Pon Di Wire
I can hear crickets, but that doesn’t mean all is quiet, especially when we’re talking about the International Cricket World Cup, which kicked off in Kingston, Jamaica. Concerts galore will greet guests, like the One Love event held Saturday March 10 in Water Square, Falmouth. Sanchez, Shaggy, Lucky Dube, and Richie Stephens are among the stars entertaining the international bowlers and batters in the audience.
This breach-of-contract hoopla may not yet be officially settled, but at least one party is pretending it is, with the annual Reggae on the River showcase moving forward as planned. Those performing include The Roots, The Itals, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Lutan Fyah, Norrisman, Little Hero, and Wailing Souls, among more to be added. Rival event Reggae Rising features an equally stunning lineup of Morgan Heritage, Sly & Robbie, Horace Andy, Anthony B, and Heavyweight Dub Champion. Such compelling competition may leave fans scratching their dreads and wondering how a reggae concert in one of the world’s most beautiful locales, with legendary “hi-grade,” could be reduced to such acrimony and bitter feelings.
Big albums galore are out and forthcoming from Greensleeves. Chuck Fender’s debut for the label, The Living Fire, is out on March 26, featuring hits “Gash Dem,” “Freedom of Speech,” and the future smash “Mother Earth.” Meanwhile, prolific singjay Anthony B’s latest, Higher Meditation, is out, with production by Maximum Sound’s Frenchie. Finally, “The Energy God” himself, Elephant Man, whose new album for Bad Boy is due out any day, tramples us with a greatest hits package, the first release for Greensleeves’ new Monsters of Dancehall series.
If you know your Jamaican patois, then you know it’s all about “eee,” seen? An inflection used to denote emphasis, surprise, or approval, as in, ”Don’t I look great in my new Marc Jacobs jeans-eee?” The inflection is also attached to words or used at random. So no surprise that the big street dancers Weddy Wednesdays and Blazay Blazay are host to a number of competitions as a part of Magnum’s Cash-een-Now promotion.
The new video for the song “Rude Boy Warning”, by classic Jamaican toaster Big Youth’s son Tafari, is a gansta mini-movie of sorts. No wonder he’s landed three songs in the upcoming John Singleton movie Illegal Tender.
Pon Di Wire
The Jimi Hendrix of reggae and Bob Marley & the Wailers’ lead guitarist Junior Marvin (pictured top left) drops his new album in 2007. The axeman, known for his searing, bombastic guitar solos, will again electrify our ears with roots rockers like “Mister Preacher Man” and the Marley tribute album title track, “Life Without You.”
Speaking of rockers, Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood (pictured top right) has assembled a new compilation for Trojan Records. The not-so-modestly-named Johnny Greenwood Is The Controller was released on Tuesday, and features classic roots material from The Heptones, Lee Perry, and Linval Thompson. Meanwhile, Trojan celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, promising that, “2007 will see figures from the world of rock, dance, and hip-hop take the wheel in the journey through reggae history…”
Vote for your favorite artist to win at the 26th Annual International Reggae & World Music Awards (IRAWMA), held on Saturday, May 5, at the world famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York (235 W. 125th st.). Online voting continues through April 20.
Wanna listen to tracks before you purchase them? Preview multiple new reggae releases for free at Jammin Reggae Archives.
The squabbles between competing dancehall deejays this year have made college hoops rivalries like that of Duke versus North Carolina or UCLA versus USC look positively tame. However, it’s good that “enemies” like Vybz Kartel and Mavado can find ways to work things out.
These days, quality one-drop roots riddims can come from almost anywhere, including Europe. Germans, Swiss, and Scandinavians of all stripes have jumped into reggae production, collaborating with local musicians and recording tracks with session bands in Jamaica. One such transatlantic partnership has produced The Bodo rhythm set (featuring singles from Sizzla, Coco Tea, and Capleton) arranged by Hamburg-based Andreas 'Brother Man' Christopherson and released via Jamaica’s respected In The Streetz distribution. Brotherman is owner of Minor7Flat5 Records, whose catalog includes excellent albums by Turbulence, Tony Tuff, and Anthony B.