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Reggae Conference to celebrate Bob Marley’s 65th birthday

The Institute of Caribbean Studies and the Reggae Studies Unit at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona will host the International Reggae Conference (formerly Global Reggae Conference) under the theme ‘Current and Future Trends in Popular Music’ from February 17-20, at the UWI.

A press release announcing the conference stated: “The conference and associated events will consolidate and disseminate knowledge on the current and future trends of Jamaican music culture as it continues its international movement across different geographical and cultural sites. It will also celebrate the 65th anniversary of the birth of Jamaica’s premier cultural ambassador, Robert Nesta Marley, with the hosting of the Annual Bob Marley Lecture, in affiliation with the Bob Marley Foundation.”

The UWI said the conference would address a range of themes and how they impact the globe.

“This conference will provide an opportunity for artistes, musicians, scholars, cultural practitioners, entrepreneurs and music lovers from around the world to share their perspectives on the ways in which reggae and dancehall have been appropriated and adapted in a variety of cultural contexts,” said the release. “It will also examine the impact of the reggae and dancehall industries locally, regionally and globally and assess ways in which the creators can benefit through the development and encouragement of internationally competitive music enterprises.”

Herbie Miller links Garvey and radical Black music

Mel Cooke, Writer

Herbie Miller, director/curator of the Jamaica Music Museum, currently based in the Institute of Jamaica, East Street, downtown Kingston, did not have a specific publication in mind when he was writing the article ‘Marcus Garvey and the Radical Black Music Tradition’. When it was finished, though, it quickly found space in a journal published by the organisation which had prompted him into writing it in the first place.

The journal is 76 King Street and is the Journal of Liberty Hall: The Legacy of Marcus Garvey. The first edition was launched in early July.

“Donna McFarlane (director/curator of Liberty Hall) had asked me to do one of her Garvey lectures. I told her I wanted to do it on that subject. And so it was really a presentation two years prior to the journal,” Miller told The Gleaner. A few adjustments to the audio-visual presentation were required.

Miller was researching music in political and social movements when he encountered a reaction to Garvey’s involvement in music. However, while it was well known, it had not been given much attention by academics, so Miller thought “it was something I would flesh out”.

That ‘fleshing out’ utilises 23 pages in 76 King Street, investigates the Harlem Renaissance and various jazz and blues musicians’ support of Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association, including after his death in 1940.

Artistic expression

Still, Miller told The Gleaner that not only Garvey, but most of the Black intelligentsia of the time (1900 – early 1920s) did not view jazz and blues as music of the highest level of artistic expression. This does not, however, indicate an innate bias, as Miller says “jazz in its formative stage was viewed as pagan, primitive, less than up full music associated with a mumbo-jumbo type of existence. The same kind of argument going on about dancehall and what it means is the same thing that was going on about jazz”. He also pointed out that jazz was accepted in France before becoming popular in the US.

Among the many persons Miller writes about are Sam Manning (a calypsonian from the West Indies), composer, poet and lyricist Andy Razaf, Jamaican poet Claude McKay, Cecil Mack, Louis Armstrong, trumpeter Tommy Morris, Paul Robeson (more closely aligned to the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People), Coleman Hawkins, Duke Ellington, ‘Empress of the Blues’ Bessie Smith, Hazel Scott, Fats Waller and Jewish schoolteacher Abel Meeropol who wrote Strange Fruit (made popular by Billie Holiday and later Nina Simone) under the name Lewis Allen.

Miller also writes that “jazz drummer, activist and scholar Max Roach deserves special mention in any discussion of music, race and political struggle”.

While Miller told The Gleaner those who supported Garvey and advocated for Black people “did not lose any work over it”, Columbia Records refused to record Billie Holiday singing Strange Fruit, instead loaning her to Commodore in 1939 to facilitate that recording. In addition, Columbia rejected jazz bassist, bandleader and composer Charles Mingus’ Fables of Fabus more than 20 years later, Mingus teaming with Max Roach to form their own label and release the recording.

Columbia did not face any repercussions. However, in later years, many musicians and performers did. Miller writes, “Some extended that embrace to an involvement with Black nationalist philosophies well into the late 20th century, even at the cost of their careers. Jazz musicians Max Roach, Archie Shepp, Charles Mingus, Charlie Haden, Randy Weston and countless others were released from recording contracts and concert bookings after making bold socio/political musical, verbal and activist statements. These are musicians who understood Garvey’s mission and committed themselves to active roles in the Civil Rights struggle.”

Some of the lyrics penned in support of Garvey and Black struggles took the direct approach, instead of utilising nuances and subtlety. Miller said it was a deliberate choice, as “writers of the period could present themselves in any way they wanted”.

Miller is not finished with ‘Marcus Garvey and the Radical Black Music Tradition’ as a second part, dealing with the musicians and performers in Jamaica, who have promoted and supported Garvey’s work and his principles, is in the making. Among those to be included are Don Drummond, Tommy McCook, Culture, Burning Spear, Big Youth, Peter Tosh and Bob Marley. Gleaner

Richie Spice for US West Coast Tour

Reggae super star Richie Spice will leave the island on Tuesday the 25th of August to for his first tour of the US West Coast in almost three years. The tour which begins on August 27th will see him performing along with Spanner Banner in several locations across California such as the BMU Auditorium in Chico, the Dub Club in Los Angeles, the Columbia City Theatre in Seattle, the Rocket Room in San Francisco and The Aruba Hotel in Las Vegas. Fans in Canada will not be left out as he is also scheduled to do a few gigs in Vancouver, Calgary & Edmonton before the end of the tour.

Before leaving island Richie Spice will be making a special appearance in Ocho Rios on the Mumbo Jumbo stage show, which will take place on Sunday August 23rd at Reggae Beach. The lineup for Mumbo Jumbo also includes Capleton, Spanner Banner, Queen Ifrica, Luciano and Shine Head to name a few. Source Outaroad.com

Busy Signal Locks and Loads Europe

Top dancehall deejay Busy Signal can officially claim Europe as his own. Busy Signal recently returned from a two week tour where he gave performances in Sweden, Germany, Norway and Italy. Busy Signal was definitely a welcomed Jamaican act, based on the you tube hits and online posts of his performances almost immediately after each show, and the shocking colour graffiti signage bearing his name on the walls surrounding various cities.

The Uppsala festival in Sweden could be considered the highpoint of his trip to Europe – after giving an hour-long performance to the large crowd, it was clear that they could not get enough of the busy one – who returned to the stage to give an additional half hour.

Busy performed hit after hit including the hugely popular “One More Night” which had the ladies swooning, and the heart pounding hit, “Up in her Belly” and of course “Da style Deh”. Source: Outaroad.com

Junior Pinchers/Slim Thugz for Vegas Rooftop concert

Junior Pinchers performed at the Vegas Rooftop Concert and Car Show hosted by Hoopz of VH1″at the Palace Station Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The show was organised by the urban radio station 97.5. ’I am looking forward to it. It’s going to be off the chain, everybody’s talking about the Fly N Sexy car show,” Junior Pinchers said.

Also on the bill were SlimThug, CurtDirt, Almost Normal, Gotti, Rhyme & Rhythm, Mr. Finley, Yaya, and Gemini Twinz will be in attendance. Dj Jamal Smallz and Dj Knowledge entertained. A & R executives from most of the major record labels will be in attendance at the concert as well as 1,000 listeners of the radio station. “It’s going to be fresh,” Junior Pinchers said. In the meantime, plans are far advanced for Junior Pinchers’ Back Broke video. Adapted One876 Entertainment.com

‘Like Father Like Son’ rocks Toronto

VP Records artistes Tarrus Riley, Jimmy Riley, Duane Stephenson and Dean Fraser literally ‘locked’ the city of Toronto with their show ‘Like Father Like Son’ staged at the Kool Haus Entertainment Complex.

The line-up outside the venue began as early as 10:30 pm (early for the Toronto market), and wrapped the block as fans of all generations and cultural backgrounds lined up to see four of reggae’s best artistes.

With music from DJ Wiz, White Bwoy and Vertex Sound, the event was hosted by Jahmin of 89.5 FM and Spex from 93.5 FM who rotated as they introduced some of the best local talent who warmed the crowd in advance of the main show. Super steel-pianist Jango earned several forwards as he performed Tony Rebel’s If Jah Is Standing By My Side and Collie Buddz Come Around.

Also earning favour with the audience was Mr Cooper who’s song Old Fashioned Love is a local favourite; Jemini introduced her newest single Life, and King Ujah kept the crowd happy with his interactive song Change.

Jimmy Riley brought out the ‘love’ in lovers as he performed hits Rough Again, Inside My Heart and Love and Devotion, then offering newer songs recorded as recently as last week.

“It’s been 10 years since I’ve performed in Canada,” said Jimmy, “and it felt really good to be on that stage!”

Dean Fraser thrilled the crowd with his saxophone. Backed by the Black Soil Band, Dean had the crowd with hands in the air as they gave a full endorsement to his choice of “big chunes”, the vibes he brought and his ability to rock them with his voice via the sax.

Duane Stephenson, one of the most anticipated performers for the evening, held the audience in the palm of his hands while he performed. Working the stage from left to right, all of Duane’s songs were well received, especially his hit tune August Town which had fans singing word for word.

Tarrus Riley took the stage at 2:45 am, and was welcomed by lighters, hands in the air, and the waving of the Rastafari flag. The singer’s hour-long set included songs from his new album Contagious, including Contagious, Human Nature and Start Anew.

Fans equally loved his performance of songs from his previous album, Parables, which when performed, caused the band to wheel and come again. Singing in unison with the reggae singer, fans became his choir when he performed She’s Royal and Stay With You.

“We are really pleased with how the show turned out” said Eric of Action Promotions. “Toronto appreciates good music, and we’re happy we could deliver!”

Dancehall act Assassin was unable to make the show due to circumstances beyond the promoter or the artiste’s control. The police report, which was ordered three weeks prior to his appointment with the embassy, and with expedited service, was not delivered.

Calling from Jamaica to Delroy G’s radio programme on CHRY 105.5FM on Thursday, Assassin and Action Promotions were honest with fans in letting them know Assassin would not be present, and assured them that details of a new show in March were being worked out with the artiste and his management. Source: JamaicaObserveronline as headline performers at Irie Jamboree in Queens, NY.

Sonny Bradshaw recovers – Serious stroke affected musician’s brain

Bandleader Sonny Bradshaw is recovering in a London hospital, two weeks after suffering a debilitating stroke in England. Musicologist Herbie Miller, a close friend of Bradshaw and his wife, Myrna Hague, said he had been in frequent contact with Hague, who told him the veteran musician was “in good spirits”.

Hague, he added, said her husband was being treated at the Queen’s Hospital in Renford. She said he sustained damage to the brain and right side of his body, but remained “animated and full of life”.

Bradshaw has been visited by several well-wishers, including Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Britain, Burchell Whiteman, and musicologist Winston ‘Merritone’ Blake. Link to big-band craze

The 83-year-old Bradshaw, a trumpeter, is one of the last links to the big band craze that took place in Jamaica during the 1940s. His contemporaries include saxophonists Tommy McCook and Joe Harriott, who were his colleagues in the All Star Band.

Bradshaw and saxophonist Bobby Gaynair, who lives in Canada, are the only survivors of that band. Bradshaw formed the Big Band in the early 1950s and also directed the Sonny Bradshaw Seven in which a number of leading musicians, including saxophonist Dean Fraser and drummer Desi Jones, got their start.

Bradshaw is also a former president of the Jamaica Federation of Musicians and wrote a weekly column, ‘Musician’, in The Star, The Gleaner’s afternoon tabloid.

Since 1991, Bradshaw and Hague have promoted the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival, an annual event held in June throughout that resort town and Kingston. Over the years, it has featured traditional jazz performers, like Jimmy Smits and Herbie Mann. Sonny Bradshaw was awarded the Order of Distinction for his contribution to Jamaican music. Source: The JamaicaGleaneronline

St Lucian hip hop artiste Keen Cotter, better known as Mecca, recently completed work on his new music video Never Enough. The video was shot on location in the St Lucian fishing village of Anse La Raye, and it was directed by Davina Lee. Born in the south west St Lucian village of Laborie, Keen entered the music scene in 1997 at 14 when his lyrical skills were noticed. By 1998, the rapper released his first radio track Punk Daddy.

Twenty-seven-year-old Bajan soca artiste King Shepherd has the number one song on the Bajan soca charts with the tune Wuk Up Pon It. Shepherd, whose real name is Dwayne Semple, was born to a Bajan father and a Guyanese mother. He spent most of his early days growing up in Jamaica. Semple describes himself as an all-rounder who is capable of doing many genres of music.

St Vincent and the Grenadines national, soca artiste Problem Child is red hot across the Caribbean as his latest single, Mad House, has taken the number one spot in Trinidad and Tobago. The song is also making moves on the Digicel Caribbean Hot 30 countdown. Problem Child is best known for the soca hits When I See You and Can’t Get Enuff.  JamaicaGleaneronline

Shaggy rescues ‘little ones’ again

Orville ‘Shaggy’ Burrell and daughter Sydney look at the operating microscope with Tanny Shirley (right), chairman, Bustamante Hospital for Children, after Shaggy and Friends handed over medical equipment to the Bustamante Hospital yesterday. – Rudolph Brown/Chief Photographer

The Bustamante Hospital for Children has received several pieces of equipment to reduce the risk and possible incidents that may occur while treating patients. Orville ‘Shaggy’ Burrell, head of Shaggy and Friends Make A Difference Foundation, handed over the equipment yesterday on the lawns of the hospital. The equipment included 19 syringe pumps; 22 value metric pumps; four hospital stretchers; three Bair Huggers; one surgical microscope; five signal pulse oximeters; nine vital signs monitors and 10 examination lights. The Medical Supplier’s Mid-wife in Florida also donated a blood warmer to the hospital.

Dr Lambert Inniss, consultant and head of the Department of Anesthesiology at the hospital, noted that the institution had a limited number, and in some cases none, of the equipment donated yesterday.

Important machine

He said that the syringe infusion pump, which is primarily used in the intensive care unit and in the operating theatre, is used to give small doses (medicine) of the most potent medication to small children. Inniss referred to a call received Tuesday night about a 27-week-old baby weighing 900 grams born out of Kingston, to emphasise the importance of the machine.” To properly medicate such a baby, we need an infusion pump,” Inniss said.

Dr Inniss, in thanking the foundation, said, “It is not easy when you are in my position, along with the other members of staff, looking after the little ones and seeing the depressed look in the eyes of their parents.” He continued, “We know what to do, but yet we struggle to offer the best we can. “Jodi Anglin, a nurse on the Orthopedic Ward, said, “In terms of technology, the equipment will make work lighter and easier. It will maximise and improve the care given to each child.” Where were the other artistes? Source Jamaica Gleaneronline.com

Only eighteen of forty acts performed at Beenie Sizzle

There are many artistes who did not perform on Beenie Man’s Sizzle. Some of them had other engagements, while others claim they were never booked for the show. Forty acts were mentioned on the poster, but only 18 of them performed at the show, which was held at the National Stadium last Saturday night. There were performances from artistes including Beenie Man, who was celebrating his birthday, Vybz Kartel, Rick Ross, Hurricane Chris, Sizzla, Jah Cure, I-Octane, Assassin, Capleton, Junior Reid and his sons Andrew and Wada Blood.

But there was also the notable absence of soca artistes Destra and Bunji Garlin, as well as other acts like Queen Ifrica, Chino, Laden, Freddie McGregor, Barrington Levy, RDX, Aidonia and Mr Vegas. Freddie McGregor, Chino and Laden, for instance, have been on a tour of Europe and the United States since June. The tour will end in September.

Chino’s publicist, Kavelle Christie, said: “Chino came back for two days a few weeks ago to be part of a documentary being filmed for National Geographic on Jamaica and some of its assets. After that, he left again and rejoined the tour. So I am not aware of that (him being booked for the show).” Similar to Chino’s case, Suku said his group, Ward 21, was not booked for the show. “That was a surprise to us ’cause we neva know anything bout it till Wednesday when we were called for the rehearsal,” he told THE STAR, while noting that the notice was too short for all the members.

Mr Vegas’ manager Ray Alexander said it was merely a misunderstanding. He said when the flyers were being sent out for printing, it was still a possibility that Mr Vegas would perform. However, his label had other engagements for him in Atlanta, (United States) which had to be met. In the case of gospel artiste Goddy Goddy, he said it was a simple mix-up.

“They indicated to me that they want me on the show but they did not confirm it. When they got back to me a week before the show, I had other bookings. It would have been an honour and a pleasure to perform on the show. I send my apologies to Beenie Man and anybody who was expecting to see me,” he told THE STAR.

Flippa Mafia said he was booked for the first date of the show on August 5. But when the show was rescheduled, he was already confirmed for another show in Philadelphia. Other acts like Queen Ifrica and RDX were seen at the venue but they did not perform.

When contacted, RDX’s Delomar said: “According to what Beenie told us, he designed a segment for the party artistes but somehow that didn’t happen. Sometimes show nuh always work out. But we still pass through and bless him up pon him earthstrong.”

Beenie Man’s company M.D Entertainment and his manager and brother Rohan ‘Blue’ Smith was in charge of booking artistes. However, calls to the company and Blue on Monday and yesterday yielded no success in getting answers. Gleaneronline.com


A crowd the size of Reggae Sumfest came out to the AICHI Reggae Breeze Festival yesterday to see Mavado Saturday night August 22, 2009. Thousands and thousands of Japanese Reggae and Dancehall fans flocked to the beach for what can only be described as a cross between Sumfest and Fully Loaded.

Thousands of miles away from home, Jamaican culture was alive and kicking as sound systems pumped out everything from Garnet Silk to Bounty Killer, surrounded by stalls selling Jerk chicken and Ital stew! Japanese Dancehall acts and selectors warmed up the crowd but when Mavado hit the stage the energy level was cosmic. The huge crowd hung on Mavado’s every word and went ballistic from start to finish.

“Its a great feeling to travel so far from Jamaica and be shown so much love from another country,” said a tired Mavado after giving his all at the show. “It shows the power of our music and culture and we need to keep using it and representing it positively. I’m having a great experience in Japan and will definitely be back soon.” Anger Management band did another fine job, as well as Flexx and Chase Cross who were both shown a lot of love from the sea of fans in attendance when called on stage by Gully God.

The final leg of the Reggae Breeze Mavado Tour stops in Kumamoto last night Sunday August 23 for the Kyushu Music Festival where he ending with the Japanese wanted more. Mavado’s quest for global domination is currently rolling through Japan, for his first-ever appearance in the Far East. After a phenomenal year that has seen him tour the UK, Europe, the Caribbean and the US, as well as appearing on BET’s Rip the Runway and HOT 97’s SUMMER JAM amongst a long list of accomplishments, Mavado’s astonishing 4 year reign at the pinnacle of Dancehall shows no sign of easing. Just like the medal-winning athletes in Berlin, Mavado is carrying the flag for Jamaica globally.

After spending the day doing Japanese press, the 2009 Reggae Breeze Tour got off to a good start at Club Cita in Kawasaki last night as Mavado thrilled the audience with his catalogue of hits. An energy-packed show left everyone in attendance grinning from ear to ear as Mavado was called back for several encores. During his performance Mavado introduced Gully Squad members Flexx and Chase Cross who both received a rapturous welcome from the Japanese crowd. The tour moves on to Nagoya for a beach festival Saturday night, before moving on to the Kyushu Music Festival on Sunday. Dancehallreggaeweseh.com outaroad.com

Memorial for Spragga Benz son shot up

It seems even in death Carlton Grant; son of Spragga Benz cannot enjoy a reprieve from cops’ bullets. At the memorial that was held last night (Sunday) bullets rang out, sending those who turned out to pay their respects scampering for cover in the wee hours of the morning.

Central Kingston residents have placed the blame squarely at the police feet. Reports gathered is that the memorial which was being held at the corner of Law and Hanover Streets saw a police team coming in at about 2:30 am to put an end to the gathering. Spragga didn’t put up any resistance but immediately told the selector that they were closing off…from that one witness said “all hell broke loose” as gun shots rang out. Those who turned out for the memorial are upset with the police as one woman said, “they killed the DJ son, the least they (police) could do is meck di man remember him son wid him friend dem in peace.” Source YardFlex.com

Makeda Marley appeared in court

The daughter of legendary reggae musician Bob Marley is asking a Common Pleas Court judge to keep several marijuana plants seized by police from her Caln home from being used at trial on drug possession charges.

Makeda Jah Nesta Marley, the youngest of the star’s 13 acknowledged children, contends through her attorney that police had no probable cause to enter and search the basement of her home during an argument she was having with a tenant who shared the property.

Caln police say they took 11 marijuana plants plus a variety of instruments used to grow the illegal drug — which Marley’s father, a habitual marijuana user who popularized the drug as “Kaya” or “ganja,” championed — after they caught Marley trying to sneak the plants out of the basement of the home she was renting.

In a hearing before Judge Thomas Gavin Tuesday, Marley’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender David Miller, indicated that his client may have felt pressured into giving police permission to search the house because of alleged threats to put her in prison or take custody of her 3½-year-old son if she did not. Two Caln police officers testified that they had not made either of those supposed threats.

Makeda Marley, 28, is a graduate of Coatesville Area Senior High School and West Chester University. She was born in Miami on May 31, 1981, less than three weeks after her famous father died of cancer in that same city. Her mother, Yvette Crichton, is the last of several women with whom Bob Marley is officially recognized as fathering a child with in addition to his widow, Rita Marley.

According to some published reports, Makeda Marley was a regular at Rita Marley’s house in Jamaica and later became a beneficiary of the Marley estate. However, court records indicate that she gave no emergency contact names when she was arraigned on the drug possession charges in September.

Her father was an enormously popular and influential musician and helped promote not only reggae music, with songs such as “I Shot the Sheriff,” “Stir It Up,” “No Woman, No Cry,” and “One Love,” but also brought attention to the Rastafarian movement, whose followers worship the late Ethiopian leader Haile Selassie and use marijuana as an aid to spiritual enlightenment. Followers were known by their wild dreadlocks and large marijuana “spliffs.”

Makeda Marley appeared in Gavin’s courtroom Tuesday dressed in a conservative pants suit, with her hair neatly drawn in twin b

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