14 Eylül 2008 Pazar

Summerstage features seminal reggae film

Summerstage features seminal reggae film
I-Wayne lends support to screening
By Ben Apatoff/ BobMarley.com
The Harder They Come screening
Trevor Rhone, pictured above, wrote the script for "The Harder They Come" (Courtesy, Trevor Rhone)

More than 35 years after it was released in New York City, the classic film "The Harder They Come" will be shown as part of Central Park's Summerstage series. The event, which starts at 7pm on July 10, will be hosted by Dahved Levy and will feature a performance from roots reggae singer I-Wayne.

Unquestionably the most famous reggae film in history, "The Harder they Come" played a substantial role in bringing reggae into international prominence. The low budget movie, filmed in Jamaica, stars budding reggae star Jimmy Cliff as Ivanhoe Martin, an aspiring singer trying to survive in a violent neighborhood. Ivanhoe gets caught up with nefarious characters, signs away the rights to his songs and gets tangled in a life of crime in a compelling rise-and-fall story that continues to captivate audiences just as it did three decades ago. The film has been canonized with a Criterion Collection DVD reissue, and it is a must-see for film buffs and reggae fans alike.

The story of The Harder they Come is a classic gangster tale, inspired by both Jimmy Cliff's upbringing and 1940s Jamaican gangster Rhyging. But the film's most enduring aspect is the soundtrack, which features some of the best-known reggae songs in history. Jimmy Cliff's "You Can Get it if You Really Want," "Many Rivers to Cross" and the title track are now standards, and artists including Desmond Dekker and Toots & the Maytals also contributed some of their most popular songs. The Harder they Come was a primer on reggae for many of its initial viewers, and songs like "Pressure Drop" and "Rivers of Babylon" sound as fresh today as they did when reggae was just starting to reach American listeners.

Born in Portmore, Jamaica, I-Wayne was raised by a musical family and has been performing music for most of his life. In the past few years, he's emerged as one of the strongest new reggae artists in the world, charting with the songs "Living in Love" and "Can't Satisfy Her" from his debut major-label album, Lava Ground. I-Wayne's recently released follow-up, Book of Life, confirms his status as a hot new reggae talent, with thoughtful lyrics and a classic roots reggae sound.

The Harder they Come is presented in association with the African Film Festival. The film screening and I-Wayne performance are scheduled to run Thursday, July 10, from 7pm to 10pm, at Central Park Summerstage.

Peter Tosh: 'Legalize It'

Peter Tosh: 'Legalize It'
Pro-cannabis song endures as reggae anthem
By Ben Apatoff / BobMarley.com

One of a handful of artists who brought reggae music into America's consciousness, Peter Tosh's effect on the music world is incalculable. Between his early music with the Wailers and his solo career, Tosh's career is one of the most storied in reggae history. Tosh's contributions to Jamaican music are honored on the forthcoming Ziggy Marley in Jamaica album, which features one of Tosh's most popular songs, "Legalize It."

Born Winston Hubert McIntosh in 1944, Tosh grew into a towering rudeboy with a songwriting knack and guitar chops that were matched only by his confrontational attitude. At age 15, Tosh left his home in Grange Hill for Kingston, where he teamed up with Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer and a few more musicians who would make up the first incarnation of the Wailers. Following the breakthrough hit "Simmer Down," recorded for Coxsone Dodd's Studio One label, Tosh composed, sang and played guitar and melodica on several Wailers singles, including "I'm Going Home," "Hoot Nanny Hoot" and the aptly-titled "The Toughest." During Marley's brief hiatus from the Wailers in 1966, Tosh was the band's perceived leader, and even when Marley was in the Wailers, Tosh's input was an essential part of the band.

However, Tosh was unsatisfied sharing leadership in the Wailers, and he started pursuing a solo career in 1971. He re-recorded the Wailers' "Maga Dog" with producer Joe Gibbs, and by the end of the year Tosh had founded his own label, Intel Diplo HIM (Intelligent Diplomat for His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie). With the surging popularity of the Wailers, Tosh was increasingly unable to work on his solo projects, so he quit the band in 1974 and recorded his debut solo album,Legalize It, at the Treasure Isle Studio. The result was one of the strongest albums of Tosh's career and one of the best albums in reggae history, featuring a title track that became one of his most memorable singles.

Never one to be subtle, Tosh released Legalize It with a marijuana scented sticker and a cover photo of the singer smoking in a hemp field. But Tosh's pro-smoking views were best expressed in the song's lyrics. "Legalize it," sang Tosh with some female backup singers harmonizing that thought, "and I will advertise it." The song's easy-going beat and Tosh's commanding vocals made it a club and radio favorite, as well as a staple of Tosh's infamous live shows. To the aggravation of Jamaica's law enforcement, Tosh would often light up and smoke a spliff while performing "Legalize It," and many of his performances ended up with the reggae star being sent to jail.

Unlike other pro-ganja anthems, "Legalize It" made articulate, intelligent arguments in favor of legalizing marijuana. In the verses, Tosh reminded listeners that singers, doctors, nurses, judges and "even the lawyers too" smoked the herb. "It's good for the flu/It's good for asthma/Good for tuberculosis/Even umara composis," stated Tosh. Music fans have been scratching their heads over the last ailment's existence for decades, but there is no arguing that it is one of the most memorable couplets in reggae history.

Tosh's success as a solo artist could not quell his fiery attitude. Controversy followed him for the rest of his life, including severe beatings at the hands of the Jamaican police, a car accident that fractured his skull and killed his girlfriend, and subversive remarks about Prime Minister candidates Michael Manley and Edward Seaga at the One Love Peace Concert in 1978. But Tosh's career was not derailed, and he continued to release hit albums, collaborating with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards on 1978's Bush Doctor and winning a Grammy for 1987's No Nuclear War. That year, three armed affiliates of Tosh's broke into his Jamaica home in an attempted robbery. After several hours of a standoff, Tosh and disk jockey Jeff "Free I" Dixon were shot and killed. The murders ended the life of one of the best-loved figures in reggae, but they could not end the legacy of Tosh and "Legalize It."

Ziggy closes out Roots, Rock, Reggae '08

Ziggy closes out Roots, Rock, Reggae '08
Summer reggae tour a success for Marley brothers
By Ben Apatoff / BobMarley.com
Bob Marley Roots, Rock, Reggae Festival
Ziggy closes out at this summer's Roots, Rock, Reggae Festival.
At this summer's Bob Marley Roots, Rock, Reggae Festival, Ziggy, Stephen, Damian and Julian Marley honored their father by performing some of his best-known songs at sun-drenched shows on both coasts. The tour wrapped up August 9 in Del Mar California, with a live set from Ziggy, Bob's eldest son.

The festival's sole West Coast show took place at Del Mar Fairgrounds' famed betting track after the morning's races. Openers Common Sense provided a retro-sounding reggae vibe early in the evening, favoring the bass-heavy grooves and skanking beats that were prominent among roots reggae pioneers. Despite having no Marleys in the lineup, The Orange County Quintet's set proved their musical lineage to Bob and a strong roots reggae sensibility. Later, Julian and Ziggy Marley wrapped up the night's festivities with live sets of their own.

Julian Marley has been performing his father's music since the age of five, when he recorded "Slave Driver" at the Tuff Gong studios. Since then, Julian has honored his father's legacy by co-producing the Bob Marley remix albumChant Down Babylon with his brother Stephen and naming his backup band the Uprising, after one of his father's final studio albums. He has also recorded two versatile albums of original music, Lion in the Morning and A Time and Place, and co-founded Ghetto Youths International foundation with his brothers Ziggy, Stephen and Damian. Julian's performance at Roots, Rock, Reggae preceded a set from his famed collaborator and older brother, Ziggy Marley.

Perhaps the most high-profile of Bob's music-making children, Ziggy Marley has broke into the world's consciousness with the Melody Makers, the reggae group he founded with his siblings Stephen, Sharon and Cedella in the 1980s. More recently, he has recorded two popular solo albums (including the Grammy-winning Love is My Religion,) voiced a character in the in the CGI family movie Shark Tale and been recognized for his copious charity work, which includes founding the U.R.G.E. (Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment) charity for underprivileged children.

He has also been a prominent supporter of the Little Kids Rock nonprofit, which provides instruments and musical education to public school children. But Ziggy's best-known work remains musical in nature, as he showed in all of his contributions to this summer's festival.

The tour also made East Coast stops at Pier Six Pavilion in Baltimore, MD and at Wolf Trap Vienna, VA. Both events featured sets by Ziggy and Stephen, with special appearances by Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, Barrington Levy and SOJA.

"Seeing Ziggy, Stephen and Damian sing their father's songs was quite a humbling experience," offered Dawn Miceli and Drew Domkus of "The Dawn and Drew Show," a podcast that broadcasted live from the East Coast shows.

"For Ziggy's set, I think one of the highlights was listening to him play the drums on a couple of songs, and of course just hearing him sing is always a pleasure," they wrte in an email. "Stephen's highlights were watching his son on stage dancing and swinging a flag, and then having Damian and Ziggy join him on stage for a few songs...it was a very diverse and peaceful crowd with lots of Bob Marley t-shirts and plenty of people with dreadlocks in the audience. Hardly a song went by that didn't have the crowd joining in."

The duo also counted Ziggy's performances of his father's songs among the highlights, including concert-opener "Redemption Song," "Buffalo Soldier," "Three Little Birds" and of course, the Rastaman Vibration track that gave the festival its name, "Roots, Rock, Reggae."

Bob Marley's songs will undoubtedly be performed for generations to come by a diverse array of artists. But Marley's sons are among the most adept at delivering their father's music and message, and regardless of their history and family name, Ziggy, Julian, Stephen and Damian Marley are some of the world's finest reggae talents.

John Brown's Body honors Marley

John Brown's Body honors Marley
Cambridge reggae outfit covers 'Midnight Ravers'
By Ben Apatoff / BobMarley.com
John Brown's Body releases "Amplify" on September 30. (Photo, courtesy JBB)

 Listen to "Midnight Ravers"

By incorporating dub, alternative and electronic sounds into their roots-inspired reggae, it's clear from the first listen that John Brown's Body are not like most reggae bands.

A preview of Amplify, their forthcoming album due September 30 on Easy Star Records, shows the newly reconfigured band branching out their sound more than ever before.

"It's a real lush, thick record, it has a lot of different flavors," said drummer Tommy Benedetti, before his band's incendiary performance at the prominent Brooklyn venue Southpaw. "I think it's a real good balance of progressive, kind of cutting-edge drum and bass stuff with a combination of that roots flavor that people come to know and expect from JBB."

It's also a record that overcame a long, tumultuous journey to completion. In the three years since the band's last album, the critically acclaimed Pressure Points, singer Elliot Martin was temporarily detained by throat surgery, several band members split amicably and bassist Scott Palmer succumbed to cancer. Heeding Nietzsche's adage about what doesn't kill you, JBB soldiered on to record one of their finest albums to date.

"The band's gone through a lot, some of it very tragic and some of it very necessary and inevitable," recalls Benedetti. "Right now the band is really focused, we're having a lot of fun touring together, and I think that shows in the music and comes across onstage more than ever."

And he's right: John Brown's Body are an incomparable live act. The technical wizardry that graces their studio albums translates into a funk-inspired powerhouse onstage, with a high-mixed low end and a dynamic horn section that contrasts with Martin's controlled yet affecting vocals.

As might be expected from a band named after a Civil War-era abolitionist and revolutionary, much of their music has a political tone that hearkens back to the pioneer reggae artists in the 1970s. While showing an obvious appreciation of reggae's greatest artists, JBB are indisputably forging their own path in the reggae world.

"There's a lot of baggage that goes along with reggae," acknowledges Benedetti. "The stereotypes are many: sitting on the beach, drinking fruity cocktails...that's never the kind of vibe I got into with reggae. I was always into the really conscious, heavy, political, minor key stuff, like Burning Spear and the Abbyssinians, and that's the stuff that got me really interested in it. Every music has their stereotypes and people try to put a box around it these days, and my job as a musician is to get outside of that."

Despite all their innovations, John Brown's Body shares one thing with every other reggae band-a huge influence from the music and ideals of Bob Marley and the Wailers. The New England-area octet recently expressed their admiration by recording their own version of "Midnight Ravers," a call-to-arms song best known for closing the original release of Marley's major-label debut, Catch a Fire.

"We've always loved that tune, and thought it really fit the vibe of the band and where we're at right now," says Benedetti about "Midnight Ravers." "It's an honor to play that song and we tried to do it justice. The whole point was to not make it sound like the original version at all."

JBB added rocksteady horns, busier drumming and some studio effects to Marley's melody, putting their own stamp on the composition while maintaining the sense of urgency in the original version. "When I hear it I think of armies rolling over mountains, trying to invade, crush and destroy," states Benedetti, signifying the song's relevance to his band and to current world affairs.

When asked to name some more of his favorite Marley songs, it becomes clear that Benedetti's Marley knowledge runs far beyond "Midnight Ravers." "The guy never wrote a bad song, that's a tough question," states Benedetti, before citing the Rastaman Vibration album and early songs like "Long, Long Winter" and "Redder than Red" among his favorites.

John Brown's Body are scheduled to kick off a nationwide tour on September 26 in Nevada. With their stellar new album and invigorated new lineup, one of the strongest reggae bands in America is still a can't-miss act this fall.

Bob Marley statue unveiled in Europe

Bob Marley statue unveiled in Europe
Serbian memorial promotes peace
By Ben Apatoff/ BobMarley.com
Bob Marley statue
The new statue in Serbia stands at 6'5" (Srdjan Ilic/AP photo)
He's been honored with museums, documentary films, benefit concerts, tribute albums and reverence as one of the 20th century's greatest cultural icons. Now Bob Marley is being lionized with a new statue, recently erected in the south-east Serbian town of Banatski Sokolac.

BBC News reports that the statue was uncovered just after 12am on August 24 during a ceremony with musicians from Central Europe. The statue's creator, Croatian sculptor Davor Dukic, was also present, along with hundreds of fans paying their respects. The event's organizers claim that this is the first European statue to pay tribute the reggae legend, who is being honored for having "promoted peace and tolerance in his music."

The statue, which stands at 6'5", depicts Marley clenching his right fist and holding a guitar. An inscription on the monument reads, "Bob Marley -- fighter for freedom armed with a guitar."

Serbia and its surrounding countries in the Balkan region have previously built statues of several other contemporary figures in popular culture. Other figures to be recently honored with statues include actors Bruce Lee, Johnny Weissmuller as "Tarzan" and Sylvester Stallone as "Rocky Balboa."Europe News reports that Marley was chosen over '60s-era rock stars Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison to be memorialized with a statue.

Bob Marley's greatest achievements may be in his music, but his social consciousness and political integrity are equally vital to his legacy. The newest tribute to his accomplishments reminds us all that a civilian with humble beginnings can affect the world as profoundly as any general, politician or businessman.

The Upsetter offers 'Repentance' Bob Marley

The Upsetter offers 'Repentance'
Former Marley producer returns with new album
By Ben Apatoff / BobMarley.com
Lee "Scratch" Perry
The Upsetter's new album, "Repentance" is being touted as one of his best. (Photo courtesy, Lee "Scratch" Perry)
In the early 1970s, renowned producer Lee "Scratch" Perry and rising reggae stars the Wailers collaborated on a series of recordings for Perry's Black Ark Studio. Enlisting Carlton and Aston "Family Man" Barrett from his house band the Upsetters, Perry oversaw the recording of Bob Marley songs like "Soul Rebel," "Small Axe" and "Duppy Conqueror" shortly before Marley and the Wailers rocketed into international stardom.

Decades later, Perry is as prolific, eccentric and innovative as ever. Now 72, the diminutive, brightly-garbed producer is one of the most recognized and respected figures in reggae history, having recorded with Junior Murvin, the Heptones and many others in addition to his solo career, which is considered pivotal to the foundation of dub music.

In the past few years, Perry has toured extensively, won the "Best Reggae Album" Grammy for 2002's Jamaican E.T. and been honored on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" list. In spite of these accolades, the tireless music legend refuses to rest on his laurels, and his current projects are among his most exciting ventures to date.

The dub pioneer's newest studio album, Repentance, was released August 19 on Narnack Records, and has already unleashed a summer hit in the form of sexy club jam "Pum Pum." The rest of the album, including the spacey opening track "Shine," shows him exercising his versatility and creativity in a new batch of songs that continue the long, bizarre odyssey of Lee "Scratch" Perry.

Featuring guest appearances from Moby, Blondie's Chris Stein and Lightning Bolt's Brian Chippendale, Repentance is a particularly high-profile album for Perry. Perhaps the album's most unlikely contribution comes from Andrew W.K., the hard rock hero more famous for party-metal anthems than dub reggae. "I interviewed (Perry) for direct TV in Austin and I was blown away by him," Andrew recalled. "I told the record label that I'd really like to work with him...They called me back and said 'Would you like to produce the album?'"

It sounds crazy, but the improbable is often realized in Lee "Scratch" Perry's music. Thus the New York-based rocker leapt at the chance to co-produce Repentance, despite being previously unfamiliar with much of Perry's music. "I felt a little intimidated because I didn't have a lot of background info on him," Andrew said. "You didn't need to know anything about this guy to feel his creative force. There's no one else like him in any way shape or form."

Co-helming an album with one of the most storied producers in history is a daunting task, but Perry's unconventional yet efficient work methods helped the sessions run successfully. "Lee is so advanced as a musician, an artist and a human being that I think he manipulates in a way that magically creates what he's looking for," continued Andrew. "If he's looking for someone to make an album, he will be created."

In his journey to demolish the space between the artist and the art itself, it's clear that Lee "Scratch" Perry takes his associates along for the ride. Repentance captures Perry as the creative achievement himself, perhaps best described by Andrew W.K. "His life is a creative statement," says Andrew of Perry. "His day to day existence is an artistic effort."

22 Ağustos 2008 Cuma