For reasons I’ve yet to fully comprehend, I LOVE playing music for people. It all started back in college when I took over the reins of the “Caribbean Riddims” radio show from then host, Courtney Munroe. For the next five years, I was known as “Sir Walt” the Reggae Deejay on WKCR-FM’s Thursday night show. (I eventually renamed the show “Reggae Riddims”) I shopped around New York’s many Reggae stores to find the latest and greatest music to play for my audiences. I get a unique thrill knowing that I’m introducing people to music they can listen to, think about, learn from and yes, even dance to. The best calls I would receive during my shows would begin with the words, “Wow! What was the name of that song you just played…?” or “Where can I get that song you played last week?”
Of course, I consider myself very blessed to have been born Jamaican. Growing up in the country that created Reggae music was and continues to be a treat beyond compare. At the time I was growing up in Jamaica, we had two radio stations–RJR and JBC–Radio Jamaica and Redifusion, and Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation, respectively. On any given day, you could hear soul, calypso, US country music, Jazz and more all one right after the other all on the same station. Even if you didn’t have a short wave radio, like I did, you could pick up Spanish broadcasts from Cuba, which is only 90 miles north of Jamaica. Oddly enough, because of the early reputation of Reggae on the island of Jamaica itself, there was actually a time that it got harder to hear Reggae on Jamaican radio! Yes, it’s true! However, the rise of Reggae’s international appeal–thanks to artists like Bob Marley–changed that.
In any event, I’ll speak more about music matters as time goes on, but the reason this all came up, is that I recently realized that my FreeSummerConcerts website is actually an online manifestation of that same passion for sharing music. It takes a slightly different form, but every summer, I compile a list of all the free music concerts taking place in my former “home” of New York City, and I present it on my site and to my mailing list (14,000 people at last count).
Furthermore, it seems my two former lives (radio deejay and New York resident) just converged this week, when I noticed that Reggae artist, Maxi Priest would be performing in New York on Thursday, August 4!
So, in sending out this week’s FreeSummerConcerts mailing to my subscriber list , I searched through my old photo collection and added the following preface (blue) to this week’s concert listing:
[Dear Summerconcert subscribers],
This is one week when I’d LOVE to be back in New York with you! Aretha Franklin is performing, and Maxi Priest is coming to town! For those of you who didn’t know,(and that would be all of you), I used to be a radio deejay on WKCR-FM, New York. I had a show called “Reggae Riddims” as “Sir Walt.”As such, I got to interview great Reggae performers, and got free tickets to attend concerts, meet the artists backstage and duringrehearsals and more! I was the first deejay on New York radio to play Maxi Priest’s debut album, and had a chance to grab some shotsway, way, way back in the day! So, finally, all these years later, I get to scour through my recently digitized collection of 4,800 photos to find a fewshots to share with you!
British artist, Pato Banton, Maxi Priest and Me in Central Park (early 90’s I believe)
Freddie McGregor and Maxi at rehearsal before a concert at Radio City Music Hall
Front row seat shot of Maxi letting his hair down for the crowd!
Maxi Priest performs this Thursday in New York City
WHEN: Thursday, August 4, 2011, 12:00 PM(NOON)
ARTIST/EVENT: Maxi Priest!
WHERE: BAM MetroTech Commons, the corner of Flatbush and Myrtle Avenues in Downtown Brooklyn. (BROOKLYN)
Could someone please film it and post to youtube?
So, the point is: I’ve got years of stories to tell, photos to share, lyrics to translate, bootleg recordings to play (I never destroy or delete anything), so I’ll be sharing more of my passion for ALL TYPES of music right here on the Jamaican in China blog..(after all, I promised you Reggae music as well as everything else as part of I want to date a Jamaican in China!”, so here’s where I deliver), because….music matters!