Monday, February 23, 2009

Beres Hammond

O n an island overpopulated with good song makers, Beres Hammond’s gritty vocalizing, as well as his incomparable production and songwriting skills, primarily detailing the vicissitudes of romantic relationships, have earned him a remarkable place in Jamaica’s lush musical landscape.

Born in 1955 in the island’s verdant garden parish of St. Mary, Hugh Beresford Hammond has for more than two decades been a consistent hitmaker on his native island. By age 11, Hammond began traveling from his home in the rural one-street town of Annotto Bay to Jamaica’s bustling capital city of Kingston to observe the singers who frequented the downtown record shops.

In 1975 Hammond joined the Jamaican fusion band Zap Pow as lead singer, remaining with the group for four years while simultaneously releasing solo records

In 1975 Hammond joined the Jamaican fusion band Zap Pow as lead singer, remaining with the group for four years while simultaneously releasing solo records. His debut solo alum, Soul Reggae (Aquarius Records, 1976), sold well throughout Jamaica.

The frustration of releasing hit records in Jamaica without proper monetary compensation, due to the island's chaotic music industry infrastructure, led Hammond to form his own record label/production company, Harmony House, in the early '80s.

Since the release of his first Harmony House single, “Groovy Little Thing,” in 1985, Hammond has sustained a succession of hit records on the reggae charts worldwide. His 1987 hit “What One Dance Can Do,” recorded for producer Willie Lindo, entered the pop charts in England and elicited a string of answer records including Hammond’s own “She Loves Me Now.” Both tunes solidly established Hammond’s name on the dancehall reggae circuit.
Greater success came in 1990, when Hammond joined forces with longtime friend Donovan Germain of Kingston’s Penthouse Records, laying vocals over a reggae rhythm track Germain had created. Though the singer barely remembered recording “Tempted To Touch,” the song shot to number one in Jamaica. Hammond’s subsequent Penthouse album A Love Affair spawned several hits, including duets with Buju Banton, the most popular dance hall DJ of a decade ago, The Hammond/Banton musical partnership commenced with the 1992 number one tune “Who Say” and later yielded “Pull It Up,” the 1999 reggae song of the year, an ode to Jamaican dancehall sessions of an earlier, more peaceful era.


Beenie Man


K nown for his throaty chuckles and “Zagga zow!” catch phrase, this rapid-fire DJ born Moses Davis in 1973 earned the alias Beenie Man as a toddler because he was “a little boy with a man’s brain.” He grew up in Kingston, where he was exposed to some of Jamaica’s greatest sound systems. By the age of eight, Beenie was a bona-fide recording star himself with the single “Too Fancy,” and he released his first album when he was 10.
But unlike many child stars, Beenie Man kept rising. By the mid-’90s, he was collecting DJ of the Year awards, and he signed with Island to record the Rastafarian-influenced Blessed. Featuring the hard-hitting smash “Slam,” Blessed established Beenie Man’s international reputation immediately. He was even given a doctorate (“of all lyrics”) from the University of the West Indies’ music department.

He began flaunting his Doctor status on Maestro (VP). The party atmosphere of the album’s big hit “Girls Dem Sugar” was balanced out by several cultural songs. He followed that with the album he considers his best, Many Moods Of Moses (VP), featuring the rootsy “Steve Biko” (complete with an intro based on Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”), the country song “Ain’t Gonna Figure It Yet” and the inescapable “Who Am I” (“Zim zimma, who got the keys to my Bimma?”).

Beenie continued exploring new territory (gospel, R&B, hip-hop) on The Doctor (VP) and then took this crossover impulse to the extreme after signing with Virgin. For Art & Life, producer Salaam Remi resurrected the hip-hop beat of “O.P.P.” on the Wyclef Jean collaboration “Love Me Now.” “Gals Dem Sugar” was softened up by the R&B singer Mya. “I Got A Date” adapts the Staple Singers’ staple “I’ll Take You There” while “Tumble” features trumpeter Arturo Sandoval. The only track that’ll satisfy dancehall purists is “Haters And Fools” over Dave Kelly’s eerie “Bug” rhythm. This pop-music hodgepodge won Beenie the Grammy he long deserved.

With Tropical Storm, Beenie Man sank further into the depths of shameless commercialism—the lead-off single “Feel It Boy” featured Janet Jackson. But fate intervened with a near-fatal Hummer rollover that put the Doctor in the hospital with serious injuries. Beenie’s comeback album, appropriately titled Back To Basics, marked a return to the hardcore dancehall sound that made him a star in the first place. He remade “Slam” with Ms. Thing, scoring a massive hit (“Dude”). At the end of the album, he shows his spiritual side on “If A Neva God” and the acoustic “Back Against The Wall,” but it’s appropriate that the first official single was “King Of The Dancehall.”



Alpha Blondy


Alpha Blondy knows the meaning of struggle. He has experienced hard times in his personal life and as a citizen of the Ivory Coast. But having been a rebel for most of his life, he’s kept the fire burning that began attracting him an international audience shortly after release of his album Jah Glory in 1985.

Blondy has upheld his belief in reggae music as spiritual celebration and as a tool for human liberation. His impassioned lyrical outcries for justice have been sweetly balanced by gentler homilies and the occasional love song. He cradles his messages in some of the most addictive melody lines in reggae history and underlines them with visceral, rootsy drum and bass.

In his youth, he was drawn to the beacon of Bob Marley’s righteous music. Blondy arrived in New York City in 1976, where he soon made friends within the Jamaican community. He sang Marley’s songs at every opportunity in small clubs around New York, and soon had a repertoire of self-composed reggae tunes, written in his eccentric French-inflected English.

With the encouragement of budding Jamaican producer Clive Hunt, he began writing lyrics in his native tongue, Dioula, and in Ivory Coast Creole. The language, and Alpha’s very distinctive, quavering vocals, gave his songs the unmistakable lilt of West Africa.

After some time, Blondy returned home to Abidjan. After an altercation with a police officer, he spent time in a notorious mental hospital. Eventually he was freed, and won a nationally televised talent show and the opportunity to record. In his homeland, Blondy is today respected as an astute, acerbic political commentator. Never timid about speaking his mind, he’s had a lot to say during the recent political turmoil in the Ivory Coast, and some of his more incendiary songs have been banned from the airwaves.

Despite the turbulence, Blondy’s creative energy is unflagging. He says, “When you make a sword, you dip it many times in a liquid to make it hard. The Creator is dipping us again and again to make us stronger. Even though I complain, I’m not sad. I say, ‘Why me? Why not me?’ You have to accept he bad things in order to appreciate the good.”



Bob Marley


B

ob Marley remains the best-known name in reggae, even more than 20 years after his death. His real revolutionary stance and spirit helped make him an icon to most of the non-Western world.

Marley, along with Peter Tosh and Neville Livingston (later known as Bunny Wailer), made up the Wailers, who scored their first Jamaican hit in 1963, and kept going from there. Even before most of the world had heard of them, they were already major stars who’d gone through some serious musical growth, from the lovely “Stir It Up” through the more politically aware “Simmer Down,”

to the quantum leap of sound once they joined up with producer Lee Perry and his house band (who basically stayed with the Wailers permanently).

Many of Marley’s classic songs came from the fertile couple of years he worked with Perry. Having become a Rastafarian, his writing took a turn for the serious and conscious, with pieces like “Kaya,” “Small Axe” and “Duppy Conqueror.”

It wasn’t an easy jump to global success. The band signed with Island Records in 1973, and their sophisticated sound found sympathy with some rock fans on both sides of the Atlantic.

To many, Marley’s talent flowered fully after Tosh and Bunny Wailer quit the band. Certainly Natty Dread, the first album completely under his own name, was a classic. These were the songs that resounded around the Third World and made Marley into a hero. He was articulating the feelings of the downtrodden across the globe.

If he was a hero to many, at home he attained almost godlike status. He was perhaps the only man in Jamaica who could bring peace in the December 1976 general election, and that was what he tried to do. The night before his peace concert, however, he was the victim of an assassination attempt. The next day, his arm in his sling, he still speared onstage before leaving Jamaica for a year.

It would be 1979 before Marley made his most explicit public statement with Survival. “Africa Unite” and “Zimbabwe” showed he was thinking internationally, something few artists did, and the album was, at heart, a call to arms for Africa. He followed it in 1980 with a tour of Africa that cemented his legendary status there, and with Uprising, whose closing “Redemption Song” is still about a wonderful an epitaph as a man can hope to have.

Marley, of course, died of cancer in 1981, at the age of 36, in a life cut far too short. His legacy is still enormous.




Dennis Brown


F or a performer who only lived 42 years, Dennis Brown packed as much music into his life as he could. He seemingly hopped out of the cradle and onto Jamaican club stages; he also cranked out records at an unyielding pace. In the mid-’60s, he played West Kingston charity balls and banged on beer boxes with Byron Lee’s Dragonaires until the band’s leader made him a full-fledged member. He was nine.
His association with Lee brought him to the attention of the Falcons, who hired him as vocalist. A fortuitous gig at the Tit-for-Tat club caused Studio One impresario Coxsone Dodd to take notice of this confident, silky-voiced kid. In 1969, when Brown was 11, Dodd produced him delivering the Van Dykes’ soul hit “No Man Is An Island” and the subsequent album of the same name.

Certainly, to come of age in 1970s Jamaica meant voicing social and political injustices, and as Rastafarianism and dub were transforming what had been a music heavily informed by U.S. soul into a cultural force, Brown was right on time. The legendary Niney the Observer credits his beginnings as a producer to work on Brown’s 1973 “Westbound Train,” which borrowed from Al Green. Brown’s lyrics became increasingly message-oriented and Niney’s productions were stark, giving extra heft to such tunes as “Africa” and “Tribulation.” By the end of the ’70s, a monster hit for producer Joe Gibbs, “Money In My Pocket,” brought Gibbs added notoriety and led to Brown’s move to major label A&M in 1980.
Despite the deeper excursions with Niney, the gushing dreads and the politics, Brown was always a mainstream artist, and his inking with a U.S. label guaranteed him international stardom. He moved to London and continued to record and produce; his 1982 album, Love Has Found Its Way, with production assistance from Gibbs, brought him pop success on a level rarely achieved in all of reggae as the title track climbed U.S. R&B charts. By decade’s end, he had moved back to Jamaica, aimed his music at a younger market, sang duets with Gregory Isaacs and continued traveling the world.
Unfortunately, with stardom came a cocaine problem, something he denied repeatedly to the press. After touring in Brazil in 1999, he complained of chills and fatigue on the plane ride home. Within days he was dead. AIDS, pneumonia and the wears and tears of addiction have all been cited as possibilities; no one is certain, as there was no autopsy. Almost as much of a mystery is his recorded output, which is overwhelming in terms of sheer amount. One hundred albums is a safe estimate.



Augustus Pablo


O ne need look no further than Augustus Pablo when it comes to reggae music heaviness. In his deepest recordings from the 1970s lies the murky soul of Jamaican music. The riddims he dropped underneath his melodica and keyboard lines remain cornerstones of

groove, while he is also responsible for producing what is considered by many to be the greatest dub album of all time.

Pablo was born Horace Swaby in Jamaica in 1954. By his teens, he and his brother had established the Rockers sound system in their neighborhood of Havendale. As a result, the local record store, Aquarius, run by noted producer Herman Chin-Loy, became a haunt for Swaby’s record-buying excursions. As fate would have it, he strolled in with a melodica—a part recorder, part keyboard instrument made from cheap plastic—one day in 1971. Chin-Loy took Swaby into the studio and cut the instrumental “East Of The River Nile,” among other titles.

Chin-Loy, who had already been using the mysterious name Augustus Pablo, an imaginary figure often credited on his Aquarius productions, then turned the moniker over to Swaby.

By the mid-’70s, Pablo was digging into Jamaica’s subsoil and sifting out the most intense bottom end the island would ever hear. His productions were sharp and his melodic sense was unusual. He often used vocalists such as Hugh Mundell and Junior Delgado, and he utilized King Tubby’s studio for his “version” sides.

The 1976 LP King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown is recognized as the most fruitful result of this collaboration. While this is Pablo’s production and his keyboard work is all over it, Errol T. (Thompson) and Tubby’s mix help make this album dub’s defining moment. Vocals jump out for single echoed words before fading into the background or disappearing altogether, while reverb and odd phasings pull instruments in and out of the mix at unlikely moments, giving the bass the lead.

East Of The River Nile (1978), while not a dub album, was Pablo’s first self-produced instrumental set, and has also been recognized as the manifestation of the “Middle Eastern” overtones he’d explored with Chin-Loy.

While Pablo’s classic period will always be considered the ’70s, he continued to cut solid records into the ’90s. Always frail, Pablo was diabetic and sought treatment of Rasta healers rather than doctors. Longtime cancer suffering and a rare nerve disease

finally led to his demise in 1999.



Peter Tosh


I.’m like a stepping razor, don’t you watch my size, I’m dangerous!”
It’s ironic that the towering, six-foot-plus Peter Tosh had one of his biggest solo successes singing Joe Higgs’ anthem for vertically challenged rude boys, but the confrontational nature of “Stepping Razor” perfectly fit the man born Winston Hubert McIntosh in Jamaica in October 1944. In fact, one of this Wailing Wailers founder’s first solo recordings was “I’m The Toughest,” and years before dancehall’s gun talk, Tosh had a custom guitar that resembled an M-16 rifle. Over the years, his unflinchingly honest lyrics and fiery stage sermons earned him severe beatings at the hands of the police, but he never backed down

After the original Wailers went their separate ways in the early 1970s, Tosh signed on with Columbia Records and released what is arguably the best album of career, Legalize It. Though the pro-ganja title track was banned in Jamaica, the song was ubiquitous elsewhere and brought wide attention to Tosh. Tosh recorded just one more album for Columbia, the powerful Equal Rights, before signing on with the Rolling Stones’ custom label in the States. Bush Doctor, issued in 1978, featured Tosh’s duet with Mick Jagger on the Temptations’ old Motown song “(You Got To Walk And) Don’t Look Back.”

Following one more for Rolling Stones Records, Mystic Man, Tosh signed to EMI America, issuing Wanted Dread & Alive in 1981 and Mama Africa, his highest charting album in the U.S. (it included his hit cover of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”), two years later. Captured Live (1984) was his last album to display any real commercial potential in the States.

Peter Tosh was a musical revolutionary—he used words (“politricks,” “bureaucraps,” “shitstem”) as bullets in his unending struggle. His militant stance, thought-provoking lyrics, energetic stage presence and soulful baritone were immensely influential. At Jamaica’s 1978 One Love Peace Concert, Tosh gave an incendiary performance accompanied by defiant diatribes aimed at the politicians and policemen at the venue.

Tosh gave up recording for a few years to protest his record company’s distribution agreement with South Africa. Unfortunately, real bullets caught up with him at the age of 42. On September 11th, 1987, just after the release of No Nuclear War, three gunmen (one of whom he knew) came into his house demanding money. They left without taking anything, except the lives of a reggae giant and two of his friends.



APOLLO TEN

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: http://apollo-mp3.blogspot.com/

SEESPOT

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 www.myspace.com/seespot

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.



WEBSITE: www.gojimmygo.com

THE SLACKERS

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 understand...here 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. Aversion.com 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 Amazon.com 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.

Discography:

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)


Websites: www.theslackers.com www.myspace.com/theslackers

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.


website : www.pressurecooker.net

WESTBOUND TRAIN

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: www.westboundtrain.net

THE AGGROLITES

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: www.aggroreggae.com

Blog Archive

KING DJANGO


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

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.
 

Copyright © 2009 by Jamaican-Music Legends