewership currently exceeds 3 million viewers throughout the Caribbean and countless others throughout the NYC area via Cablevision. In a recent strategic business move, TEMPO completed negotiations to launch throughout the United State via Verizon FiOs giving them the potential to reach and additional 5 million subscribers who utilize the service on cable or through its mobile applications. Dedicated programming includes shows like: Cross Caribbean Countdown, Cook Up, Rise & Shine (Myles Munroe), Rise & Shine (Jamie Thomas), Badness Outta Style, Tempo Presents, Ocean Style, CANTO Exhibition and TEMPO Sports. Special events listed on their lineup includes popular events like the St. Kitts Music Festival , Miami Carnival and the NY West Indian Day Parade.
Special events come and go however I predict that in years to come Caribbean Rocks NYC will undoubtedly increase in popularity and hopefully pave the way for similar events to follow, at destinations across the globe. Over the course of the next three months Caribbean Rocks NYC – TEMPO Turns Ten plans to telecast the program across TEMPO’s cable television distribution network. Clearly on a mission to highlight the breadth and scope of Caribbean culture to the world, TEMPO passionately states on their website: “Caribbean people are extraordinary. We have made significant contributions to the world, and it is time those contributions be recognized.” I totally agree and advise that you follow TEMPO on all social networks and sign up for their mailing lists. Subscribe to their channel in your area and if it's not yet there, contact your local cable provider and don't just ask for it, demand it and then encourage your friends to do the same!
Melvin Calendar is a freelance photographer based in NYC covering a wide variety of Caribbean shows and festivals in the NYC region.
#SunfestFL 2016 Rick Springfield Photos & Review
Love Is All Right Today
Even though he compared playing mid-afternoon to “f_ _ king under fluorescent light”, Rick’s performance in the hot South Florida sun delivered. Familiar smashes like “I’ve Done Everything For You” and “Affair of the Heart” were featured on a set-list that also included a massive medley of songs such as “Bop Till You Drop”, ”Celebrate Youth”, ”Don’t Walk Away”, ”State of the Heart”, ”What Kind of Fool Am I”, ”Love Is All Right Tonight”, even a bit of his signature hit “Jessie’s Girl.”
Rick also played a couple of surprising covers. After saying he was going to play a “girl’s song” but he was going to make it more rockish, Rick launched into a cover of Katy Perry’s “Roar.” Some of the concertgoers I talked to afterwards wondered why he would cover such a song but I thought he probably did so as a way to be relevant to younger music fans. I later heard from my friend Gail, a prominent member of the local contingent of Rick’s Chicks, that he also covered Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.”
Longtime Rick Springfield fans enjoying a moment before the show!
SALT n PEPA
Pick up Those Hips!
Backing the two vocalists was their longtime DJ Spinderella, and contributing to the upbeat atmosphere was the presence of two muscular and energetic male dancers, doing routines by themselves and also with Salt ‘n’ Pepa. Some of these dance routines took place on the catwalk jutting out into the audience, enabling the fans to get a good look at the group’s dance moves.
Overall, the vibe was very fun, with all three women smiling a lot, and Salt ’n’ Pepa chatting extensively with the audience.
Fans at the Ford Stage enjoying an afternoon of Hip Hop and Soul
Surprise After Surprise, Oracabessa Festival 2016!
DELCITA'S BORDER PATROL
Around 5PM in a segment of the Festival I call the “inspirational ” Pastor Son took the stage sharing a few songs determined to uplift our spirits. Closely following his performance the one and only Natalie Evans, who is one of the original Grace Thrillers gave a dynamic performance. Evans is known to have a beautiful voice, and I felt good just listening to her. Fully prepped by Evens uplifting performance and ready for more inspirational music, the audience was not disappointed in performances by Gospel artists Kukudoo, and Little LeRoy both giving hardy performances. Special guest MC Ragashanti was up to his usual stage antics bringing his fiery humor to the stage.
Afterward came Kiprich for a short but high-energy set with my personal favorite from his performance being “Let Go Ya Belly.” Now if Delcita's play was not enough of a shocking surprise, when surprise guest artist Gully Bop popped up on stage the audience became unhinged! A woman sitting behind me had been loudly calling out Gully's name wishfully all afternoon and when he made his entrance I turned just in time to see her face light up as she jumped up to scream. Gully's presence was unquestionably another Irie Jam, let's see your faces now, surprise moment.
The next segment of Oracabessa Festival went full circle when artist Barbie, well known for being a hot artist, took the stage and did indeed spice up the evening. Flashing ultra-bright green hair (with fingernails to match) it was a clear signal it was Dancehall entertainment time. After her opening song she offered a loving shout-out to the legendary Sister Nancy Barbie before launching into the song “Turn Me Up.” Barbie looked and sounded great and left no doubt that she can sing and dance equally hard.
Somewhere in-between setting up for the next act Irie Jam squeezed in another up and coming artist by the name of 3 Star who in honor of Memorial Day, is also a military man. Decked in camouflage fatigues head to toe he belted out one song but his token performance was also warmly welcomed.
Caribbean Heritage Awards
New Kid took the stage for another brief set that opened the door for one of the most respected names in Reggae Ken Boothe (aka Mr. Smooth and looking just that from head to toe). Let me just say that as expected his entire performance lasting thirty-minutes was outstanding; the audience pretty much sang to every song he selected, and based on the way he fully moved about on stage, that man in no way appears to be increasing in age. He shared with the audience his philosophy as it relates to his music stating: “songs live forever, people don't.” Along that theme Ken Boothe's rendition of the Nat King Cole song, “When I Fall In Love” Reggae style was without doubt one of my favorite songs of the entire event.
Oracabessa Festival Fans in the moment!
The final act of the day was to have been Nesbeth but more on what happened next in a minute. Meanwhile, an on-stage Nesbeth still clearly grieving the recent loss of his beloved wife Annmarie dedicated a song to her before his segue to “My Dream,” a song that he was honored to sing at the swearing-in ceremonies for Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
All-in-all Oracabessa Festival 2016 was a success. Irie Jam Productions is a professional team with a great reputation for delivering what they promise so no surprises there. What was surprising are the great lengths they undertook to outdo themselves in 2016 by introducing so many extras. Most everyone loves getting more than they pay for and attendees were given plenty. I left Roy Wilkins Park elated that the producers had put a lot of painstaking time and energy into figuring out how to delight ticket holders, and caring enough to do so. As always, ticket prices were affordable with special low rates beginning at $25 for early bird purchases and increasing slightly with the approach of the event. Hats off to all the fabulous vendors and of course to loyal and supporters like sponsors People Choice Furniture, Golden Krust, the Real Estate Authority (who donated and raffled both a TV and radio), WIADCA, Signature 78 Fashion, Moving Forward and Irwine Clare and Team Bickle Jamaica for continually supporting a high-quality and well produced event. Jah willing, we all have the 2017 presentation to look forward to with eager anticipation!
Enjoy more photos from Oracabessa Music Festival 2016 in our slideshow below.
Melvin Calendar is a freelance photographer based in NYC covering a wide variety of Caribbean shows and festivals in the NYC region.
#SunfestFL 2016 Day 3 (The Joy Formidable, Death Cab for Cutie, Watch The Duck)
The Joy Formidable - Welsh Girl Power
But the other songs Ritzy sang into her microphone adorned with a mass of light-bulb strings were just as appealing. Standouts include the percussive rocker “The Last Thing on My Mind” and the introspective ballad “Liana”, both from the group’s latest release, the 2016 album “Hitch.” The short set also featured material from older albums, such as “Little Blimp” from 2013’s “Wolf’s Law.”
Despite getting noisier as it went along, this power trio’s set was surprisingly melodic overall, and definitely worth seeing.
Joy Formidable Fans at the JetBlue Stage
Death Cab for Cutie - The Ghosts of Flagler Drive
Ben’s makeover might be for the best, though, given how energetic the band’s stage show is. When not singing, Gibbard would run around the stage engaging in guitar duets with his band-mates. Songs like “Crooked Teeth” and “The New Year” are filled with guitars, so both touring members Dave Depper and Zac Rae play guitar in addition to keyboards.
The two-song encore consisted of “Marching Band from Manhattan” from its popular 2005 release Plans, and “Transatlanticism” , the title track of the group’s 2003 release. This was played solo by Gibbard, who abandoned his guitars to sit behind the piano to perform this ballad.
Watch The Duck - Don't fear the Duck
“Everyone sees the Duck traveling smoothly on top of the water, but no one sees how hard he’s kicking under it to stay afloat.” Watch the Duck, describing how the band was named.
Best of the Best 2016 began with several DJs playing music and engaging the crowd as the park began to fill with patrons waiting for the show to begin. Performers Patrice Roberts, Destra and Denise Belfon began the line up for Best of the Best, by getting the crowd to jump up and wine to soca music. Little John than hit the stage as the show transitioned to reggae music. Lady G came out and got the crowd moving to hits like Nuff Respect. Half Pint than took the crowd back with hits like Substitute Lover and Just Be Good To Me. Dancehall artist Vershon changed the tempo when he came out to perform at Best of The Best. Next, Kranium made his entrance dressed in all black and bright blue sneakers.
Tarrus Riley ran on stage in a jean jacket over his all white attire ready to give the crowd a high energy performance. Singy Singy had the crowd jumping up and down along with him. Saxophonist Dean Fraser walked forward and serenaded the crowd with several soulful solos during Tarrus Riley’s segment.
Cham - Lawless Energy
Next to hit the stage was Mr. Vegas. He made sure the crowd knew the importance of supporting real dancehall music. He also expressed the importance of respecting all of reggae’s legends. Mr. Vegas went on to perform several tribute songs for the audience. He invited a couple on stage for a surprise marriage proposal midway into his performance. It was definitely a moment that will be remembered and treasured by the bride to be. Mr. Vegas’s was full of so much energy he ended up having to take off his shirt. For those who were not present during the beginning of the music festival he represented for the soca lovers and had the crowd jumping up and whining to several soca hits.
Elephant Man closes the show
View the slideshow below for more Best of The Best photos
LunchMoney Lewis & Jason Derulo at Sunfest
4/28/16 - On Thursday night, the Tire Kingdom Stage belonged to South Florida Natives Lunch Money Lewis and Jason Derulo. While their styles are quite different, their backgrounds are similar in that both started out their careers writing hit songs for other top artists before embarking on their own successful solo careers. And they have one more thing in common: both have a Caribbean connection via their parents. LunchMoney Lewis is the son of Ian Lewis and nephew of Roger Lewis who are founding members of the popular Jamaican Reggae band Inner Circle, and Jason’s family is of Haitian descent.
There was no mistaking LunchMoney Lewis as he confidently walked on stage sporting a comfy robe in reference to what he wears in his humorous video, “Bills.”
You can also hear LunchMoney Lewis on the recent self-empowering collaboration “ I Love Me” with Meghan Trainor on her just released album Thank You. Unfortunately for us, Meghan Trainor performed the previous night (opening night) at Sunfest and we did not get to witness an on-stage collaboration, which we think would have been quite cool.
Fans at the Tire Kingdom Stage
Derulo showing absolutely no sign that he fractured his vertebrae only a few years ago while touring in support of his fourth studio album, Everything is 4 released in 2015. Backed by his full band, Derulo accompanied by four talented dancers executed non-stop high energy dance moves throughout his tightly choreographed and entertaining production.
After the Prince opening, Train moved into its own material, kicking things off with a pair of its bigger radio hits: the mariachi-powered “50 Ways To Say Goodbye” and “If It’s Love” with its mid-tempo groove and stream-of consciousness lyrics.
The band followed those up with a pair of older hits: the easygoing “Get To Me” and the song that first put the group on the map, the 1999 single “Meet Virginia.” Lead singer Pat Monahan then announced that the group was in the studio recording songs for their upcoming album, after which the band played a new song called “The News” for the first time in public.
The band continued its set with more of its monster radio hits: “Calling All Angels”, “Save Me, San Francisco”, “Hey Soul Sister” and “Drive By.” The encore consisted of the piano ballad “Drops of Jupiter” and a faithful rendition of Prince’s signature anthem “Purple Rain.”
The House of Marley brought yet another another epic event to Miami. The popular Reggae performance series known as The Get Together featured Chronixx and the Zinc Fence Redemption along with Ky-mani Marley and Miami based band Army Gideon at the Wynwood Yard in the heart of downtown Miami.
The Get Together, was just that. Amazing Vibes. The Sound was intense. The weather was sweet and everyone had a smile on their face. Opening act Army Gideon in one word, WOW! If you have not seen this band, run to their next performance.
Ky-Mani and family captured the crowd's attention. They were for sure, "Armed and Dangerous."
Jo Mersa and Skip Marley join Ky-Mani Marley on stage
Sunfest 2016 Day 1 – Wednesday, April 27th (Meghan Trainor, Duran Duran)
Meghan Trainor (Tire Kingdom Stage, 8:00 p.m.)
All About The Audience
Trainor’s Sunfest performance marks her return to stage, having had her previous year’s tour cancelled due to vocal-chord hemorrhaging. The first few songs of the set were taken from her major-label debut, 2015’s Title. But also making its live debut was the song “Watch Me Do”, a track from her imminent next release Thank You, due out on May 13th. The crowd consisted mainly of younger music fans but also included Meghan’s parents.
Meghan saved some of her most popular material for last, waiting till the encore to perform the ubiquitous “All About The Bass”, and her latest hit “No”, the first single from her upcoming album.
Duran Duran (Ford Stage, 8:30 p.m.)
Wild Boys Shine
Wild Boys Shine
If fellow headliner Meghan Trainor is the typical pop phenomenon, this ‘80s New Wave band from Birmingham, England is the rare case of former teen idols being able to maintain their career long after the aging of their original fans past adolescence. Few witnessing the initial chart ascent of this MTV favourite could have predicted that thirty-five years later the group would still be going strong.
But going strong it is, despite the absence of original guitarist Andy Taylor. September 2015 saw the release of the band’s fourteenth studio album, Paper Gods, the title track for which kicked off its Sunfest performance.
Clad in a white jumpsuit, front-man Simon Le Bon roamed around the stage, belting out classic Duran hits such as “Wild Boys”, “Hungry Like The Wolf” and the theme song for the 1985 James Bond film A View to A Kill. But the new album was also represented by tracks such as “Pressure Off” and “Last Night In The City.”
Bassist (and fan favourite) John Taylor seemed to have more energy than anyone else on stage, spending his time either running around, slapping his bass, singing backup or playing alongside tour guitarist Dominic Brown. But even when stationary, he still had a presence, as if he were some sort of rock-star superhero.
Throughout the show, the band honoured its influences, both living and dead. One of the songs performed was the title track for the 1986 album Notorious, produced by legendary funk guitarist Nile Rodgers, who was also involved in the group’s current album. Also played was the band’s version of the rap classic “White Lines (Don’t Do It)” by Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mal.
But perhaps the cleverest tribute was to one of the group’s biggest influences, the late David Bowie. In the middle of performing one of its earliest hits “Planet Earth”, the band segued into Bowie’s first hit, the extra-terrestial rock classic “Space Oddity.”
Also, at the beginning of the encore, Simon talked about how influenced they were by the late great funk/pop/rock superstar Prince, who had just passed away the previous week. Simon then dedicated the introspective ballad “Save A Prayer” to the Minnesota music legend, exhorting the crowd to hold up their cellphones to light up the night. The band then ended their career-spanning performance with one of their earliest smashes, the title track to 1982’s Rio. This up-tempo Duran classic was certainly a great ending to a great festival beginning.
The curtain went up around 10:30 pm and the show began with the talented Harar Band playing the “Glory of the King” instrumental from the new Diamond Sox album. Iba MaHr soon hit the stage and sang the chorus before quickly jumping into “Traveling Home” which really got the crowd “to a place where love is home.” The venue was lit up with lighters and open phones as the crowd sang the lyrics to “Burning”. Iba MaHr also made a small tribute to Bob Marley’s Burnin’ and Lootin’ during this performance. Watching the crowd’s excitement as they sang along lyrics to songs like “Great is H.I.M.” and “Let Jah Lead The Way” really highlighted the meaningfulness and substance in Iba MaHr’s music.
The sweetest part of the evening was when Iba MaHr helped create a memorable moment for a young lady he allowed to join him on stage as he serenaded her with his “Love You Girl” lyrics. The crowd went crazy when Iba MaHr cleverly included a tribute to Bob Marley’s Waiting in Vain during the performance of his own “Will I Wait In Vain” hit.
At a time where society views bad as good and good as bad it is refreshing to see an artist like Iba MaHr continue to promote good clean reggae music. Iba MaHr has a very distinct voice, which pulls you in; and lyrics that create a spiritual connection full of pure love, positivity, peace and consciousness. If you haven’t already checked out the Diamond Sox Tour, it is a must! I’m hoping to see more dates added so I can attend again and take a journey back to that peaceful place!
Press Play - View the full slide show of photos
Scenes: Love, Herb & Reggae Album Release
Taj Weekes Meet and Greet with Fans
A Reflection in Time
Reggae Reflection is a collection of images and news items relevant to the current reggae music scene. While much of the coverage may take place in the North East, Reggae Reflection will highlight artists and events of interest from around the globe.
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