February is officially reggae month in Jamaica, and things kicked off Friday with an Irie FM interview that featured Rita Marley outside of the Bob Marley Museum. A complete list of reggae month events is available online. Gatherings, lectures, and stage shows will continue throughout the month, including The Reggae Academy Awards showcase on February 23. Bob Marley birthday commemorations are also happening worldwide this month.
Sting is smiling. Spirits in the Material World: A Reggae Tribute to the Police (Shanachie) is in shops February 19. Police classics like “One World (Not Three),” “Invisible Sun,” and “So Lonely” are covered by Toots & The Maytals, The Wailing Souls, Horace Andy, Inner Circle, Junior Reid, and Lee "Scratch" Perry. Although the quality of the interpretations does vary, there are some killer moments, such as Tarrus Riley’s “King of Pain” rendition.
Reggae tours go full force this spring, with Wayne Wonder, Morgan Heritage, and Luciano performing around the U.S. Meanwhile, Bounty Killer and his Alliance crew will tour the U.K. in April, with Mavado, Baby Cham, Spice, Einstein, and Future Fambo rounding out the line-up. Jamaica’s sweetest singer, Sanchez, will do 30 dates in the U.S. this May and June, joined by supergroup LUST (Lukie D, Thriller U, Singing Melody, and Tony Curtis). Backed by the Chronic band, the tour includes dates in Chicago, Detroit, New York, Cape Cod, Hartford, North Carolina, and Miami.
OutARoad webzine’s Breakout Artist this month is Garrison Hawk. Hawk, pictured above, has worked with everyone from Shabba Ranks to the U.K.’s Tricky, and solidified a broad following in Europe and elsewhere.
Pon Di Wire has to send a big Bay Area bon voyage out to local DJ Stepwise, who is embarking on a six-month South American tour. Stepwise is founder of the Sunday night Holding Firm party in S.F., which will continue while he’s out of the country. Before his departure, Stepwise dropped a free mixtape hosted by Mr. Vegas!
The DubAndReggae social network is a place to meet reggae fans and artists, share video and photos, plus check out bands and blogs. The site also features up-to-the-minute news feeds, including a recent update on the Lucky Dube murder case.
Since video is where it's at for the now-time generation, sites like Muzik Media and WatchMi have popped up to fulfill viewers' needs. Two other video feeds recently debuted: France’s Full Roots' video pages feature mostly interviews with reggae legends like Pablo Moses, Cornell Campbell, and Bernard Collins; ReggaeVidz also features some great foundation footage, with artists like Bob Marley, Max Romeo, Ijahman Levi, and Jacob Miller. Crucial!
Catch dancehall artist Assassin’s current video, “Money Maker ft. Sadiki” (directed by Julia Brahman), on your local Caribbean cable channels BETJ Network, VMA Networks (Pulse TV and Bump Dat TV), and Tempo.
Pon Di Wire Recommended Live Shows
Saturday, February 23:Ragga Muffins Festival in San Francisco, featuring Alpha Blondy, Barrington Levy, Anthony B, Midnite, Gentleman, Gregory Isaacs, The Aggrolites, and Soul Majestic. 2 p.m. at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove St., San Francisco.
Wednesday March 12: Mad Professor & The Ariwa Posse at The Dub Club in L.A. With DJs Tom Chasteen, Roy Corduroy, Dungeonmaster, and Boss Harmony. 9 p.m. at Echoplex, 1154 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles.
Saturday March 15: Virgin Islands’ roots rulers Midnite. 9 p.m. at World Beat Center, 2100 Park Blvd., San Diego.