By Marc Quadagno
First of all, I just want to say I love living in New York City.
As a lover of live music, especially at shows with local bands who also have worldwide notoriety, there's an indescribable feel to the venue, the performance, and the fans, one that borders on the vibe of a local show while still carrying the awe of a touring band. Being from Brooklyn, one could technically say this show in Manhattan wasn't a local show at all, but the band had their hometown crew in full force, and there were clearly fans who knew only some of the band's entire catalog, those that were there to hear their favorite songs.
Their first album was self-released in 2010, called, "In the Streets," and it mixed reggae with genres such as hip hop. It allowed them to grow with both generations of fans – new and old - and they built their live performance chops opening for artists such as Matisyahu and Collie Buddz, eventually touring with Buddz. They continued to growing their fan base overseas, appearing at festivals such as the Reggae on the River, Summer Jam in Germany, and Uppsala Reggae Festival in Sweden, eventually signing to NYC-based label, Easy Star Records.
By Brian Winters
Article By: Bryan Watson & Joelle Gueguen
Photos By: Joelle Gueguen
When The Cliftones want to hit the road, that’s exactly what they do.. I was invited to follow them and document their tour in January 2017. The Cincinnati based Roots Reggae band took the long haul to the West Coast in support of their debut album ‘Enemies Scatter” departing from Cincinnati OH.
Starting with a great send-off show at Jamaican Cafe Carib in Indianapolis; the band set out to cross the US by van to reach California. They were also accompanied by upcoming vocal artist Ameera .
This journey has been the start of a deep Reggae music connection where East meet West together with a nearly successful van ambush along the way.
The Cliftones have been welcome to many places while on the road, hosted by Dustin Becker in Vista CA owner of Tunes Brews and Reviews and Brian Peace owner of Wing King in Las Vegas. They were introduced to an authentic side of California thanks to them!
On Friday February 24, 2017, The Skatalites returned to Brooklyn to play at Brooklyn Bowl. Having been a Skatalites fan since the early 90's when I first began listening to ska in South Florida, I only became familiar with the band's music from burned CDs. Remember those? It was basically a mixtape on CD - and no, I'm not talking about the type of albums that Chance the Rapper releases. Of course, burned CDs didn't have a track listing, so I didn't know many of the song names, I just knew that this jazz-infused reggae was different than anything I'd ever heard.
Little did I know then that ska music actually came first and was rooted more in Caribbean calypso and jazz: an integral part of ska. I think it's important to note that ska came before reggae, because most reggae does not contain horns and is slower than ska, and that reggae is on the down beat while ska is on the up beat. Either genre makes use of guitars, bass and both have pianos and organs. Making the distinction shows the differences, even though now, reggae is used to encompass almost all music from Jamaica, and then classified into sub-genres.
This week we decided to check out a show at the new venue in Brooklyn, The Hall at MP. Right off the L line, we got there early and grabbed a drink. This is a great spot, lots of room to eat and a nice size dance floor if any bigger acts come through.
The first band of the night, who we came to see, was Brother Jerome. For those that don’t know Brother Jerome is a reggae rock group out of New Jersey that plays in NYC frequently and bring a great mix of reggae music along with blues, jazz and rock to their set. This night they kicked off the event and had a strong hometown crowd, probably 50+ supporting them.
Beginning their set with a nice mellow vibe, the place was in a groove. Normal drummer Andy Davis was unavailable, but luckily for the fans Garret Gardner was able to fill in and did an amazing job. As the band tore into another number you could hear the righteous saxophone of Dan Chetnik rip through the crowd.
Taking a moment to comment on the recent election, they encouraged their fans not lose hope. As if taking this as a cue, the fans began dancing it didn’t stop all night. The band played their favorites from their first release and treated fans to some new material including “Let The River Run”, inspired by the classic Wailers tune “Concrete Jungle”.
They ended their set with their new single. Before they could even announce it a fan yelled “Macho Man”. They laughed saying “that’s right” and began playing the tune. Overall it was a great set to kick off the night and I can’t wait until the album is out so that we can check out all the new tunes.
Written By: Yuval Peretz
The stage was set this past week for some foundation dancehall by the legendary Yellowman. On a quiet Monday (pre-election) night, B.B. King’s Bar & Grill had a nice turn out for Winston Foster a.k.a. Yellowman, a frequent visitor to the Big Apple. Everyone was in for a special addition to the night’s lineup, the beautiful K’reema, the daughter of none other than the Deejay himself. With a sweet melodic voice, K’reema greeted New Yorkers and took the stage for full set accompanied by her father’s band. She played a string of her songs, but really took the crowd over with a cover medley ranging from “Work” (Rihanna) to “No Games” (Serani).
Written By: Brian Winters
All the way from San Diego, CA, Through The Roots brought their high-energy brand of reggae rock to midtown's American Beauty during a stop on their Bloodshot Eyes Fall Tour. Through The Roots was joined by Sun-Dried Vibes, a trio out of South Carolina, and local favorites CC Roots.
CC Roots, formerly Cecilia Celeste, began the night with a hybrid clash of reggae, progressive rock, and blues. Despite their name, the Jersey City based group is as much a jam band as they are a roots band. The six-piece band had a killer rhythm section, a pair of impressive guitarist, and a jack-of-all trades musician playing everything from harmonica to trumpet. Paying homage to both Peter Tosh and Chuck Berry, CC Roots closed out their opening set by playing a tight rendition of “Johnny B. Goode.”
Next, Sun-Dried Vibes took the stage and delivered a huge sound with just a guitar, bass, and drum-kit. Lead singer Zach Fowler's voice was outstanding, every line ringing out loud and crisp. Quite far from their hometown of Fort Mill, SC, Sun-Dried Vibes had a small, but devout group of fans hanging on to every word. Sun-Dried Vibes set consisted mainly of songs from their 2014 album Back2Square1, including “Nugg It,” “Irie Vibes,” and “Young One,” but the track “Trouble” off their debut album Give Thanks (2011) was a definite highlight. Sun-Dried Vibes have been steadily gaining hype as one of the top emerging reggae rock acts on the East Coast, and they definitely lived up to expectation.
Written By: Brian WInters
On the second night of their two-show stint at Brooklyn Bowl, Toots & The Maytals nearly brought the house down in front of a jam-packed Williamsburg crowd. At 73 years young, Toots Hibbert exhibited his joyous energy, and had the audience roaring at every turn, rattling off one hit after the next.
The evening kicked off with Selectress Iriela spinning vintage roots reggae hits from her to die for collection of vinyl. Easing the crowd into a reggae rhythm, the NYC-based DJ and producer played classic tunes from the likes of Bob Marley and the Wailers, Don Carlos, Half Pint, Yellowman, Ini Kamoze, Junior Reid, and Sister Nancy.
With the Bowl now thoroughly packed, Selectress Irie made way for Toots' band to enter the stage. The band jammed out for a few minutes before Toots' daughter Leba joined them on stage to sing a pair of songs. Anticipation at it's highest level, Toots finally scurried out from the green room and in front of the microphone, drawing an enormous cheer from the Brooklyn crowd.