Apr 18, 2019 Latest Reggae News
Contact: Peter Wardle, Kings Music International
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Fri May 31 – Pacifica, CA – The Longboard
Sat June 1 – Santa Maria, CA – Presqu’ile Winery
Sun June 2 – Sacramento, CA – Harlow’s
Mon June 3 – Sebastopol, CA – Hop Monk Tavern
Wed June 5 – Arcata, CA – Humboldt Brews
Thurs June 6 – Santa Cruz, CA – Moe’s Alley
Fri June 7 – Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up
Sat June 8 – Las Vegas, NV – Reggae in the Desert
Sun June 9 – Newport Beach, CA – Newport Dunes
Fri June 14 – Salida, CO – Fibark Whitewater and Music Fest
Sat June 15 – Denver, CO – Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox
Mon June 17 – Aspen, CO – Belly Up
Thurs June 20 – Portland, OR – Star Theatre
Fri June 21 – Boise, ID – World Village Festival
Sat June 22 – Tulsa, OK – Caribbean Vibes Festival
Get Tix Here
Sun June 23 – Seattle, WA – Nectar Lounge
Tues June 25 – Chicago, IL – Old Town School of Folk Music
Wed June 26 – Cleveland Heights, OH – Grog Shop
Thurs June 27 – Cincinnati, OH – Riverfront Live
Fri June 28 – Philadelphia, PA – Warehouse on Watts
Sat June 29 – Ithica, NY – Ithica Reggae Fest
Sun June 30 – New York, NY – Sony Hall
Mon July 1 – Waterbury Center, VT – ZenBarn
Tues July 2 – Boston, MA – La Fabrica
Wed July 3 – New Haven, CT – Toads Place
Outside of the music of Bob Marley and the Wailers (and the subsequent solo efforts of Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer) which brought reggae music to all corners of the globe and ensured its enduring legacy, in my book the most influential band in reggae history was the Black Uhuru line-up that existed between 1979 and 1984. Along with “Duckie” Simpson and “Puma” Jones, the group featured singer and front man Mykal Rose and Jamaica’s premier drum and bass rhythm section, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare. During this period they released the following records:
1979 – Showcase (later added the single “Shine Eye Gal” and was retrospectively titled Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner)
1980 – Sinsemilla
1981 – Red
1982 – Chill Out
1984 – Anthem (Awarded the inaugural Grammy for Best Reggae Recording)
As I listen back to my favorite recordings, there seems to be a clear moment that marked a major shift in the direction of reggae: the 1979 release of what would later become Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Until then, the music coming out of Jamaica had been dominated by songs written in major keys. You can hear this in the most popular rock steady and reggae grooves produced by the Kingston Studios which were often recycled in many different versions: the Winston Riley’s collaboration with Ansel Collins called “Stalag” that most famously became “Ring the Alarm” by Tenor Saw, Sound Dimension’s Full Up (with Jackie Mittoo) that became “Pass the Dutchie” Musical Youth, The Soul Vendors (also with Mittoo) track that became Barrington Levi’s “Murderer,” Eric Donaldson’s “Cherry Oh Baby” etc.
This tendency towards major keys was also reflected in the biggest bands of the day and their primary hits. For example, “Pressure Drop” by Toots and the Maytals, “The Harder They Come” by Jimmy Cliff, “Equal Rights” and “Legalize It” by Peter Tosh, “Two Sevens Clash” by Culture, “Tenement Yard” by Jacob Miller, and many of the catchiest, radio friendly Bob Marley songs feature a major key, melodically driven sound.
There were exceptions to this, of course. A significant portion of the Marley songs are in minor keys, but there is a distinct signature to these songs which is the melodic bass playing of “Family Man” Barrett. As a general rule, the music was shaped around the vocal melody line.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is cut from a different cloth. The sledgehammer, resonating minor key basslines of Robbie Shakespeare and the masterful minimalist drumming of Sly Dunbar dominate the soundscape. Staccato skanks and textural licks complement the heavy grooves. The liberal use of assorted reverbs and delays are reminiscent of a classic dub record. Of course, the music is punctuated by the lead vocals of the great Mykal Rose, and backing vocals, harmonies, and shading by the incomparable Ms. “Puma” Jones (RIP Puma).
Together this forms a hypnotic sound that carries thematically throughout the record. If you are looking for a starting point to appreciate the music of Black Uhuru, a full listen of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, in a relaxed atmosphere and through a sound system that can handle the low end, is an appropriate starting point.
From there, the music of the band evolves. The two primary components in this evolution are:
a) A shift in the approach employed by Mr. Shakespeare: As loud and soft, full and sparse, come to delineate verses and choruses of Nirvana songs, the changes in Black Uhuru are often defined by contrasting bass styles. A flurry of 16th notes, juxtaposed against spacier combinations is a frequent pattern. (This style is hinted at in “General Penitentiary” from Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, included in the playlist)
b) More layers of complimentary textural sounds. The integrity of the drum and bass is maintained by keeping these sounds simple and sparse, but yet they appear more prominently in the mix and lend themselves well to the more upbeat grooves on the later records.
For me, Red and Chill Out are the pinnacle of this style, and these records are among the high points in the history of reggae music.
Perhaps, a full listen to Chill Out, after Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, is a good way to appreciate the whole gamut of this magical period. In addition, I have created a playlist comprised of a sampling of my favorite Black Uhuru tracks from 1979-1982. Enjoy!
This new minor key, drum and bass heavy sound, came to dominate reggae in the 1980’s. Not only can you hear it in Black Uhuru and other artists / hits backed by Sly and Robbie like The Tamlins remake of “Baltimore,” Dennis Brown’s “Revolution”, or Ini Kamoze’s “World-A-Music” (later Damien Marley’s “Welcome to Jamrock”) but it also surfaces in the music of others. The most notable competing rhythm section of the time, The Roots Radics, adopted a very similar approach (minor grooves driven by D&B).
It would be almost impossible for me to list all of the records that Sly and Robbie appeared on or to overstate their influence. These two lists of their credits are incomplete, but at least these will give you an idea of the magnitude of their contributions:
Among these, a list of my “A-list” favorites (records to bring to a desert island):
Equal Rights / Peter Tosh
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Red, Chill Out / Black Uhuru
Ini Kamoze / Ini Kamoze
An interesting musical footnote is the role that Sly and Robbie played in fusing the genres of Reggae and Hip-hop. In 1989, KRS-ONE and Boogie Down Productions included two reggae influenced tracks “World Peace” and “Jah Rulez” on their epic 1989 release Ghetto Music: the Blueprint of Hip Hop. KRS-ONE followed that up with a collaboration with Sly and Robbie and a stable of hip hop artists entitled Silent Assassin that blurred the boundaries of the two genres. “Party Together” with KRS-ONE on the mic is one of several excellent tracks off of that album. Written by Dan Murphy
MYKAL ROSE with SLY & ROBBIE and REGGAE ANGELS touring the US in May, June & July – headlining four festivals.
Sly Dunbar (drums) and Robbie Shakespeare (bass), the arrangers, producers, songwriters, session musicians and developers of raw talent, are widely acknowledged as ‘the world’s greatest rhythm section’. ‘The Riddim Twins’ have been together for 40 years….between them they are estimated to have played on or produced over 200,000 recordings. Their list of collaborators is a veritable who’s who. There is every prominent Jamaican artist from Beenie Man to Sean Paul to Peter Tosh, Don Carlos, Michael Rose, Junior Reid, Shaggy, Cherine Anderson, Bitty Mclean, Black Uhuru, Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown and Ini Kamozeand. They have played with and produced artists such as Ben Harper, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones, Grace Jones, Paul McCartney, Carlos Santana, Sinéad O’Connor, Britney Spears, Alicia Keys, UB40’s Al Campbell, Joe Cocker, No Doubt, the Fugees, Michael Franti and countless others.
For over 30 years, Mykal Rose has been recording and performing his brand of militant, hardcore Jamaican reggae to the delight of fans and music lovers around the world. Worldwide, Mykal Rose and Sly & Robbie are household names. Mykal is an exceptionally talented vocalist and performer. He has an original style and sound that was quickly embraced worldwide. Mykal Rose is the favored voice of Black Uhuru, with his Waterhouse slurs, effective songwriting, militant dancing and vocals.
Perhaps Mykal’s highest profile recognition came in 1984, when he and the other Black Uhuru members (Duckie Simpson, Puma Jones, Sly Dunbar, and Robbie Shakespeare) won reggae’s first Grammy award for the album, Anthem. Black Ukuru with Mykal Rose and Sly & Robbie became the best-known reggae act since Bob Marley. Even today, Island continues to capitalize on the group’s success by re-compiling and re-releasing the group’s Island years material.
Sly and Robbie, affectionately known as the Riddim Twins, are perhaps the premiere architects of the modern sound of Jamaican music. Building on the cornerstones of Studio 1 and other early pioneers of the Jamaican recording industry, Sly and Robbie became the driving force behind the fabled Channel 1 sound that dominated reggae throughout the late 70’s and early 80’s. Subsequent work, most notably with Peter Tosh and Black Uhuru, set the pace for the changing sound of reggae in the post-Bob Marley era.
Sly and Robbie have an extensive tour history on the world stage. Their group the Taxi Gang includes a horn section and features an ultimate lineup of top Jamaican recording musicians. Sly & Robbie and the Taxi Gang have recently been top performers on the Tribute to the Legends, the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, Reggae in the Desert, Reggae on the Mountain, Reggae on the River and the Jamrock Reggae Cruise in the US. They regularly tour North America, Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia and China. When Sly and Robbie and the Taxi Gang perform live, their music is far outside of the box – jazz Reggae – very courageous and experimental. Theirs is reggae music at its highest heights.
Mykal Rose has recently released a lot of new music. His latest album released in 2018 is called Healing of the Nations. This project was produced in California. The album before that is called Tragedy of Rome. Tragedy of Rome was produced in Europe. The album before that released in 2016 was called Rasta State. Also released in 2016 was the album Sidewalk Steppa produced by Foreign Key Records. A single of Sidewalk Steppa,was also released at the same time. He also put out another popular single in collaboration with Melloquence and Cutty Ranks called Hot Water. Hot Water was produced by Pascal who is based in Germany. He released a single collaboration with Al Barose called Want the Herb. Mykal Rose has been very prolific in recent years.
July 2017 Mykal Rose headlined Reggae On The Mountain in Los Angeles backed by the legendary Sly and Robbie. Early September, 2017 Mykal Rose with Sly & Robbie headlined a major international festival in Argentina. December 2018 they headlined the Jamrock Reggae Cruise. They give their audiences the true favored original Black Uhuru sound. Mykal Rose continues to headline many of the best reggae festivals in the world and he has been touring North and South America and Europe steadily.
Mykal’s story doesn’t begin with Black Uhuru. In 1976, Michael Rose was already a seasoned performer, having honed his skills by performing on Jamaica’s hotel circuit. When an early incarnation of Black Uhuru (Ducky Simpson and Errol Nelson) approached Michael to join the group, he already had several solo singles to his credit. These include the original “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” and “Clap the Barber,” both recorded for producer Niney The Observer, and “Running Around” for Winston Campbell.
Black Uhuru’s first full length album was released in 1977 and called Love Crisis. This was produced by King Jammy (then Prince Jammy), and the big hit of the album was “I Love King Selassie.” But it was not until the Showcase album was released in 1980 with a new lineup of Michael Rose, Duckie Simpson, and Puma Jones that Black Uhuru reached their creative peak. Heartbeat reissued the set on CD (Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, HB 18), which includes the massive 12″ singles “Shine Eye Gal,” “General Penitentiary,” “Plastic Smile,” and “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.” At the forefront of the recordings and live shows was the charismatic Mykal Rose who had incredible stage presence and a vocal style all his own. So popular was Mykal Rose’s trademark sound that singers like Don Carlos, Junior Reid, Yami Bolo and others also embraced the style which is called the “Waterhouse” sound.
Throughout the first half of the 1980s, Black Uhuru continued their success with albums on Island Records – Sinsemilla, Red, Chill Out, and Anthem, along with compilations, dub albums, and live albums. They became the best-known reggae act since Bob Marley, and won the first reggae Grammy for Anthem in 1984. Even today, Island continues to capitalize on the group’s success by re-compiling and re-releasing the group’s Island years material.
With lead singer Mykal Rose seemingly at the top of his game, he parted ways with Black Uhuru, with the intention of redefining his musical direction as a solo artist. In the early 1990s, Mykal Rose appeared on the scene with new material including Jamaican singles produced by Sly & Robbie (“Monkey Business,” “Visit Them,” “One a We Two a We”), and three albums (Proud, Bonanza, and King of General) released in Japan.
As a solo artist, Mykal regularly tours the world and he has maintained his Jamaican fan base with hit singles on the island and abroad. Mykal is a modern roots singer who fits perfectly into the modern scene. His recent video remake of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner with Taurus Riley has gone viral. With a glorious past and a wide-open future, Mykal Rose is truly a reggae superstar.
Opening the show, this is slated to be the fifth US tour the Reggae Angels have done backed by Sly & Robbie. Their last two albums were recorded with Sly and Robbie and the Taxi Gang. The Reggae Angels are a world class roots reggae act based in the San Francisco east bay area with a large music catalog of fourteen CD’s. Their latest album Rely On Him was released in October, 2017. The Reggae Angels have been recording and performing conscious roots reggae for over two decades. In February 2019 they completed their forth US tour with Sly & Robbie & the Taxi Gang.
Their latest album Rely On Him is prophetic message music from the Reggae Angels in collaboration with the multi-Grammy award winning legends Sly and Robbie on bass and drums and the Taxi Gang crew featuring Franklyn ‘Bubbler’ Waul on keyboards and the late Ronald “Nambo” Robinson on trombone. Also featured on the album are Addis Pablo, Augustus Pablo’s son, on melodica, Dwight Pinkney on guitar and Daniel Casares on alto and tenor sax. The previous Reggae Angels album, The Waywas also backed by Sly and Robbie and the Taxi Gang. There are also 12 track dub CD’s with each of these albums called Fox Dubs Taxi Gang. Rely On Him and The Way were recorded by Fenton and Garfield McDonald in Fenton’s recording studio in Oakland, CA called the Workshop. They were mixed and mastered by the world-renown engineer Jim Fox at the Lion and Fox recording Studio in Washington DC. Both of these albums are distributed by Zojak Worldwide and available for purchase on iTunes and a variety of other major online retailers. Physical copies are also available through a variety of traditional retailers.
Rely On Him brings the Reggae Angels catalog from strength to strength. It fires up the listener with its words and music – guidance for themselves and others towards righteous living.
The Reggae Angels have performed on many US festivals including Reggae in the Hills, The Oroville Rock Reggae Jamfest, Reggae on the River, The Trinity River Jamboree, The Bay Area Vibez Festival, The One Love One Heart Reggae festival, The Northwest World Reggae Fest, The Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, The Seattle International Reggae Festival, Reggae in the Desert in Las Vegas, The Wild Mountain Fair, The Pitzer Reggae Festival and The World One Festival in El Cerrito, CA as well as also performing on many of the major European festivals.
In November 2017 the Reggae Angels did a western US tour with the Abyssinians. In September / October 2016 they toured backed by Sly and Robbie and the Taxi Gang. The Reggae Angels have toured the US, Hawaii, Canada, South America, Europe and Africa. They have done many national and international tours opening and co-billing with conscious Jamaican roots reggae acts such as Mykal Rose, Sly & Robbie, Prezident Brown, Andrew Tosh, Everton Blender, Don Carlos, Anthony B, Junior Reid, The Abyssinians, Sugar Minott, Warrior King and Frankie Paul as well as touring on their own.
The Reggae Angels live performance is well established from years of performing in diverse places. They do dynamic high-energy shows with a happy, uplifting sound. Their musicians are world class and their message speaks of God conscious, God centric living.