Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Bonner Brothers Bond

In the world of reggae music, few families rival the Bonner brothers in international music success.
Recently, The Gleaner caught up with the brothers, which includes Richie Spice (Richell Bonner), to talk about their various life challenges, their thoughts on music's current state and their upcoming projects.
Richie Spice's musical talents were kept quiet until his smash hit Earth A Run Red was released in November 2004 on Fifth Element Records. He has so far enjoyed most of the individual success compared to his brothers, but was very humble when reflecting on his accomplishments.
Pliers, born Everton, was a recognised act during the late 1980s, but earned international attention when he teamed with Chaka Demus in the early 1990s, their most popular production being Murder She Wrote.
The duo was the first Jamaican act to have three consecutive top five hits on the UK Singles Chart, which was surpassed by Shaggy when he recorded four number ones during 2001.
Successful studio effort
Spanner Banner, christened as Joseph, is now promoting his new album I'm A Winner, which comes eight years after his last studio effort. He has experienced a balanced music career and got his first major recognition from the single Life Goes On, which was produced by Winston Riley. Later, he had his most successful studio effort in the form of What We Need Is Love.
The eldest, Jah Mikes, born Michael, takes on the managerial role, and is the catalyst of Bonner Cornerstone Music, which was formed in 1995. One of his greatest achievements was pioneering Richie Spice's career, making it an irresistible force to be reckoned with.
Glenroy Bonner, performing as Snatcha Lion, recognises the challenge ahead of being the youngest one coming up from the musical family. He, however, believes his new singles No War, Creation, and Love Boat will leave an indelible impression on its listeners.
All of the Bonner brothers grew up with parents Violet and Ivan in Rock Hall, St Andrew, and have a shared passion for reggae music.
"I feel really good to know all my brothers are involved in music," said Pliers, who spoke to The Gleaner via telephone as he was on a European tour with Chaka Demus. "I encourage and help them along the way. It seems that we have carried on well the music tradition in our family."
Transitional phase
While the Bonner family may be OK musically, the music, they believe, is going through a transitional phase, particularly with the local dominance of dancehall.
"The reggae message can't die. It's a creativity that comes from the Almighty God. The thing is that if there is a popular style, most young artistes might take on to it," said Spanner Banner.
"Reggae music is more creative and it's not so much about the beat as in other genres. The messages have to be strong," he said.
Richie Spice sided with Spanner Banner's theory, saying that more people are latching on to what's popular.
He, however, believes that upcoming reggae artistes lack opportunity and said that an effective body, which would serve as a nurturing school for young talents, is something the music industry must focus on.
"Music is a teaching tool and youngsters listen to it. More opportunities are needed for these artistes to explore because there are a lot of young artistes out there," said Richie Spice, who is currently working on a 12-track album with Penthouse's Donovan Germaine, set to be released by VP Records.
Richie Spice also said he believes some of the content in dancehall music was contributing negatively to society.
Current leaders
Although the current pace is being set by dancehall artistes locally, Richie Spice said that it is overseas where reggae has flourished.
"People are recognising and accepting reggae music more. It's a music with a positive force and it represents life to the fullest. Dancehall music is a lot different," he pointed out.
Throughout the interview, a very quiet Snatcha Lion sat and observed, but when asked what fans can expect of him, he had a confident response.
Snatcha Lion is a singjay who delivers his message with a hard-core edge. He said all his brothers have chipped in with advice and he made it clear that he's coming with his own style.
"Due to the road they took, I'm inspired by that. It wasn't no violence. I respect that and that even influence me to be more stronger in myself," he said.
"I began loving the music from school days when me used to go concerts, plus I have always had a love for artistes and the music. I get a lot of courage from Spanner, Pliers and Richie, but it's something (music) I wanted to do in my head from a long time. Plus, I'm coming with my own style."
Spanner Banner, who recently returned from a US tour promoting I'm a Winner, leaned back and recalled the years when they grew up in humble circumstances, and oftentimes witnessed his parents working very hard to provide the necessities. That, he said, created a bond among the siblings, which they have carried over into adulthood. There were times when they didn't see eye to eye, but that's something they were keen on not perpetuating.
"I grew up in a home where mother and father and 11 of us in one room. People will have their little differences at times but that was sorted out easily. We grew up with brotherly love and that has carried over in our adult lives," said Spanner Banner, who is in talks with Motown for the distribution of I'm A Winner.
It was refreshing to see the love and respect they shared for each other. Success, for many, breeds negativity and, unfortunately, it corrupts some. But the Bonner brothers continue to exercise humility and mutual respect in whatever they do.
"We work in togetherness as brothers. It's a joy to know that we can come together and play music for the people out there and do it in a form of vibration where we are not jealous of each other," said Richie Spice. -The Gleaner

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Essential Reggae Albums: Gregory Isaacs 'Night Nurse'

One of Isaacs' most popular and enjoyable releases, 1982's Night Nurse sports the kind of slicked-up roots sound that emerged in the early days of dancehall-era reggae. In addition to effortlessly delivering the same smooth, "lonely lover" vocals that graced his many successful sides from the '70s, Isaacs, along with bassist "Flabba" Holt, also produced the eight high-quality tracks here. Showing his secular, dancehall-minded hand, Isaacs works magic on the classic lovers rock titles "Night Nurse," "Objection Overruled," and "Cool Down the Pace." The singer is in his best and most vulnerable lovers mode, though, on outsider themes like "Stranger in Town" and "Sad to Know (You're Leaving)." And as was his way — and many other of his contemporaries for that matter (Dennis Brown, Frankie Paul, etc.) — Isaacs mixes his concerns with the flesh with those of a more spiritual nature, coming up here with two of his finest Rasta-cultural themes in "Material Man" and "Hot Stepper." Isaacs once again utilizes the incredible talents of the Roots Radics band (the favored early-'80s Jamaican studio outfit), which includes Holt on bass, Eric "Bingy Bunny" Lamont on rhythm guitar, "Style" Scott on drums, and Wycliffe "Steelie" Johnson on keyboards. With a crossover hit in their sights, Mango also brought in funk synthesizer player Wally Badarou to liven things up. Along with other fine Isaacs titles like Cool Ruler and More Gregory, Night Nurse is essential listening for reggae fans.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Black Seeds: 'Take Your Chances' Video

The brand new video for 'Take Your Chances' from The Black Seeds.

In other news regarding The Black Seeds, there were two very positive reviews of Solid Ground this past week on Jambase and We at Easy Star are particularly proud of this quote: "Here’s where I’m at as of this point in 2009: Easy Star has two of the year’s best reggae releases to their credit – their in-house Lonely Hearts Dub Band project (by the Easy Star All-Stars) and The Black Seeds’ Solid Ground. The former will make you feel good; the latter will make you feel good...and make you feel."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Essential Reggae Albums: Garnett Silk 'It's Growing'

Only one Garnett Silk album was actually cut and released as the artist planned — It's Growing. His projected debut, Love Is the Answer, recorded between 1990 and 1991 for Steely & Clevie, wasn't released until 1994. Nothing Can Divide Us appeared the following year, and compiled songs cut in 1992 for Courtney Cole. Silky Mood, also released posthumously, rounded up numbers cut for the Jammys label, and a myriad of other sets compiled up hits, earlier offerings, and pretty much anything and everything that the singer had recorded. So, It's Growing remains Silk's only "true" album, and a masterpiece it is, as across ten tracks the singer showcases his stunning power on both romantic and cultural numbers. On the gorgeous title track, Silk combines both into a spectacular lovefest. "Move on Slow" finds the singer at his sultriest, and "Come to Me" at his most passionate, while "Commitment" takes him into soulful territory. "Place in Your Heart" is a total charmer, and was a huge Jamaican hit; Silk would recut the song two years later for his projected debut for Atlantic. "Bless Me" was also a smash, a fervent prayer for Jah's intervention, backed by Michael Spense and Jazzwad's jazzy, high-stepping accompaniment. "Keep Them Talking" boasts an equally inspired backing from the Firehouse Crew, a dangerous, thumping riddim that will indeed keep them talking, as Silk puts those who reject Jah firmly in their place. "I Am Vex" was even angrier, and another deserved hit, where the singer ferociously addresses racists, while his righteous anger also fires "Disadvantage." Both these numbers were vehemently backed by Danny Browne, who supplied accompaniment on two other tracks as well. Sly & Robbie and Steely & Clevie also provide phenomenal riddims, with Brian & Tony Gold and Dean Fraser offering excellent vocal support. Bobby "Digital" Dixon's expert production and arrangements makes the whole set sizzle, adding glow to the romantic numbers, and fire to the cultural tracks. Every song within is a classic, the lyrics are strong, all penned by the singer and/or his writing partner Anthony Rochester. It's Growing is the album that established Silk's reputation, and is a continuing reminder of his ferocious talent.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pluto Shervington Moves to 'Kingston 21'

Pluto Shervington remembers the moment he decided to leave Jamaica and resettle in Miami clearly.
"I was termed as the uptown one because I would play for all the private parties. Other artistes were doing more the big shows," Shervington told The Sunday Gleaner.
Right after the 1976 election which returned the Michael Manley-led PNP to power, early in 1977, Shervington said, "I had at least 10 to 12 cancellations. It dawned on me that most of my market was leaving the country. Business took a serious dive. Even the studio, the jingles. At the same time, Ernie was going through his thing over Power and the Glory".
Even Federal Records, where a lot of the major recording sessions were held, pulled up, shipping out the studio equipment in the process.
"So it was the natural thing to do. Most of my customers were in Miami anyway. I said I am going up there. I have work there. It worked out that way," Shervington said.
Enthusiastic response
He performed I Man Born Ya to those 'customers', the newly transplanted Jamaicans responding enthusiastically to the song. "People who have moved out of the country use that song as their theme song even more than the people who live here," Shervington said. If anyone asked how he had done that song and then migrated anyway, he told them the truth about his experience.
Still, Shervingtion pointed out "Miami isn't out of the country. I think we have another Kingston between Dale and Broward. We don't lack anything. It's like Kingston over again. We have the shows, the food, the people. You're talking about 1.5 million of us".
The numbers were, of course, smaller, but the culture was just as strong when Shervington moved there in 1977. He referred to an event called Sundays on the Bay in Miami which ran for nearly two decades, which he says had the greatest impact, with more than 2,000 persons gathering regularly on a Sunday evening.
"It made Americans and Cubans aware of us and how strong we were," Shervington said. And he added, "we were the only culture to challenge the Latin American women in terms of looks. Only the Cuban women could challenge."
Shervington still travels a lot between 'Kingston 21' and Kingston a lot these days. Over the past month he has had three shows in Jamaica, including one with Ernie Smith in Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth, and last night's Jamaica College benefit on the grounds of the Hope Road, St Andrew school.
He emphasised "I have never left here. Even when I am over there. If you ever come and see how we live. It is Kingston 21. Anything that is here is over there, good and bad." -Sunday Gleaner

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Story of a Song: 'I Man Born Ya'- Pluto Shervington

"But I man born ya ..I man on ya ..I nah leave yah ..Fe go America ..No way sah ..Pot a boil ya ..Belly full ya ..Sweet Jamaica"
Chorus, 'I Man Born Ya'.

In 1975, things were humming along for Pluto Shervington as surely as a new turntable needle set solidly in a clean LP groove, with no dust mites or vibration determined to disturb the melodic flow of the audio.
"Things were good here. Things were happening. Business was good. I was in the jingles business as well," Shervington told The Sunday Gleaner. "I had my own studio. That year, 1975, I think I wrote 50 of the major jingles I heard on radio and produced them. I had a studio that was doing very well, records were doing well. I was touring all over the world; life was good."
In that period of optimism, three years after the election which had swept Michael Manley into power, Shervington wrote the nationalistic, celebratory I Man Born Ya in a series of jolly jams which rocked the nation. There was Ram Goat Liver about a running belly encounter with a 'lick dung' goat; Your Honour explored the predicament of a man caught nude in a woman's closet by an irate husband; and Dat Ting Dere rummaged through the parcel of a Rastafarian who had to resort to eating pork.
I Man Born Ya was actually written ahead of Dat Ting Dere, but was the last of the quality quartet released. Shervington tells The Sunday Gleaner when he wrote it, "I truly didn't think I was leaving anywhere.
"A lot can happen in that year and a half," he said.
That 'lot' was a violent 1976 general election, which Michael Manley-led People's National Party (PNP) also won, the period including a state of emergency.
"It was a hell of a year. A lot hinged on who was going to win that election," Shervington told The Sunday Gleaner.
Although some persons had already started the exodus from Jamaica, mostly to the United States, Shervington said "it was not until right ahead of the election at the end of 1976 that everyone started to get jumpy. The crime went sky high".
I Man Born Ya got caught up in the vortex of nationalism, as he says "the PNP used that song as their theme song. Nobody asked me. I was not unhappy, but I would not have wanted that because it tended to align me to one side. I wanted to be neutral". Still, nobody branded Shervington a PNP supporter openly, this while his good friend Ernie Smith was getting flack for Power and the Glory, which bemoaned the fighting while the kingdom goes to waste.
I Man Born Ya was recorded at Federal Records (now Tuff Gong) with musicians Val Douglas (bass), Willie Lindo (guitar), Wya Lindo (organ), Robbie Lyn (piano) and Mikey Boo (drums). Shervington said while they were recording the song "it had not hit us yet, the value of what it was going to be".
"I don't think the impact of that song hit us until after I left the country in 1977, moved to Florida. And that song ... all the people who moved away, although it contradicted what they did, they held on to it. None of them let go of Jamaica."
The night that made I Man Born Ya
He remembers the night that literally made I Man Born Ya, a concert held on the Jamaica House lawns with Fabulous Five Incorporated playing the music for the performers. "I was way down at the end," he said. He would later find out that the line-up had been organised that way specifically because of I Man Born Ya. In front of a crowd Shervington estimates was more than 70,000 people, Prime Minister Michael Manley walked onstage and demanded the 'pull up'.
"After that you could not turn it back," Shervington said, the song going on to top the charts for weeks.
And the lasting impact of I Man Born Ya in Jamaica did not hit Shervington until 20 years after he left Jamaica for Florida. Although he had come back and done small shows, his first major concert appearance was on Ernie Smith's celebratory 30 years and Life is Just for Living event at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, with Johnny Nash, Ken Lazarus and the original band which had played the hits.
"It wasn't 'til then I saw Jamaicans were not angry at me because I had written that song and left," he told The Sunday Gleaner. He chuckles as he said "I had no shame at all. I would walk up onstage and sing it like I had never left."
Over time, Shervingtion has adjusted lines when he performs I Man Born Ya, the change including "nuff ganja grow ya" and "nah leave ya till me get me visa" in the chorus, as well as "meanwhile Portia lock the gate" in one of the verses.
The Sunday Gleaner asked Shervington if there was any line he would change in the original recording and he paused, looked up and right into the distance of 32 years ago, the rise and fall of his chest the only movement of his body. Then he said "belly full ya". I would not have written that in the song. There were people here who were starving. That was a selfish line."
"Mine was full and others were OK, but you had a lot of poor people who were not eating. That is why they took to Michael as they did. He promised them all of you will eat now. Which was a promise he could not keep, unfortunately," Shervington said. -Sunday Gleaner

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dancehall Dreams: The Roots of Reggae

A new documentary on the emergence of reggae paints a vivid picture of social upheaval and musical brilliance.
The small nation of Jamaica had its social issues, and, like the very best of art's creations, the discontent gave rise to a musical movement in the 1970s: reggae, which led to the later emergence of dancehall.
A new documentary by director Jérôme Laperrousaz, Made in Jamaica, is being shown in the UK for the first time, to coincide with Black History Month. The film, which the director Wim Wenders has hailed as "a true masterpiece", "the ultimate reference about reggae" and "a pure gem", portrays the rich and vibrant music scene that emerged from the misery of colonialisation and slavery faced by the inhabitants of the Caribbean island, which went on to become a groundbreaking, global musical genre.
That the film, shot on the streets of Kingston and the beaches of Jamaica, starts with the murder of Bogle, one of the leading stars of dancehall, puts the movement in context. Reggae is the sound of the ghettos and is said to be Jamaica's blues, telling of the people's hopes and dreams.
Rather than solely charting the history of Jamaican reggae and dancehall culture, the film focuses on the past and present performers' experiences and perspectives, while looking to the themes explored in its powerful lyrics: religion, violence, gender and social issues.
The compelling documentary shows live performances and interviews with Reggae's stars, young and old. There are appearances in the film from some big hitters, including Gregory Isaacs, who has close to 60 studio albums to his name and can be seen in performance in the main photograph, Bunny Wailer, a founding member of Bob Marley's seminal Wailers and a reggae standard-bearer, seen in the middle picture, Tanya Stephens, Toots Frederick, Elephant Man, Bounty Killer, Third World and Capleton.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Essential Reggae Albums: Junior Reid 'One Blood'

Junior Reid's first solo outing since 1985, his first after departing from Black Uhuru, One Blood was a revolutionary set and a revelation. The stage was set with the release of the title track as an album taster, which proved to be a massive hit and one of the greatest reggae anthems of the decade. The single could have ended up overshadowing the rest of the set, as often happens in these cases, but in fact, the entire album was of equal caliber. Surprisingly, then, only one other track within, the equally anthemic "Sound," was spun off as a single, although at least another half a dozen tracks could have joined it on 45. One of the obvious choices was "Searching for Better," an emphatic, adamantly optimistic number that blends a sharp dancehall style with thumping hip-hop. "Fast Car" revs into the dancehalls, with its tattoo of beats counterpointing the dark, rootsy bass and riffs. While that's all ragamuffin boasts, "Married Life" takes an insightful look at marriage and its many pitfalls. Moving into the wider cultural realm, "A Nuh So" juxtaposes happy reminiscence of childhood with today's ugly world; it's an emotional number that Reid delivers with passion. "When It Snows" heads north to offer consolation to the sufferers there with one of the album's loveliest numbers. Reid's sympathetic performance, beautifully backed by the Tamlins, who provide harmonies throughout the set, is superb, while the rich, urbanized throb of a rhythm is stellar. "Who Done It" returns to the island, where Reid demands to know who killed the reggae don in a coiled shout for justice in the album's most vehement song. The cover of "Eleanor Rigby" is the most surprising, not least because of its closeness in sound to the original...assuming the Beatles had brought in Sly & Robbie to lay down the rhythm. Besides the Riddim Twins, Steely & Clevie, Carlton "Santa" Davis, Tony "Asher" Brissett, Chris Meridith, Tyrone Downie, Earl "Chinna" Smith, and Dean Fraser all add their considerable talents to the set. The musical backings are phenomenal, with Reid, who self-produces, creating an almost hypnotic atmosphere around many of the numbers that totally belies the insistent dancehall rhythms that fuel them. There's astonishing diversity in the stylings and moods that puts paid to the notion that all dancehall riddims are interchangeable, as the album runs the gamut from the moodiest, militant roots to fist-in-the-air anthems through brighter numbers and crossing into both the R&B and hip-hop worlds. It's a breathtaking achievement, one that garnered rave reviews at the time and that has lost none of its power with the passing years.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Earl 'Chinna' Smith and Idrens 'Inna De Yard Volume 1'

Beginning this month The Reggae Review will give attention to a classic collection of reggae music. Reggae at it's finest. Reggae in it simplest form. Reggae Inna De Yard...literally!
Inna De Yard is a relatively new label, a collection supported by Makasound. It presents the songs the way they were created, in the yards and backyards of Jamaica. With a lead voice and a guitar, sometimes accompanied by nyabinghi drums or background vocals, depending on the vibes. It's back to the roots of reggae music as it was when it arose from the yards......

The collection opens with an album from the famous guitarist- composer, author, singer and arranger- of the Soul Syndicate, who also played with the Wailers and more recently Sizzla: Earl 'Chinna' Smith, nicknamed Earl Flute by Keith Hudson for his vocal feats. He notably wrote the unforgettable Junior Byles' hit, 'Fade Away' . In the last 30 years he arranged countless instrumentals for almost every Jamaican artist. He remains one of the most sought after musicians on the island.

On this first Inna De Yard opus, Chinna plays seven of his own songs- including the famed Satan Side, Fade Away and We Got Love. On every other piece, he gives up his place to artists he wanted to introduce on his Inna De Yard album. Young talents such as Jah Youth, Emmanuel I, The Maestro, and elder artists such as Ken Bob and Ras Michael Jr.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cherine Anderson on the Ellen Show

Jamaican actress and artist Cherine Anderson recently appeared on th Ellen Show with Michael Franti and Spearhead singing their top 10 hit 'Say Hey(I love you)' from Franti's latest album 'All Rebel Rockers'.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Julian 'JuJu' Marley Ready to 'Awake' the U.S.

Singer Julian 'Juju' Marley has a lot on his plate of late, what with the April release of his third album, Awake, and the start of his cross-country tour of the United States.

Despite his hectic schedule, when The Gleaner spoke with Marley recently at the Bob Marley Museum on Hope Road, he was mellow when talking about his new music. Marley and his Uprising Band begin their US tour today in Jacksonville, Florida. Accompanying him on tour will be his brother Stephen Marley and Ghetto Youth International artiste Javaughn. "I'm looking forward to going on the road. I hope I'll be getting a good response. I have very good music to give di people and music is di message, so I hope it is embraced," said Marley.

The music will be from the rootsy Awake, which has been labelled as the artiste's best album to date. Awake comes after the release of his 1996 debut album, Lion in the Morning, and his 2003 sophomore album, Time and Place.

Marley said Awake was two years in the making and was inspired by the Almighty and his experiences during that time. The album was recorded in Miami, Jamaica and London and features brother Damian 'Junior Gong' Marley as well as production work from himself, his brothers, the Uprising Band, Owen 'Dreddy' Reid and Noel Davey.

"This album is about everything I have to talk about. The title track Awake speaks for every song on the album. It's different from the other albums in that it's been quite a few years and I've grown. My voice has gotten more mature and I'm not as shy as before, writing wise," he said.

The first song released from the album was the herb-inspired Boom Draw, closely followed by Violence in the Streets, which Marley feels is applicable to every country. Violence in the Streets features Damian Marley and an edgy video for the song was released recently.
"I choose that song to do as the first video from di album 'cause I needed something hardcore to shove at di whole system 'cause dere is too much violence in di streets. It's gonna earthquake di place and it's a hard King Tubby's riddim," he said.

An admirer of current acts such as Tarrus Riley and Queen Ifrica, Marley describes himself as a "roots man" who loves to listen to old-school music. While Marley hasn't played a lot in Jamaica, he's hoping to do so soon to introduce Jamaica to his new music. He cites Africa, Europe and America as having his biggest fan base.

As for the future, Marley hopes to continue on the same path of putting out good music and exposing new talent through the Marley brothers label, Ghetto Youths International.

(The Gleaner, 10/8/09)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Tarrus Riley Shines for Athletes

Reggae artiste Tarrus Riley delivered a delightful set at the Trelawny Multi-Purpose stadium in Florence Hall on Sunday night, to bring the curtains down on the three-day celebrations in honour of the performance of the Jamaican athletes at the 12th IAAF World Championship in Berlin, Germany, in August.

From the moment the artiste was called on stage by Konshens, it was clear that the jam-packed stadium was eagerly awaiting his performance - and he didn't disappoint.
And at the end of his nearly 30-minute set, it was Riley who stood tall atop the many performances of the night.

Dressed in full black, Riley delivered hit after hit, and had particularly his female fans singing along to almost every word and note he uttered.

Opening his set with his current hit, Good Girl Gone Bad, to huge cheers from the large crowd, Riley then belted out catching lyrics in honour of double world record holder and triple Olympic gold medallist, Usain Bolt.

His songlist also included Human Nature and Lion Paw and his antics with saxophonist Dean Frazer brought the house down.

He closed his magnificent set with his hit, She's Royal.

The Strong One, Etana, who was, like Riley, dressed in full black - also performed credibly.
Her song, Blessings, done with reggae singer Alborosie, was well received by the audience. So too were her hit songs, Warrior Love and I am not afraid.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Gramps Morgan Performs at NY Mets' Caribbean Day Celebration

Queens, NY - This past weekend, Citi Field Stadium in New York City, home to the legendary New York Mets baseball team celebrated Caribbean Day at the Mets vs Houston Astros game and reggae crooner Gramps Morgan filled the ball park with the sounds of reggae music, delivering a sizzling pre-game performance that warmed the hearts of thousands of baseball fans on a cool Fall afternoon.

Gramps, performing his single Don't Cry for Jamaica off his chart-topping solo album, 2 Sides of My Heart Vol 1 was in fine nick and was well received by baseball fans who gave him a thunderous applause.

"This is a historic moment for me as it is first time I have performed in a stadium before thousands of baseball fans in my entire career," an elated Gramps Morgan declared moments after he left the mound.

"To have my image beamed live on the big jumbotron TV monitors at a ballpark that I grew up close to as a youngster is a very special moment for me. I am happy I was able to represent for Jamaica, the Caribbean and all my reggae fans" he said.

Gramps was not the only one rejoicing as NY Mets Community and Group Sales & Services spokesperson Michael Renzulli said, "We are very pleased to have a taste of the Jamaican culture here today at the Citi Field as we celebrate Caribbean Day here at the game."
Prior to Gramps' performance, Danglin sang Jamaica We Love, a passionate and patriotic proclamation showcasing all the wonderful things that make Jamaica special. The festivities concluded with a presentation to columnist Sandy Daley from Street Hype newspaper.
Media marketer Anthony Turner of IMAGES LLC, who, along with Dave Rodney and the Queens Economic Development Corporation, coordinated the pre-game event said, "We applaud the NY Mets and the Queens Borough President's Office for giving two Caribbean acts the opportunity to showcase our Caribbean culture before thousands of baseball fans. Gramps and Danglin are two talented artistes who today have broken new ground in their respective careers," he noted.

Gramps, who was born Roy Morgan, has been having a whirlwind year that included a major US tour with Grammy winner India.Arie and John Legend. In August he performed at two sold-out back-to-back events at the world-famous Madison Square Gardens and topped off the summer with a strong performance at Irie Jamboree in New York. His debut album Two Side oF My Heart had one of the strongest reggae debuts ever, racking up impressive sales of over 12,000 units in its first week. Currently the album is the top-selling reggae disc in South Florida and New York. Morgan is currently on a US tour with reggae star Buju Banton

Friday, October 02, 2009

Exclusive Interview with Eric Rachmany of Rebelution PART 3

RR: Are you listening to anything in particular lately?

Eric: Lately I’ve been into writing my own stuff. Definitely stuff with the band. I like writing on acoustic guitar. I can’t say I’ve been listening to one artist that much. I think it’s good that I’m into my own thing because sometimes I won’t be as motivated to write as other times and now seems like a good time. I feel creative.

RR: It seems like bands and artists do a lot of their writing on the road do you find that to be the case?

Eric: I think so. There’s a lot of down time. For me, I like to be in a quiet spot when I’m thinking about song writing. You do see a lot of things. There’s constantly a lot of action going on when on tour. Your witnessing a lot of things going on. I think you’re right. A lot of song writing happens either on tour or relates to being on tour.

RR: Are you surprised at all with the albums’ reception – Bright Side of Life?

Eric: I think there was a little bit of pressure coming off of ‘Courage to Grow’ because it did so well and we’ve always had high expectations for anything that we put out. We feel confident in it and we love playing it and we feel like it’s music people like. I thought that it was going to do good. I enjoy listening to it myself. I think we did a really good project. It’s definitely a progression of the band. I think people have witnessed that. I feel like they see the progression in the song writing and instrumentation so when I hear people say that I feel really stoked that they can say that about the album.

RR: I agree. When I first heard it, yeah, it was Rebelution but you did a lot of different things with the instruments and I noticed a lot of characteristics of Dub. The more I listen to it, the more I enjoy it. Coming off of Courage to grow I wondered 'How are they going to top that?' because, in my opinion, that was one of the best Reggae albums to come out in the last 5/10 years.

Eric: There was that sort of pressure but I think each album’s going to be a little bit different from each other. I think people will end up liking it. It might take them a few listens to get used to it, but by the time they get used to it, they’ll appreciate it.

RR: I hear you’re going to be doing an i-Tunes exclusive release. Is that true?

Eric: Yeah. A few months ago we went to Las Vegas to record an I-Tunes exclusive in the Palms Hotel. Sometimes they do these live exclusive albums. We went in and recorded about eight tracks some acoustic and some are electric – our live sound. That should come out in the next couple of months.

RR: Where do you see yourselves in the next 5/10 years?

Eric: I see us in the studio and on the road, doing what we’re doing right now. Seeing the crowds getting bigger and the positivity getting spread around. All that goodness.

RR: Thank you so much for your time Eric!

Eric: Thank you. Great questions!