Saturday, March 28, 2009

Derrick Morgan

Amember of the classic first wave of Jamaican ska artists, Derrick Morgan was among the genre's founding fathers, emerging alongside pioneers including the Skatalites, Laurel Aitken, Prince Buster and Desmond Dekker.

Born in March, 1940, Morgan was raised in the Kingston area, exposed to a variety of musical sources spanning from New Orleans R&B to the choral music of the nearby church where his father served as deacon. At the age of 17, he took top honors at the annual Vere John's Opportunity talent show, delivering blistering renditions of Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally" and "Jenny Jenny," and in 1959 teamed with producer Duke Reid to record his debut single "Lover Boy." Morgan's follow-up, "Fat Man," was a smash throughout Jamaica, and he later scored with recordings of "Leave Earth" and "Wigger Wee Shuffle," both cut with the legendary Clement "Coxsone" Dodd.

By 1960, Morgan was the unrivaled King of Ska -- at the peak of his popularity, he was the first and only Jamaican artist to date to hold down the top seven slots on the national pop singles chart during the same week, generating a string of smashes including "Be Still," "In My Heart," "Don't Call Me Daddy," "Moon Hop" and "Meekly Wait and Murmur Not."" In 1961, he recorded his biggest hit ever, "Housewives' Choice," and a year later -- in celebration of Jamaica's emancipation -- recorded the first independence song, "Forward March.Morgan and Prince Buster, arguably the two biggest ska performers of the era, became embroiled in a fierce musical feud which quickly spilled over among their respective fans, and as of 1963 disputes between the two camps became so heated that leaders of the newly formed Jamaican government were forced to intervene, calling a cease-fire and bringing the two performers together for publicity photos to bury the hatchet.

In 1966, Morgan issued "Tougher Than Tough," widely credited as the first record in the rock steady genre. He continued to innovate in the years to follow -- among his most enduring contributions were "Went to the Hop" (the first Jamaican song with an electric bass guitar), "Blazing Fire" (the first song to employ an electric piano), "Love Not to Brag" (the first duet with a female artist, Millicent Patsy Todd) and "Seven Letters" (the first reggae song, produced in collaboration with brother-in-law Bunny Lee). Morgan also produced many of the era's most notable up-and-comers, among them Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff and Garnet Silk. Although he lived in Britain from 1963 onward, Morgan remained a towering figure in Jamaica throughout the remainder of the decade; even after his fame began to slip in the 1970s, he continued recording regularly in the years to follow.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Owen Gray

O wen Gray was Jamaica's first home-grown singing star, and the first Jamaican singer to achieve recognition (and stardom) doing something other than calypso music.

He seemed destined for stardom at an early age -- born in Kingston in 1939, he showed an affinity for music and a love of singing very early in life, winning his first talent contest age the age of nine and also distinguishing himself in the local church choir, where he sang first tenor (and his mother played piano). His father was a career military man, but the younger Gray set his sights on music as a career early on, and by his teens he was an experienced singer and performer -- he attended the Alpha School, whose other alumni included such future legends as Tommy McCook and Dizzy Johnny Moore, and by 19 he was ready to turn professional. In a sense, Gray and his contemporaries could not have timed their lives and careers better, as Jamaica's musical life was ready to bloom -- the world was already listening to the sounds of calypso music in the late 1950's, initially by way of Trinidad (and pioneering figures such as Sir Lancelot) and more recently by such island-descended figures as Harry Belafonte and Lord Burgess; and Jamaica, which was already moving toward independence from Great Britain was about to experience a cultural renaissance as well. Gray's breakthrough came in 1960 when he recorded "Please Don't Let Me Go" with the Caribs (including guitarist Ernest Ranglin on his first recording session) for a young would-be record producer from England named Chris Blackwell, who'd begun to dabble in Jamaican music in between deciding what he wanted to do with his life. Released in Jamaica, it hit the top chart spot on the island, and the record was also issued in England, through the jazz label Esquire, and sold surprisingly well -- a fact undoubtedly noted by Blackwell, who began to suspect around this time that there were enough Jamaican emigres in England to make a viable business of recording and releasing music aimed at them.

Back in Kingston, Gray found himself in high demand, and his voice quickly captured -- working in idioms from rock 'n' roll to American-style r&b -- on tape by producers Leslie Kong, Prince Buster, Duke Reid and, most importantly, Coxson Dodd, who was just starting up his legendary Studio One label at the time; Gray's "On The Beach" (which featured local trombone virtuoso Don Drummond) was among the very earliest releases on that label. It was also a group of sides that he cut for Coxson Dodd that resulted in Gray's becoming the first solo Jamaican artist to have an LP of Jamaican popular music (as opposed to calypso music and folk songs) released in England -- the Esquire imprint Starlite Records combined a bunch of them in 1961 as Owen Gray Sings, which was also released in Jamaica; the album never sold even moderately well, but it was a beginning, and soon he had competing London labels issuing different tracks. With advance work like that going on without his direct input, he could hardly resist the opportunity to take the leap to the next career step, and cultivate a London audience from London, and in the spring of 1962 he moved there.

Gray recorded for Melodisc, which had previously licensed some of his Jamaican sides. and he was soon established in London, finding a large and serious club audience. He toured Europe in 1964, doing mostly soul music, and also signed with Blackwell's now-established label Island Records. By 1966, he was well known in England a a soul singer as well as for his Ska and reggae sides, and made the switch to Rocksteady easily enough, cutting sides for producer Sir Clancy Collins, and also licensing some songs to the new Trojan Records label -- his versions of the ballads "These Foolish Things" and "Always" reflected the soft ballad style for which he was known at the time. He enjoyed some further success fronting the Maximum Band (on the Fab Records imprint of Melodisc) with the ballad "Cupid", which charted in 1968. He also found favor with the early skinheads, thanks to a jump beat-driven tune called "Apollo 12", released in 1970, even as he continued to keep his hand in ballads with releases such as "Three Coins In the Fountain".

Gray moved to the Pama label in 1968, releasing his sides on their Camel Records imprint, which included "Woman A Grumble" and his version of King Floyd's "Groove Me". By 1972, he was back with Island Records, where his reggae versions of the Rolling Stones' "Tumblin' Dice" and John Lennon's "Jealous Guy" were released to complete (and astonishing) indifference; strangely enough, one of his bigger successes around this time took place in Jamaica, where his "Hail The Man" -- a single praising the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie -- was embraced by the burgeoning Rasta audience. Gray briefly tried basing himself in New Orleans -- not surprising since his early idols included Fats Domino -- and then returned to Jamaica, where he found fresh inspiration in the booming demand for roots reggae. During the mid-1970's, working with producer Edward "Bunny" Lee, he saw success on both sides of the Atlantic, as a mainstay of the roots reggae movement. Since the 1970's, Gray's career has waxed and waned, and he had returned to singing ballads by the 1990's. With the passing of his 40th anniversary as a professional musician in 1998, however, Gray has once more risen to stardom around the world, a fact confirmed by his international engagements and the release in 2004 of Shook, Shimmy & Shake: The Anthology, a double-CD set that spans a significant (though in no way nearly complete) chunk of his career. ~ Bruce Eder, All Music Guide

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Alton Ellis

O ne of the first vocalists to enter the Jamaican music business, Alton Ellis was generally revered as the greatest and most soulful singer the country ever produced -- that is, until Bob Marley came along.

Ellis had his first hit during the ska craze, but made his true lasting mark as the definitive solo singer of the rocksteady era. Sweet, smooth, and deeply emotive, Ellis was equally at home on Jamaican originals or reggae-fied covers of American R&B hits. He cut a series of ska singles for Clement "Coxsone" Dodd's Studio One label, but reached his prime during the mid- to late '60s, when he recorded some of rocksteady's signature tunes for Duke Reid's Treasure Isle imprint.

Ellis was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1944, and grew up in the Trenchtown area as part of a musically inclined family. As a youngster, he learned to sing and play piano, the latter often by breaking into a local youth center to practice by night. In his early teens, he teamed up with another singer, Eddie Perkins, to form the duo Alton & Eddie. In 1959, after winning a prominent talent show, they recorded the single "Muriel," which became a substantial hit in Jamaica. Not long after cutting the follow-up "My Heaven," Perkins left to try a solo career in the United States, leaving Ellis a solo act.Ellis recorded for Dodd's Studio One label during the early '60s, but made little money. Dissatisfied, he moved over to Reid's Treasure Isle in 1965, and formed a backup vocal trio called the Flames (the first incarnation featured his brother Leslie, and membership would fluctuate). Ellis quickly scored a major hit with the antiviolence plea "Dance Crasher," and the following year, he released what was arguably the first rocksteady single, "Get Ready - Rock Steady." Its innovative beat grew out of a session where the scheduled bassist didn't show up, forcing keyboardist Jackie Mittoo to play the bass part himself; Mittoo's left hand couldn't keep up with the frantic ska beat, so he elected to slow down the tempo. The result was a choppier rhythm that wound up allowing the vocalist to stretch out more, and soon the rocksteady sound had taken over Jamaican music, with Ellis leading the charge. He had several other major successes in 1966, including "Cry Tough" and the smash "Girl I've Got a Date," the latter of which became his biggest hit and signature song. He also cut several duets with Phyllis Dillon (making them Jamaica's answer to Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell), as well as his sister Hortense Ellis (including a hit cover of Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do"). The classic LP Mr. Soul of Jamaica (later reissued on CD as Cry Tough) gathered many of his best Treasure Isle tracks.

By 1968, Ellis had resumed working for Studio One in addition to his output for Treasure Isle, making him one of the few singers to bridge the gap between the two archrivals. Most of his biggest hits of the late '60s came on Studio One, including the American soul cover "Willow Tree," "I'm Just a Guy," and "Sitting in the Park." In 1970, he released the album Sunday Coming, one of his strongest Studio One sets. Ellis later teamed with producer Lloyd Daley for a brief period, which resulted in the more Rastafarian-tinged hits "Lord Deliver Us" and "Back to Africa"; he also worked with Keith Hudson. However, he was still not receiving proper financial compensation for all his success. Disillusioned, he spent some time in the U.S. and Canada, then relocated to England on a mostly permanent basis in 1973.

In England, Ellis established his own Alltone label, which he devoted to both new recordings and compilations of his early classics. The international popularity of Bob Marley and the rise of roots reggae meant that Ellis' considerable legacy was soon overshadowed, but over time, he remained a fondly remembered pioneer of Jamaican music. He made triumphant returns to Jamaica with well-received sets at the Reggae Sunsplash Festival in both 1983 and 1985, and recorded a new single, "Man From Studio One," for Dodd in 1991. Numerous compilations of his work appeared during the CD era, illustrating his stunning consistency.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Stranger Cole

S tranger Cole was born Wilburn Theodore Cole in 1945 in Kingston, Jamaica, receiving the nickname “Stranger” because he resembled no one else in his family. Cole began his recording career with producer Duke Reid.

scoring a hit with his 1962 debut, “Rough & Tough,” a full-tilt ska number with a wild harmonica solo. His Louis Jordan revival song, “Run Joe,” was a hit in 1965, and featured members of the Techniques on harmony vocals. Stranger frequently used duet partners, most notably Patsy Todd and Ken Boothe, and later in his career, Gladstone Anderson (their version of “Just Like a River” is one of Cole’s finest songs)stemming from an apparent shyness in the studio, but Cole developed into a soulful vocalist, and his songs radiate a kid of joyful personality that is rare in most reggae. Cole left Reid as the ska era waned, becoming sort of a maverick, cutting sides with several Jamaican producers, including Sonia Pottinger, Lee “Scratch” Perry (including the wonderful single, “Run Up Your Mouth”), and Bunny “Striker” Lee, before relocating to England in 1971, where he toured extensively. Cole moved to Toronto, Canada, in 1973, where he released three albums on his own label, The First Ten Years of Stranger Cole (1978), Captive Land (1980), and The Patriot (1982). In 2003, Trojan Records released Bangarang: The Best of Stranger Cole 1962-1972, a long overdue retrospective of this fine Jamaican singer’s career.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Laurel Aitken

Laurel Aitken
was born in 1927 in Cuba and moved to West Kingston, Jamaica in 1938 with his family when he was eleven. He began his music career in the 40's, singing songs in the Nat King Cole/Louis Jordan style of that time.

- and then cut his teeth on the sounds of R & B, soul, calypso, mento - as well as his personal love: boogie. Singing at the Glass Bucket Club and attending the roving sound systems provided stomping grounds where Laurel began to develop and hone his great talent for singing, dancing and generally attracting an audience. Laurel cut several singles in the 50's, including in 1957, the R&Bish "Roll, Jordan Roll." Laurel's big break came in a year later with the release of the "Little Sheila"/"Boogie in my Bones" double A sided single -- the first single ever released on a new upstart label called Island Records, which was founded by Englishman Chris Blackwell. "Little Sheila" spent 11 weeks at #1 on the Jamaican charts, cementing his popularity with Jamaican music fans.

Island soon grew to become the the seminal force that introduced and promoted Jamaican music in the UK -- and today retains its status as on eof the biggest supporters of Jamaican music. It is Blackwell's influence in generating English interest in the Jamaican sound that left a mark on ska's history in general and Aitken's history specifically. Laurel Aitken immigrated to England in 1960 and changed the face of ska music forever. Throughout the 50's, wave after wave of Jamaican citizens left Jamaica to settle in post-W.W.II England, where job opportunities were there for those who wanted them.With Jamaican immigrants came a demand for Jamaican tastes in the UK and Laurel heard that he could make it big overseas. Despite gray skies and miserable weather, Aitken found the Jamaican community in the London neighborhood of Brixton welcoming. A label in Britain had been releasing bootlegs of unavailable Jamaican recordings to meet the new demands -- and when Laurel arrived, he had a stern word with the responsible parties. From that meeting, Melodic started a new label - Blue Beat - to cater to the Jamaican market. After several years with Melodic, Laurel moved on and recorded for EMI, Ska Beat, Nu Beat, Direct Records and Doctor Bird Records, among many others. During this period, he cut such classic tracks as "Fire in Mi Wire," "Bartender," "Jesse James," "Landlord and Tenants," "It's Too Late" and "Pussy Price." Laurel was the only Jamaican star who regularly toured the UK and was very successful in doing so. Laurel Aitken has had a long and fruitful recording career that continues to this day. He has performed all styles of Jamaican music, including rock steady and reggae.

Throughout the 60's and 70's, " Laurel waved the Blue Beat banner. When Jerry Dammer and company went about forging a British new wave ska festival at the end of the 70's, it was the power of Laurel Aitken and Prince Buster that became Laurel continued to perform and record throughout the 80's and 90's (with such diverse ska stars as Japan's Ska Flames, Germany's Busters and America's Toasters) - and to this day remains a dynamic live performer who always wows an audience. Laurel Aitken has been deeply involved with ska music since its birth -- and through every 'wave' of ska music. He has performed all over the world and despite being 72 years young, Laurel is ready to remind the new US ska crowd that he really is the "Godfather of Ska.During the 2-Tone era, Laurel played with The English Beat and toured with the mod band Secret Affair (and was backed by the punk/reggae band the Ruts!) -- and his career was rejuvenated with the new found popularity of ska in the UK. The classic "Rudi Got Married" was released during this period on I-Spy/Arista Records. After the demise of 2-Tone, Laurel kept his faith in ska music and recorded several albums and single with the brilliant British ska band, Potato 5 and even appeared in the mod film "Absolute Beginners" with David Bowie.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Skatalites

The sound of the Skatalites is, to a large degree, the sound of Jamaican ska records from the 60s, but the actual reason the group formed as 'The Skatalites' was to perform live. By June of 1964, the musicians who came together as the Skatalites had already been crucially involved in the developement of the new Jamaican music called ska, but it wasn't until then that this group of the top studio musicians formed a self-contained live band, after years of recording in ever-changing combinations for a variety of producers (Clement Dodd, Duke Reid, Prince Buster, et al).

By the end of 1963, 'uptown' bandleaders were filling out their setlists with the latest ska hits but 'The Skatalites' still did not exist as such. The future Skatalites wanted to play their own ska music live, but to get booked, they needed two things: a name and a bandleader. The latter appeared when they convinced Tommy McCook (recently returned from eight years playing jazz in the Bahamas) to lead the band. The former came from McCook's 'punful' variation on Knibb's suggestion of 'Satellites'.
Thus equipped, the Skatalites were ready to take the live music scene in Jamaica by storm. By all accounts, they were one of the most exciting live bands on the island, but unfortunately, it seems that the only live performance that has survived in any recording medium is a famous piece of silent film that shows them playing on the back of a parade float. It often appears in ska documentaries with some studio record as soundtrack, but no actual live sound recordings appear to have survived that era. After a brief reunion in 1983-84, the band re-formed permanently in 1989 and went to work as a full-time touring band - without a break.

They tour Europe, the States and Japan relentlessly. With a core of original members the Skatalites show an entire generation of ska revivalists what ska was supposed to be. Seeing the Skatalites live has become like 'going to church' for younger fans who knew them only through their recordings. And recently there was even a very special double debut: The Skatalites live in Argentina! (It took 4 years of planning to bring the Skatalites to Buenos Aires for the first time!). A n d the production of a Skatalites live album that everyone's been waiting for, a mere 40 years after the breakup of the original group! 'Skatalites in Orbit Vol. 1' has been released in December 05 (Grover Records, V.O.R) and it's only the beginning. A series of live releases is planned to keep this band and this band's incredible spirit alive forever.


The Skatalites are:
Doreen Shaffer - Gesang
Val Douglas - Kontrabass
Lloyd Knibb - Schlagzeug
Lester 'Ska' Sterling - Alt Saxophon
Karl 'Cannonball' Bryan - Tenor Saxophon
Vin Gordon - Posaune
Kevin Batchelor - Trompete
Devon James - Gitarre
Ken Stewart - Piano

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Apollo ten started in lates 99 and early 2000 name Apollo ten was taken from the moon ska records compilation cover album. We've been played in every kind of gigs,with every kind of bands,every kind of people and we love it. We've been played in other cities too beside our beloved city Jogjakarta such as Bandung,Purwokerto,etc.In the late 2005 we've released our 3 songs demo. The demo cd has brought to other countries by our friend such as Don bruno from Banana fanzine (CZECH REPUBLIC) and Toby from Germany also Cristian fiebig (drummer from great germany ska band "Bluekilla" )...thanks bradda!! WEBSITE:


Formed in a North Hollywood garage in 1990, SEE SPOT has been one of the leading ska bands in Los Angeles' rich tapestry of excellent groups since their first professional gig in 1994. Since their debut at the Hong Kong Cafe in Chinatown, Los Angeles, SEE SPOT has kept toes tappin' and bodies groovin' with their unique brand of roots ska laced with heavy latin, jazz, and big band influences. This 6-piece powerhouse delves into rocksteady, reggae and latin boogaloo in addition to their own thumpin' style of rhythmic, traditional ska. Fronted by vocalist Charles Farrar , they have some of the catchiest, memorable tunes the ska world has to offer today!

Over the years, SEE SPOT has had the privilege of sharing the stage with some of the finest performers around from the originators (The Skatalites, Justin Hinds, Carlos Malcom) to the modern era groundbreakers (The Toasters, Let's Go Bowling, Hepcat, Jump With Joey) to the contemporary leaders (The Slackers, Chris Murray, The Aggrolites). They have delighted lovers of music LIVE in Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, Las Vegas, and more, in addition to their beloved California home. They have frequently performed at such Hollywood staples as The Whisky-A-Go-Go, The El Rey Theatre, The Knitting Factory, Doug Weston's Troubadour, and B.B. King's and never pass up a chance to get the crowd movin'!

With their 3rd full-length album, "THE ROBBERY", on the brink of release, 2008 promises to be a breakthrough year for the music of SEE SPOT!! Come check them out and be prepared to dance... you will NOT be disappointed!!!

more about seespot klik at

Go Jimmy Go

Go Jimmy Go has been the front-runner in Hawaii’s music industry, creating original rhythms since the late ‘90s. With a wholly unique sound, the key to their success has been the band’s feverish chemistry of musicians. With a foundation of driving beats, drummer/vocalist Shon Gregory and bass man Cameron Wright set the pace for Ian Ashley’s melodic guitar/vocals. Fernando Pacheco, trombone and tenor saxophonist Eric White, add the sweet memorable flavor of “old Jamaica” while the frenetic moves and soulful vocals of lead singer Jason “Bison” Friedmann never cease to amaze audiences.



look at this bullshit who do these pricks thik they are... i see one thing down here man,, and thats mid life crisis... get it together .... what the helll is with the red and the yello wand the blue and the sweaters and the neru ....what is this the bill cosby show? get a life loser and quit tryin to live yer high school fantasy of not gettin towel whipped by the jocks inb the locker room...One elderly gent says,"Why it sounds like a lot of music I used to like, but I don't think any of you boys look addicted to HEROIN!" Doomed to try and explain themselves to a world full of hungry club-promoters, style-police, genre-slaves and the generally confused, they wrote bio upon bio, hoping to snag someone...ANYONE!...who might is attempt 6,364…” - Vic Ruggiero, The Slackers The Slackers sound is Jamaican rock n roll. While they have been influenced, and even personally taught by Jamaican ska/reggae originators, like the Skatalites and the Upsetters (Original backing band for the Wailers), the band sees its music through an American lens. This band is equally appreciative of old blues, 60s soul, rock, and Rnb as it is of reggae, rocksteady, dub, and Ska. It is as if the Rolling Stones or the Yardbirds had grown up on Bob Marley as well as Muddy Waters. From their 1996 release, Better Late Than Never through to last year's, Peculiar, the NYC-based band, the Slackers have established themselves as America's premiere interpreters and innovators of Jamaican music. In their new release, The Boss Harmony Sessions, they take this unified eclectism one step further. They revisit a rock standard, 'Mama Told Me Not Come', and infuse it with Trojan era reggae, psychedelic organs, and a coltraneish sax solo. 'Wanted Man' by Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash becomes an outlaw reggae ballad. 'Minha Menina' by Jorge Ben (Os Mutantes) is in Portuguese, very Brazilian rock yet very reggae, and even has a sitar solo! The originals, 'Robots' and 'Body Double', refer thematically to our dystopian present. One instrumental, 'Funk Week' makes a nod to Afro-Beat while the other 'Ska Boheme' makes a nod to opera. 'Yer Still Blue' is pure New Orleans while 'Lil Joe', 'Feed My Girl', and 'Mind Your Own Business' feature old school Jamaican sounds. For this new release, the Slackers turned to LA based DJ, Boss Harmony, to filter through their music. He selected the 12 album cuts from the 30 songs that the Slackers have recently recorded. He added some ambient sounds, transitional dialogue, lined up the tracks, and tweaked the overall sound. The effect is that this disc has the warm intimacy of a good friends mix cd of some of his favorite music. A cd that someone might pass onto you and say, "hey check this out!" Their previous release, Peculiar, was an artistic triumph. called it "the best American ska record to appear in a long, long while (well, at least since the Slackers last one)." Alternative nation described it as "protest music made for dim, sweaty basements, The Slackers would sound at home supporting Rancid as well as some grizzled New Orleans electric blues trio." In 2006, the band supported Peculiar by performing in 20 American states , 12 European countries, 2 Canadian Provinces, Mexico, and Brazil. As the prescient reviewer predicted they actually finished up 2006 opening for Rancid for a multi night run in San Francisco! In addition to Peculiar, the Slackers have released 11 other cds. Their first was Better Late Than Never (1996), featured a raw, direct vibe that The New York Times was quick to declare is "The Sound of New York." Upon signing with Tim Armstrong's, Hellcat Records, in 1997, the band released Red Light, which saw them evolving into a smoother, more melancholy and soulful unit. They have followed up Red light with 5 more releases on Hellcat. 1998’s, the Question, was proclaimed to be “the new Exile on Main Street.” Wasted Days from 2001 was praised by Maxim and the Village Voice and reached 8 on the sales charts. Close My Eyes from 2003 was praised by the Kerrang!,BBC, Pulse , and the LA Weekly which said, “it captures their unfettered energy, unerring skankability, and playful anger to a tee!“ The Slackers have also made several self-produced albums that have focused on different aspects of the band. The band paid tribute to their roots on Slackers & Friends, which features the Slackers as a backing band for American and Jamaican recording artists such as Glen Adams (the Upsetters), Cornell Campbell (the Uniques), Congo Ashanti Roy (the Congos), Doreen Schaeffer (the Skatalites), and Ari-up (the Slits). International War Criminal was a political-themed ep that was put out to coincide with the 2004 presidential election. Afternoon in Dub is an all reggae album that sounds like the title. The Slackers/Pulley split is a punky reggae party with their friends from Deconstruction tour in 2004. Since the release of Red Light, the Slackers have headlined 16 major US Tours and 11 European tours. They have appeared on the stages of the Warped Tour (1998), the Lowlands Festival (1999), Pukkelpop (1999, 2004), CMJ (2000), Montreal Jazz Festival (2000), the Bourges Festival (2001), the Dour Festival (2002, 2007), Deconstruction Tour (2004), Augustboller (2005), Streetbeat Festival (2005), Popkomm (2006), Summerjam (2007), Mighty Sounds (2007), and Ilosaarirock (2007) . They have shared stages with Rancid (1999,2003, 2006), Hepcat (1999), Joe Strummer (2002, 2003), Floggin Molly (2002), Jimmy Cliff (2002), the Beat (2002), Pennywise (2004), Toots & the Maytals (2005), The Pogues (2006), and John Spencer’s Heavy Traffic (2007). They have sold out numerous headlining gigs including such famous venues as Slims (San Francisco), Lee’s Palace (Toronto), The Garage (London), CBGBs (NYC, 2 nights in a row in 2006), Troubadour (LA, 3 times in 2006), the Knitting Factory (NYC, 5 times in the last 4 years), the Melkweg (A-dam), SESC Pompeia (Sao Paolo, 2 nights in 2006), and the Loft (Tokyo). The Slackers began 2007 by releasing Big Tunes!, a greatest hits compilation for the Japanese market, and this was followed by a tour of Japan and Korea. They followed this up with a tour of the Midwest & Canada which had them breaking many of their own attendance records. A summer European tour had them playing to festival crowds up to 10,000 people! A recent fall tour of California had them packing out rooms from San Diego to LA to San Francisco. In mid-2007, the band also released its first official DVD entitled, “The Slackers: A Documentary.” This DVD follows the ups and downs of the band over the years and contains a combination of live footage with one-on-one interviews between band members and the filmmaker, Ben Levin.


Better Late Than Never (Moon – 1996; Special Potato re-release 2002)
Red Light (Hellcat – 1997)
The Question (Hellcat – 1998)
Live at Ernestos (Hellcat – 2000)
Wasted Days (Hellcat – 2001)
Slackers & Friends (Special Potato/Select Cuts – 2002)
Close My Eyes (Hellcat – 2003)
Upsetting Ernestos (LAE - 2004)
International War Criminal EP (Thought Squad/Disk Union)(2004)
The Slackers/Pulley Split CD (Do Tell, 2004)
Afternoon in Dub (Special Potato/Select Cuts/Disk Union – 2005)
Slack in Japan (Disk Union – 2005)
Peculiar (Hellcat – 2006)
Big Tunes (Greatest Hits CD) (Disk Union – 2007)
The Boss Harmony Sessions (Special Potato/Rockers Revolt/ Aktive/Universal – 2007)


Pressure Cooker

PRESSURE COOKER is Bostons progressive roots reggae band. The group was founded in 1997 with a shared love of Jamaican music of the sixties andseventies era. Using this inspiration as a guide, Pressure Cooker crafted its own flavor of new American reggae music, thoughtfully written and powerfully delivered through a horn-infused, nine piece supergroup. Pressure Cooker has performed live for nearly a decade, and independently recorded five full length releases. Fronted by lead singer Craig Akira Fujita and backed by a core of talented Boston-area musicians, the band has thrilled audiences at clubs & festivals spanning from New England to Chicago. Over the years, Pressure Cooker has played in support of top artists of reggae music including Burning Spear, Toots & the Maytals, Prince Buster, Derrick Morgan, The Wailers, The Skatalites, Culture, Eek-A-Mouse, Julian Marley & Sister Carol. Pressure Cooker music has reached audiences worldwide through DJs, distribution outlets such as CD Baby & iTunes Music store, niche CD compilations in the U.S., Japan, France, Germany and Poland, and the Chicago label Jump Up Records for the 2004 album Burning Fence. The ABC Family network included songs from the 2003 album Committed in two episodes of the television program Knock First. Pressure Cooker received nominations to the Boston Music Awards in 1999, 2000, and 2004. On April 1, 2006, Pressure Cooker celebrated the release of Future's History, the bands fifth full-length CD, live at Harpers Ferry in Allston, Massachusetts.

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If the classic soul, smooth reggae, upbeat ska and distinctive storytelling found all over Westbound Train’s new album, Come and Get It, has you stepping into your neighborhood record shop in search of Otis Redding, the Wailers, or The Specials, nobody would be more stoked than the members of Boston's best modern reggae/soul outfit. …Westbound Train wants to be your gateway drug. Shattering musical boundaries while embracing the best of several genres, the septet has fully come into their own with Come and Get It, their second Hellcat release. The new album invites listeners on a journey, traveling through all of the band’s previous influences while creating an exciting new sound that they are eager to reveal to the world in 2009. "We are a band that isn't afraid to take risks. We take what we do seriously," explains lead vocalist/trombone player and band co-founder Obi Fernandez. "I hope that we can be a band that makes people want to trace our music back to its sources - Sam Cooke, the Four Tops, The Maytals, or whomever. The farther you go back, the more you realize that all of these styles that sound a lot different today have a whole lot in common." After years of nonstop touring in support of their Hellcat debut, Transitions, the band’s members took some time off from touring to refocus and further improve the cohesion of the group. They soon enlisted new members Eric Novod (drums) and Luke Penella (tenor sax), whose shared love of soul and jazz greatly contributed to the new sounds found on Come and Get It. Compared to the band’s three previous albums, Come and Get It is the best representation of Westbound Train to be captured on record thus far. Two stand-out tracks include "So Many Things a Man Can Say," an old-school ballad that captures Fernandez’s love of the Motown sound, and the highly orchestrated second track, "Ain't Gonna Be Easy," written about Fernandez’s father. "In addition to the song being about my father, a lot of stuff was going on that was making life a little more complicated," Fernandez says. “Check Your Time,” is a reggae track near and dear to Fernandez’s heart that features the band’s infectious groove and a sing-along chorus that is sure to become a new fan favorite. The album’s hard-hitting title track, co-written by bassist Thaddeus Merritt, mixes two different points-of-view with dazzling effect. “I wrote it with Thad, so you get his perspective and my perspective in the same song,” Obi explains. “The song is really a conversation revolving around what I’ve been through along with what I’ve seen Thad go through. It makes it a really fun one to perform every night.” Additionally, the ska tune "Cheers The World's Almost Over" serves as a mission statement for what Westbound Train has always dreamed to be as a band. "I just love the groove of the song," Fernandez says. "As a songwriter, I really enjoyed sharing the chorus of that tune with the band. Everything about that song encompasses our sound, our vibe, what we're about." When the time came to capture this newfound Westbound sound on tape, the band brought in the legendary Dave Hillyard (Slackers, Rocksteady 7) to produce Come and Get It. "Dave had great ideas about everything," Obi explains. "He's all about the music and really knows how to get performances out of people. He definitely brought the jazz mentality to the table – and it’s definitely helped us in the way we think about playing our new tunes – and our old tunes as well. It's not so much about the execution as it is about what we’re trying to say. He is really talented. I loved working with him." The release of Come and Get It has offered Westbound Train a unique moment to think about their legacy, and how they ultimately want to be perceived as they move forward. "We want to make music for everyone. I want to be known as being in a band with great musicians who want to have a great time and can take people somewhere regardless of where they're at, or what they’re into," Obi says thoughtfully. "By the end of the show, we'll have you smiling and dancing and hopefully during our time together the world seemed to be a much better place. I hope we can be that band for people." Westbound Train consists of Obi Fernandez (vocals, trombone), Rich Graiko (trumpet) Luke Penella (tenor sax), Gideon Blumethal (keyboards), John DeCarlo (guitar), Thad Merritt (bass), and Eric Novod (drums). The band has toured throughout the U.S. and Europe on multiple occasions since its inception in 2001, sharing the stage with the likes of Rancid, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Goldfinger, The Skatalites and The Toasters. The band and has released four albums: Searching for a Melody 2003, Five to Two 2005, Transitions 2006, and Come and Get It 2009. Westbound Train has been on Hellcat Records since 2006 and is represented by Strong Fire Entertainment. website:


The Aggrolites are more than a band they are a movement unto themselves. They carry a banner - one created with their own hands. This banner reads, “Dirty Reggae,” and represents their signature fusion of reggae, soul, grit and determination. For seven magnificent years, this dirty reggae bunch has rolled from city to city, across the pond and up main street USA. They rally the kids, the parents, the students, the cops, the bosses and the drifters. The people come, they relish in The Aggrolites, the dirty reggae and the joy that comes with it all. The liberating rhythms and catchy grooves demand a return trip. Out of the Los Angeles school of hard knocks, The Aggrolites have earned a Ph.D in "feel good music." On the road they educate with the thunder and punch of the reggae drums and bass, the ripping, soulful melodies of the organ and guitars, and Jesse Wagner’s voice - a gift from the heavens, a perfectly intact gift from Otis, Sam, Ray and Wilson. The Aggrolites have a specific way of making music. They don't over think it, they don't obsess over pop culture demands, they walk onto a stage or into a recording studio and let "it" happen - a culmination of inspiration - from the road, from playing alongside legends, and from the energy and motivation of their die hard fans. A new album is due for release in June 2009 and they call it IV. It is a definitive chapter in The Aggrolites journey with 21 tracks; each one a story of their struggle to thrive and their quest to spread soulful music around the globe. So, when you are in the mood to drop your troubles and kick your baggage to the curb, call on The Aggrolites. The Aggrolites are Jesse Wagner (vocals, lead guitar), Brian Dixon (rhythm guitar), Roger Rivas (organ) and Jeff Roffredo (bass). They have three other full-length albums to their credit -- Dirty Reggae (Axe 2003), The Aggrolites (Hellcat 2006) and Reggae Hit L.A. (Hellcat 2007), featuring the hit "Free Time." “A glorious, surprising treat. Ideal for your next soul shakedown party,” raved Peter Relic from Rolling Stone about Reggae Hit L.A. Their songs are featured on the 2008 Vans Warped Tour Compilation and numerous Give ‘Em The Boot compilations from Hellcat. In 2007, the band also collaborated with Rancid front-man Tim Armstrong on his solo A Poet's Life (Hellcat 2007) CD/DVD release. The Aggrolites are well represented in film, television and video games. Their songs have been featured in NBC's Friday Night Lights, MTV's The Hills, Nick Jr.'s Yo Gabba Gabba, USA's Dr. Steve-O, MavTV's Rad Girls, the award-winning surf film The Pursuit, and Australian video game Cricket. The Aggros-backed, Tim Armstrong and Skye Sweetnam duet, "Into Action," is featured in Dream Works Pictures' Hotel For Dogs. Their renditions of The Specials' "Ghost Town" and Musical Youth's "Pass The Dutchie" will be heard in the upcoming teen surf comedy Endless Bummer, and "Free Time" will be in Walden Media's musical-romantic comedy Band Slam. The Aggrolites have shared the stage with Social Distortion, Madness, Rancid, Flogging Molly, 311, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Dropkick Murphys, The Vandals, Against Me!, Gogol Bordello, The Aquabats, Hepcat, The Skatalites, Prince Buster and Derrick Morgan. They have graced the stages at such notable events as Vans Warped Tour, SXSW, Bumbershoot, CMJ, Sundance Film Festival, L.A. Film Fest, Sunset Junction, Detour Music Fest, KROQ’s Weenie Roast, 94/9 Independence Jam and Ragga Muffins Fest. In 2009, they will add Coachella, Fuji Rock in Japan, West Coast Riot, Open Air St. Gallen, Pohoda Festival, Rebellion Festival, Chiemsee Reggae Festival, Couvre Feu Festival, among numerous others around the world to this growing festival list. website:

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A seminal force in the American ska & reggae scene, KING DJANGO has made his name internationally as a singer, ragamuffin MC, songwriter, arranger, instrumentalist (trombone, ukulele, harmonica, melodica, etc.), producer, studio engineer and label owner (Stubborn Records).

On his newest album Roots Tonic, Django has enlisted an all-star cast of NYC's finest ska/reggae veterans. The result: twelve crucial roots reggae cuts utilizing tuff original riddims covering a wide range of styles including dark, sultry lovers rock, militant rockers, crisp rub-a-dub deejay, psychedelic dub and even niyabinghi, complex lyrical structures, and combinations with Rocker T and Dr Ring Ding. Musically, Roots Tonic harkens back to the positive, political reggae of the late 70's / early 80's spearheaded by legendary imprints Island, Frontline, Trojan, Heartbeat, On-U Sound and Greensleeves. That was a time when songwriting was key, conscious lyrics reigned supreme and reggae music was live and full of soul & Dancehall was in its infancy and still resembled reggae, unlike its mostly American hip-hop and R&B influences today. So sit back, take a heavy drink -- its 100% organic -- and soak up reggae's energy, strength, and soul with our cure-all: KING DJANGO's Roots Tonic on JUMP UP/Stubborn Records (USA)/Bacteria Buffet Records (Canada)/Ska In The World Records (Japan)!

King Django always keeps busy and always has a surprise or two up his sleeve. Drawing on such diverse influences as roots reggae, dancehall, ska, rock, soul, swing, and American and Yiddish folk music, he has always been a hard man to pigeonhole. His versatility within genres of punk, rhythm & blues, and Jamaican grooves is unmatched, starting early as the singer / trombonist of legendary NYC ska band The Boilers (1986-1988), evolving through reggae/soul/punk/jazz experimentalists Skinnerbox (1989-1998), and achieving mainstream recognition as the founder and leader of traditional ska supergroup Stubborn All-Stars (1994-1999). After the ska revival died down, King Django was able to devote his full energy to solo material: "Roots and Culture" (Triple Crown Records, 1998) combined ska, reggae and traditional klezmer music; while "Reason" (Hellcat / Epitaph, 2001) was an adventurous, eclectic self-produced album of rock deeply grounded in roots-reggae, dancehall, hip-hop, and drum and bass. In late 2003, King Django headed to Switzerland to record King Django Meets The Scrucialists, unleashing twelve brilliant slices of political roots reggae, rockers, dub, lovers rock, ska and dancehall, including two combinations with German ska/dancehall superstar Dr. Ring Ding.

In 2003 and 2004, Django hit the road in support of three releases on three different independent labels. A Single Thread, an 11-year career retrospective, which saw release in three countries (Megalith Records, USA/Ska In The World, Japan/Leech, Switzerland) presents an overview of Django’s range of style and capabilities. In 2003, King Django headed to Europe to record King Django meets the Scrucialists (Jump Up Records, Chicago/Leech, Switzerland). These sessions unleashed the true lyrical genius that has been inside Django all this time. The result was twelve brilliant slices of political roots reggae, rockers, dub, lovers rock, ska and dancehall, including two combinations with German ska/dancehall superstar Dr. Ring DingThe American release also includes two exclusive dancehall versions created with the hottest new riddims coming straight out of Jamaica. Version City Sessions (Asian Man Records, California) showcases Django’s talents as a producer, engineer and remix artist.

King Django has toured internationally many times over as a solo artist, as the leader of Skinnerbox and Stubborn All Stars and as trombonist for Rancid, The Toasters, and legendary New York City hardcore band Murphy's Law.In the studio, he has worked closely with fellow NYC pals the The Slackers and Skadanks and recorded with Tim Armstrong, Lars Fredrickson and Matt Freeman of Rancid and Dicky Barrett of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones on Stubborn All Stars’ Back with A New Batch in 1997 (Triple Crown).

At about the same time, Django began collecting studio equipment and soon the legendary Version City was born. Within months, a steady flow of bands flocked to this NY mecca to create warm Jamaican vibes with Django's knowledge, production and engineering skills.<>


Chris Murray is a unique force on today's music scene. As leader of influential Canadian ska group King Apparatus, Chris earned a strong reputation as a dynamic performer and gifted songwriter. Upon the band's breakup, he relocated to Los Angeles, emerging as a solo artist with his debut album The 4-Track Adventures Of Venice Shoreline Chris. This charmingly lo-fi collection of home recordings won high praise for its finely crafted tunes and the raw sincerity of its vintage production.

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