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February 2013: Victories of Reggae 2013
Charly B, who had won Reggae Europe’s competition in 2009, won his place on the winning podium for Revelation of the Year.
First joint Reggae Europe/Geejam Recordings video production – Charly B from France

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Rototom Sunsplash Reggae Festival

Reggae Europe rewards with a financial contribution IRIE FM, Winners of the Rototom European Reggae contest 2012 

http://www.reggaecontest.eu/portal/es/contest-2012/news/288-media-partner-europei-reggae-europe

The Serbian band Irie FM has won the final of the European Reggae Contest that took place in Udine in front of an enthusiastic audience. After having participated in last years’ live final, the band from Belgrad was awarded as best group of this edition.

The final took place in Udine at the PalaCus because of the rainy weather, which didn’t stop the audience though; the event was sold out and the crowd was involved during all shows.

Arrokibi Roots (Italy), Irie Fm (Serbia), Sundyata (France), Ital Audio (UK), Chalwa Band & King Konsul (Spain) and Sattatree (Germany) have faced each other at the culmination of this contest which has started various months ago with the first selection. This first phase had been decided by the opinion of the public via online voting and the evaluation by an expert jury. After that, the first three bands of each region competed in the semifinals in live performances. The winners of each nation were the six bands which animated this great party at the PalaCus in Udine.

Finally, the prize for Irie FM will be a long tour of concerts at the best festivals of Europe, sharing the stage with the protagonists of the international reggae scene: Rototom Sunsplash (Benicàssim), United Island Festival (Prague), Summerjam (Cologne), Reggae Radio Station Summer Festival (Milan), Reeds Festival (Zurich), Mighty Sounds Festival (Czech Rep.), Sardinia Reggae Festival (Sassari, Sardinia), Uprising Reggae Festival (Bratislava), Reggae Sun Ska (Pauillac, France) and Foundation Reggae Festival (A Coruña). They are in fact the partners of the contest network which will offer their stage to the talent of the winning band, and a financial contribution from REGGAE EUROPE to help them in their projects.

Prince Harry embraces reggae

(From Jamaica Observer, 8 May 2012)

HE ‘beat’ champion sprinter Usain Bolt in a match race during his visit to Jamaica in March, but that seem not enough for Britain’s Prince Harry.

The Sun tabloid reports that Harry has been telling friends he wants to be a reggae deejay.

During his four-day visit, the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II savoured some of Jamaica’s popular culture.

He visited the Rise Life Project in downtown Kingston where he jammed to Marley’s One Love and met the legendary singer’s widow Rita.

According to The Sun, Harry has been receiving secret deejay lessons as well as added reggae to his vinyl collection through specialist online stores.

“Harry has always been interested in music, but Jamaica was a real eye- opener. He started looking into reggae as soon as he got back to the UK,” The Sun quoted a source as saying.

“Meeting Rita Marley was a great inspiration too. She seems to have had a big impact on him.”

Prince Harry is not the first royalty to be entranced by reggae music.

His father, Prince Charles heir to the British throne, certainly took to the beat while visiting Jamaica in 2000 and 2008.

Donning a Rasta tam, he attempted some reggae moves while touring sections of Marley’s old stomping ground, Trench Town, in February 2000.

Eight years later, he was at the Bob Marley Museum on Hope Road with his wife Camilla Parker Bowles. They joined a group of Rastafarians in a ceremonial beating of the drums to the amusement of a large crowd.

 Bob Marley born on 6 February 1945 would have been 67 this year!

THIRTY-ONE years after his death, Bob Marley continues to outsell contemporary reggae and dancehall stars. (from the Jamaica Observer)

On the latest Billboard Digital Reggae singles chart, Marley registers 14 songs including One Love, Buffalo Soldier, Is This Love and No Woman Nuh Cry. However, it’s the single Three Little Birds, at number three, that has registered the biggest download sales to date. Some 1,358,184 downloads have been sold in the United States.

Marley’s most recent album, the live Bob Marley & the Wailers: Live Forever-the Stanley Theatre 1980, debuted and peaked at number 14 on the Billboard 200 Album chart last year. It currently holds the number five spot on the Billboard Reggae Album chart, selling 72,212 copies according to sales tracker Nielsen Soundscan.

The 1984 compilation, Legend, is the biggest selling reggae album of all time, with 14 million copies sold in the US.

Legend’s worldwide sales now stand at over 25 million copies. It has spent 992 consecutive weeks on Billboard’s Pop Catalogue Album chart.

Legend is currently number one on the iTunes Reggae Album charts in 14 European countries as well as Canada and New Zealand.

On the current iTunes Top 100 Reggae Singles chart, Marley has 12 songs with Three Little Birds ranked at number two.

Marley has charted 22 titles on the Billboard 200 Album chart. His 1976 album, Rastaman Vibration, was the highest charter in his lifetime in the US, peaking at number eight in 1976. He was the first reggae artiste to score a top 10 album in America.

On Billboard’s R&B album chart, Marley registered 21 titles. Rastaman Vibration was his best showing, stalling at number eleven.

The box set, Songs of Freedom, which soared to number one in 1992, is his sole chart-topper on Billboard’s Top World Music Album chart.

Eight Marley titles have made Billboard’s R&B Singles chart. In 1976, Roots Rock Reggae moved to number 37. His biggest success on that chart came with Exodus in 1977 which stopped at number 19.

On Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles chart, Marley only earned one entry. Roots Rock Reggae peaked at number 51.

Apart from Could You Be Loved stalling at number 49 in 1980, Marley’s biggest success on Billboard’s Dance Music Club Play chart came via remixes. In 1999, Sun is Shining soared to number one, while one year later Rainbow Country made number seven.

Marley fared better on the UK pop charts. In 1975, he hit number 22 with No Woman Nuh Cry. Up until 2000, 15 Marley songs charted in that country, with Sun is Shining the best performer at number three.

Vibz Kartel allegedly participated in beating death of ‘Lizard’

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 : ENTERTAINER Vybz Kartel allegedly participated in the beating death of his friend Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams, who, according to the prosecution, was murdered over the disappearance of two guns.

The allegation was made in the Home Circuit Court last week where Calvin Hay, one of the men charged along with the entertainer, was offered bail in the sum of $1million.

 According to the prosecution, Williams was a part of a gang in Waterford, St Catherine that was headed by Kartel.

In August, the prosecution told the court, Williams and another man were entrusted with the care of two guns by Kartel. But when in mid-August the guns were discovered missing, the men were summoned to meet Kartel at his Havendale, St Andrew home to give an account of the guns. Kartel, according to the prosecution, was “angry” about the disappearance of the weapons.

On August 16, Williams and the other man — who is now the prosecution’s main witness — were picked up in a taxi, reportedly by entertainer Shawn ‘Shawn Storm’ Campbell and taken to the Havendale home where Kartel and other men were waiting on him.  While en route to the house, the court was told, Williams started sending text messages to a person, expressing fear that he was going to be killed and urging the receiver of the messages to call the police.  At the home, Williams and the other man were taken into a room where Kartel, Andre St John, and Kahira Jones were waiting. According to the prosecution’s case, Williams was beaten to death by the men who were armed with blocks and pickaxe sticks.

During the melee, Kartel was bitten by his own dog and had to seek medical treatment. The prosecution said it was in possession of the hospital bill and record of the treatment.  The prosecution said, too, that it has voice recordings of Kartel and a person it believes to be Hay planning Williams’ murder. However, the prosecution did not oppose bail for Hay, who is represented by Chris Tavares-Finson, because it has not confirmed that the voice on the recording was Hay’s. The recording is being analysed.

The accused men will again appear in court on February 17.

The men, Nigel Thompson and Lenburgh McDonald, along with Kartel, will next appear in court on February 3 when a preliminary enquiry into Bryan’s murder is scheduled to begin. (Bryan was shot dead along a street in Gregory Park, St Catherine in July.)

Also Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, and fellow Portmore Empire member Vanessa ‘Gaza Slim’ Saddler are to appear in the RM court on February 1 on charges of conspiracy and attempting to pervert the course of justice.  The charges stem from allegations that Vybz Kartel sent a text to Saddler, leading to her reporting to the police that she had been robbed by Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams, who had in fact been murdered before the reported robbery occurred. The prosecution is contending that the report was made in order to give the impression that Williams was not dead.  On a separate matter, Kartel is to return to the Resident Magistrate’s Court on February 13 when he will be tried on a ganja possession charge.
( BY PAUL HENRY Crime/Court Desk co-ordinator – from Jamaica Observer, 17 Jan. 2012).

Marley dominates Billboard reggae chart (27/09/2011)

BRAND Marley continues to dominate Billboard’s reggae albums chart. The king of reggae Bob Marley and his offspring — Ziggy, Stephen and Damian — account for four of the top 10 slots on this week’s ranking.

After a staggering 71 weeks on this chart, the collaborative effort, Distant Relatives, between Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley and American rapper Nas, has muscled its way back to the top of the pile. The project which features tracks such as Count Your Blessings, Friends, Patience and As we Enter, was released by the Grammy Award-winning artistes in May of last year.  The Marley name also appears at the number three slot on the chart with Stephen Marley’s Revelation Part 1: The Root of Life, which has spent 17 weeks on this chart and advanced one position from its number four spot last week. This week’s number four is another Marley, as Ziggy’s album Wild and Free takes that spot, having been on this chart for the past 14 weeks. The Marley brand is rounded out at No 9. The original Marley, Bob, continues to chart 30 years after his death with Live Forever taken from a show at the Stanley Theatre in Pittsburgh, USA, on September 23, 1980, mere months prior to the death of the reggae icon. This album has spent 34 weeks on the Billboard reggae album chart.

The Marleys aside, this week’s chart represents a mixed bag in the world of reggae.

The recently released Reggae’s Gone Country holds down the second spot, moving up three places from the fifth position it held last week.

At number five is the compilation Jamaica Island in the Sun featuring various artistes.

Last week’s top-album on this chart, Shaggy’s Summer in Kingston has indeed slipped a few places and holds on to the sixth spot after nine weeks on the chart.

After 45 weeks on this chart, seventh place is occupied by another compilation album by various artistes, Best of Reggae, which was last week’s number nine album.

Dominic Balli’s American dream re-enters the fray of the top 10 after five weeks on the chart, holding down the number eight spot.

The top 10 on the Billboard Reggae albums chart is rounded out by a perennial favourite VP Records’ Reggae Gold 2011 featuring various artistes. (from Jamaica Observer)

The Amy Winehouse, Jamaica connection

Winehouse spent nearly 3 weeks in Jamaica recording music

Sunday, July 24, 2011 – (from the Sunday Observer, Jamaica)

Jamaica has long been known as the playground of many of the world’s rich and famous. The parish of Portland, particularly its capital Port Antonio, is legendary for being the escape and hideaway for locals and foreigners alike, having been made popular by Hollywood actor Errol Flynn from as early as the 1950s.

This tradition has continued over the years with a string of the ‘known’ set being attracted to the lush green parish and quaint town due to it natural beauty and hideaway quality.

British singer Amy Winehouse shares a moment with staffers at the Geejam Hotel and Recording studio, where she spent nearly three weeks in 2010. (Photo: courtesy of Geejam)

With the establishment of the Gee Jam recording studio and boutique hotel by record exec Jon Baker, it was clear that more of the world’s musicians would be making their way to Jamaica to holiday and record.

Therefore it was no real surprise when word began to spread that controversial British singer Amy Winehouse was on the rock to getaway and focus on recording material for the follow-up to he successful release, the Grammy Award-winning Back to Black album, which feature the smash hit Rehab.

Geejam head honcho Baker was among those to express sadness at the tragic death of the sultry singer and songwriter, describing her passing as, “A tragic loss of a true friend of Jamaica”.

He continued, “there must be countless millions of people, who, like me, are feeling a real sense of loss for such a uniquely talented individual.”

Baker could not help but be philosophical in the wake of the news of Winehouse’s passing. “The legacy of her relatively short recording career will remain a source of inspiration for other talented recording artists, as well as future generations of fans. She will certainly not be forgotten,” Baker said.

But, even prior to this nearly three-week stay in Jamaica by Winehouse, her music had already reflected a touch of the sounds of Jamaican.

The final single released from her hit Back to Black album, Just Friends was a easy jazz set to a ska beat. This single was her final release before her death.

The Winehouse/Jamaica connection would rise again and would also have Geejam’s Jon Baker as a central figure.

The Port Anotnio-based mento band, The Jolly Boys, who are managed by Baker recorded a mento version of the Winehouse hit for their Geejam produced album, Great Expectations.

This would propel the nearly 60-year-old mento band into a whole other phase of their career, taking in the far-flung music markets of Europe and Asia. The Jolly Boys has just completed a tour of Europe as the opening act for another sultry, British songstress, Sade.

BUJU BANTON – 10 YEARS IN JAIL IN THE US

The reggae star hit with severe punishment for cocaine conspiracy conviction:
After being convicted for conspiring with two men to possess more than 5 kilograms of cocaine, Jamaican reggae singer Buju Banton (real name: Mark Myrie) was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison on 23rd June 2011.

REGGAE CONTEST 2011

Thursday 2 June 2011, the Rototom Reggae Contest 2011 took place in Barcelona.  The jury was composed of  representatives from Summerjam  festival , Rototom Sunsplash, Mighty Soundz/Sazavafest, Reggae SunSka festival, Reggae Geel festival, Sardinia Reggae Festival, and Reggae Europe.  The winner of the competition was the German band Dub à la Pub.  A special prize has been given to Dar-K and Arkaya Music Band.

BUJU

The federal court jury found Banton guilty of drug conspiracy charges after about 11 hours of deliberations, a verdict that may end the career of a man who rose from the slums of Jamaica to fame as one of the world’s top reggae artists.  U.S. District Court Judge James Moody ordered Banton jailed immediately.

Buju Banton, 37, faces 15 years to life in prison when Moody sentences him later this year. His attorneys said they will appeal.

Banton smiled wistfully and put a reassuring arm around the shoulders of his attorneys sitting on either side of him as the verdict was read by a court clerk.

As marshals surrounded Banton, a supporter called out, “They did wrong by you!”

Banton blew kisses, and told them, “Send my love, okay?”

His legal team followed him to a cell, where they said they found Banton seemingly at peace.

“We are all very upset and emotional,” attorney David Markus said. “The only person who seems to be okay is Buju.”

In a statement from his cell, Banton told supporters, “Our life is sometimes predestined.”

Outside the courthouse, Banton’s friends and supporters gathered in tight circles, cell phones unfolded as news of the verdict was relayed to the Caribbean.

“I believe in my heart what God told me, and God told me not guilty,” said Carol Taylor, a native of Jamaica who lives in Tampa.

Of the drug charges, she said, “We know that’s not Buju.”

Jurors found Banton guilty of three charges after the week-long trial: conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, and using a telephone to commit a drug offense.

Jurors found him innocent of attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

EUROPEAN REGGAE CONTEST

Reggae Europe is partner with Rototom Sunsplash for 2011 Rototom Reggae Contest Europe.  Please visit the Rototom page and VOTE!

GRAMMY AWARDS – REGGAE

Incarcerated reggae singer Buju Banton won the grammy award for the Best Reggae Album for ‘Before the Dawn.’ He begins his second trial for a federal drug trafficking charge on Monday, 14 Feb. 2011.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR. BOB MARLEY

Born on 6 February 1945, Bob would have been 66 this year. Happy B’day King!

ROTOTOM SUNSPLASH  INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL 2011 – Buy your tickets now by clicking here

After the very big success of the first Spanish edition of the ROTOTOM SUNSPLASH INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL, we have been informed that the 18th edition of the ROTOTOM will take place again in BENICASSIM, (between Barcelona and Valencia, Spain) from 18 to 27 August 2011  Don’t forget to book that date in your calendars, it’s gonna be HOT HOT HOT again !!!

rototom sunsplash 2011 banner



DEATH OF GREGORY ISAACS ON 25 OCTOBER 2011 – HE WILL BE MISSED

Gregory Isaacs — one of the most popular and versatile reggae singers of the late-Seventies, and the smooth-voiced dancehall crooner behind the genre’s landmark 1982 LP Night Nurse — passed away on 25 October 2011 at his London home following a year-long battle with lung cancer. Isaacs was 59. “Gregory was well loved by everyone, his fans and his family, and he worked really hard to make sure he delivered the music they loved and enjoyed,” Isaacs’ wife Linda said. “He will be greatly missed by his family and friends.”

Over the course of his prolific career — in which he release an estimated 500 albums within Jamaica, the UK and the U.S. — Isaacs collaborated with reggae, dub and dancehall icons like Lee “Scratch” Perry, King Tubby, Sugar Minott, Freddie McGregor, Dennis Brown and Errol Holt. After spending the Seventies building a reputation as both a top-notch roots reggae singer and a soulful “lovers rock”-style crooner, Isaacs recorded his masterpiece Night Nurse at Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong Studios in 1982, the year after Marley’s death.

Isaacs was poised to become a worldwide star when Night Nurse climbed to Number 32 on the British charts, but instead found himself sentenced to six months in a Jamaican prison on illegal firearm charges. Dubbed the “Cool Ruler” by fans, Isaacs wrestled with drug addiction throughout his career, eventually losing his teeth and jeopardizing his legendary voice from persistent drug use, but he continued to make music, releasing his final album, Brand New Me, in 2008. (article from Daniel Kreps, rollingstone.com)

Gyptian takes Reggae MOBO award

(article from Jamaica Observer of 22.10.10, by KEVIN JACKSON)

REGGAE artiste Gyptian copped the MOBO Award for Best Reggae Act on Wednesday. The awards show was held in Liverpool, England. This is the first international award for Gyptian since coming onto the music scene in 2005 with Serious Times.

Gyptian was in attendance at the awards show, which saw boy band JLS and British rapper Tinie Tempah walk away with double awards each.
In a telephone interview from his hotel in England, Gyptian expressed his gratitude and joy on winning the coveted award. “It’s really a pleasure, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m just giving thanks and praises for this achievement.”
Asked what winning the award signified for him, Gyptian said ‘It’s like you are going to college and you graduate with honours’.
Gyptian will next month be going up against Vybz Kartel, Gramps Morgan, Damian Marley, Jah Cure and Mr Vegas in the Best Reggae Act category of the Soul Train Music Awards. He is also scheduled to perform at the event which is set to take place on November 10 in Atlanta, USA.
Currently on a UK tour with US rhythm and blues singer Mary J Blige, Gyptian says he is looking to break new ground on the trek.
Gyptian said “It’s a nice look for me to be on tour with Mary J Blige. I am looking forward to breaking new ground and increasing the fan base.”
Gyptian’s VP Records album Hold You was released in July. It has so far peaked at number two on Billboard’s Reggae album chart and number 34 on Billboard’s R&B Hip Hop album chart.
His smash single Hold You reached number four on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart; number 69 on Billboard’s Canadian Hot 100; number 31 on Billboard’s R&B Hip Hop Songs chart; and number 77 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The follow-up single Nah Let Go which has an accompanying music video clip in rotation on MTV and BET, is already garnering mainstream airplay stateside. It is expected to impact the Billboard charts over the next few weeks.

Buju continues to ride charts (11.10.2010)

BUJU Banton’s new album, Before the Dawn, remains in the US top-10 charts but has also jumped on one European market chart.

It indicates that the reggae artiste continues to earn whilst in prison. The album which peaked at number two in September dipped to number eight in the US on iTunes Reggae Albums Chart, and to number nine on Amazon Reggae best–sellers list up to last Friday. It is currently charting at seven in the Netherlands on iTunes reggae albums charts up to Friday.

It’s rare to see Banton chart online, as these charts are dominated by releases from Bob Marley, Sean Paul and Gyptian and foreign reggae groups. Digital sales account for one-third of global music sales and the Apple-owned iTunes is the leading online music store accounting for 70 per cent of worldwide digital sales according to Billboard.

According to reports, Buju Banton was heavily involved in the production of the album despite his incarceration. It is said he laboured over the phone with engineers, chose the final tracks and conceptualised the packaging. Hard copies of the album contain a special note written from inside the Pinellas County Jail in Clearwater, Florida, where he has been housed for the past ten months. Before the Dawn was released in North America and Japan during the final week in September and in October for Europe.

The ninth studio album by the international musician, Before The Dawn boasts 10 tracks that comprise some of the most powerful songs written by Banton since his professional entry into the music business over twenty years ago. Recorded at Banton’s own Gargamel Music Studio in Kingston, Jamaica, Before the Dawn is said to contain the traditional roots reggae sound on the track Do Good, a little classic rock on the tune No Smoking At All, and deep reggae on Battered & Bruised. Buju’s handlers have named the track Innocent as the album’s unofficial anthem, which they claim strikes a highly personal chord that is hoped will resonate deeply with the artiste’s long-time fans.

Described by Gargamel Music as a prophetic project, the album is said to encapsulate the experiences of the artiste who has been imprisoned in Florida since last December on a charge of conspiracy to possess and distribute five kilogrammes of cocaine. Gargamel Music quotes Buju as saying: “All the songs on this album were written before I and I found I self in this current situation, yet they all speak profoundly to what I and I am going through right now… You might can lock the flesh but you can never lock the spirit of Rasta”.  (from JamaicaObserver, 11.10.2010)

Veteran Singer Junior Reid said there is a big buzz surrounding the upcoming release of his new album, Junior Reid: The Living Legend.

The artist said the album will be released in November and is being eagerly awaited by his fans.

“It’s a well anticipated album. The people can’t wait for this album. It consists of about eight reggae tracks and eight hip hop and R&B tracks. The buzz is out there for the album. I don’t have to do much promotion for the album. It’s so long awaited, the anticipation is crazy”.

He said it will have collaborations from artistes like Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Swiss Beat, Cassidy, Capleton and his sons Andrew and Wadda Blood.

“Don’t be surprised if you hear Alicia Keys on there, cause she owe mi one from the No One remix,” Junior Reid added.

In addition to his album, the artiste said he has new songs like These Streets, State Of Emergency, Love Your Brothers and Jamaican Chocolate. And, he said, the remix of I’m So Crazy, with Cassidy, is also doing well internationally.

(from Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter – Jamaican Gleaner)

17TH EDITION OF THE LARGEST EUROPEAN REGGAE FESTIVAL, ROTOTOM SUNSPLASH, FIRST SPANISH EDITION, IS OVER, AND HAS BEEN A BIG SUCCESS.

More info, photos, videos soon online.

ONE OF THE LARGEST EUROPEAN FESTIVAL, ROTOTOM SUNSPLASH 2010, has started (21 to 28 August 2010) in BENICASSIM, SPAIN

160,000 persons from all over Europe are expected at the 1st Spanish edition of the ROTOTOM SUNSPLASH. People of all ages gather together for eight consecutive days, the area filled with reggae music: live acts every evening, dancehall music every night, and in the afternoons, education and entertainment go hand in hand. There are debates, meetings on reggae music and Rasta culture, films and documentaries, photo & art exhibitions, workshops on percussions, African dance, Capoeira and Didjeridoo, sessions focusing on meditation and alternative medicine. Moreover, there is a professional team that organizes creative workshops, puppet shows and juggling to entertain the large number of children who are always present at the festival.

Rototom Sunsplash, the reggae festival, has moved from italy to a new home in Spain at Benicassim between Valencia and Barcelona on the coast. Taking place from Saturday 21st and Saturday 28th August 2010. The event offers Reggae, Ragga and Dancehall plus expect a diversified supporting programme still to be announced.

JAMA-FRENCH REGGAE SINGER CHARLY B - (Listen to the Ganja version by Charly B of Shawty like a melody)

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Last year, CHARLY B from France was the winner of our competition for the best reggae song. This year,we are pleased to announce that CHARLY B will be touring Europe, starting at the Rototom on 24 August, Lion Stage and continuing with the concerts of Bouge ta Planète.

Charly B’s album FOREVER recorded at Geejam Studios in Jamaica under the supervision of Jon Baker, and in association with Reggae Europe, will be released before the end of the year.

Jolly Boys Bring ‘Great Expectation’ (From the Jamaica Gleaner)

From left: Joseph Bennett, Albert Minott, Derrick Henry, Allan Swymmer, Egbert Watson. – Contributed

Mento band looks to rejoin mainstream, change the image of ‘country people music’

Mento, in its original format, is ‘country people music’, the banjo, maracas and rhumba box needing no electronic amplification to carry home in rural areas of a country where there is still need for a rural electrification programme.

Somewhere along the timeline of Jamaica’s popular musical development, though, it became relegated to ‘tourist music’, the floral-shirt-clad figures beaming under straw hats and warbling Yellow Bird a far cry from and sad caricature of irreverent, bawdy, witty and extemporaneous mento.

Jon Baker, in his original format, is an English lad who went to New York, got a look at black urban music before it went mainstream, ended up forming Gee Street Records and built the world-class Geejam Studios in Portland.

Now mento meets an ultra-enthusiastic Baker and there is Great Expectation of The Jolly Boys album of that name, which they will give St Andrew a live listen to at Redbones Blues Café on Saturday night before heading off on a one-month tour of the United Kingdom, the touring party consisting of three original members and a number of ‘new’ Jolly Boys.

There is a video for the lead-off song, a cover of Amy Winehouse’s Rehab, in which a short red-dress-clad young lady undulates to the music, making for a connection among generations across the divide since mento fell out of radio and sound-system favour.

Among the other tracks of Great Expectation are Perfect Day, Riders on the Storm, Golden Brown, I Fought the Law, Ring of Fire and You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

At a not-too-difficult stretch, there are similarities between the 12-track project, dubbed ‘contemporary mento’, and the nascent days of the Jamaican recording industry. In The Rough Guide to Reggae, Steven Barrow and Peter Dalton write that when Stanley Motta opened Jamaica’s first recording studio on Hanover Street in 1951, “his plan seems to have been to record mento”. And “the first disc actually issued by Motta was a medley of mento songs by Lord Fly”. So, while mento and The Jolly Boys are not new to the studio, the Gee Jam standard and the cadre of top-flight personnel Baker has employed (Great Expectation was mixed by Tim Amilherst) is a whole new world.

With the agile senior Albert Minott (an engaging character, face lined with experience and humour, front upper teeth a casualty of his fire-breathing days and who can walk on his hands even on the upper side of 70 years old) up front, The Jolly Boys had literally been under Baker’s music trend-sniffing nose in Portland for a while. However, at Christmas 2008, while watching them at the Bush Bar along with a  record-producing colleague “I noticed some of the guys were no longer coming to play. I thought to myself that not a lot of music gets to be recorded in Gee Jam,” he said, so he pulled in The Jolly Boys.

Still, he says, “I had never explored mento in-depth,” although he soon realised that mento was “a very important social kind of music”. Having The Jolly Boys in the top-flight studio also made him realise that Minott was “an incredibly charismatic vocalist”.

After recording a number of traditional mento songs (The Jolly Boys sing Iron Bar in one of the promotional videos behind Great Expectation), Baker says he spoke with partner on the project Mark Jones, asking, “wouldn’t it be incredible if we tried to marry the institution of mento with modern pop and rock songs?”

Baker points to the similarities in irreverence and double meaning between mento and the “right and relevant” songs chosen for the project, then laughs as he says, “they are among my favourite all-time classics.” It also does not hurt that Winehouse recorded at Geejam this year.

And he is not smiling when he says “there is a cultural side to the mento movement that exists in rock and roll”.

Dale Virgo, co-producer of Great Expectation, is a key player in the contemporary mento sound in the studio and live with the band, while Dan Neely also handles dual roles. The academic, who researches mento and is critical to “making sure we get everything right” as music director, also plays banjo.

Still, despite the lack of straw hats and floral shirts, it is hard to divorce mento from foreigners interested in Jamaica. “People want to hear positive news about Jamaica. It is not that we are unpopular around the world,” Baker said, noting that a number of top journalists will be coming “to Kingston – the place no one wants to go to”.

“This is not as much a studio album now as a live show,” Baker said. The Jolly Boys will play two sets, one with the traditional and the other the contemporary mento on Great Expectation.

The title came from the reaction of those who were told about the project, but in a click of photographic serendipity, that is just what is written on the building against which The Jolly Boys are framed.

As Baker had told The Sunday Gleaner, “it is almost as if the planets were aligned for this album to happen.” (written by Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer)

UPPSALA REGGAE FESTIVAL

Scandinavian Reggae Festival – a family affair
The Uppsala Reggae Festival is still a relatively recent established festival, but in just 10 years it has succeeded in making reggae music and reggae culture accessible to and loved by many Scandinavians.
“We are celebrating our 10th anniversary on 5-7 August with a best-of-festival as well as new artistes under the festival theme of Life is Great,” says the Tekeste/Kubrom family, who are the driving force behind the festival.
The Scandinavian love of reggae has matured greatly since the end of the 1970s when Bob Marley charmed the Scandinavian public with his music. The most significant development has happened during the last 10 years in conjunction with the Tekeste/Kubrom family establishing the Uppsala Reggae Festival, which is now the largest reggae festival in Scandinavia:
“We love reggae music and devote all our energy and knowledge to making it more accessible to more people. That we have succeeded is due to our personal commitment and the way we work together as a family. People in northern Europe have a need to come together in new ways, so we work with the goal of highlighting what is positive about reggae and create festivals that focus on love, respect and a sense of belonging,” says Yared Tekeste who founded the Uppsala Reggae Festival together with his wife Adiam Kubrom in 2001.
As well as excellent reggae music the Uppsala Reggae Festival also offers other avenues of expression such as lyrics, food, fashion, art, design, dance etc. The theme of this year’s festival is “Life is Great” and this theme is inherent in everything from the choice of bands to the public activities such as the Wall Of Greatness, Reggae Soccer, Reggae Cinema, Reggae Kids Island, Life is Great Art, Life is Great Blog etc.
A wide spectrum of artistes will be performing at the festival, with all of the different aspects of the genre represented. Old school rubs shoulders with new school.

Rototom Sunsplash won’t forget its roots or where it came from… organising a great tribute to Friuli and its people with the open and clear intention of continuing its struggle for freedom.

Friday July 2nd and Saturday July 3rd ‘Rototom Free’ will make its debut in the heart of the North East of Italy at Cormor Park in Udine, not far from the original home of Rototom Sunsplash.

A two-day, free entry event comprising concerts showcasing some of the most popular italian and international reggae artists, such as Alpha Blondy from the Ivory Coast, Fantan Mojah from Jamaica and for the dancehall area Supersonic from Berlin.

In addition to the concerts, the rich programme will feature debates, stands, children activities…basically a mini-Sunsplash!

For further information, please see the Rototom Free area of their website: http://www.rototomsunsplash.com/en/rototom/rototom-free

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REGGAE OPEN AIR FESTIVAL IN the CZECH REPUBLIC 1-7 JULY 2010 -

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UPPSALA Scandinavian reggae festival 5-7 August 2010 (URF_jun_2010_Press_release_international)

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Bounty Killer and Elephant Man set to shoot video

10.5.2010 – Dancehall Veterans Bounty Killer and Elephant will shoot the video “How we do it” on ZJ Chrome’s Mad Collab Riddim.  The single, which was recorded shortly after Bounty killer was granted bail stemming from an altercation with his girlfriend, marks the first time in over ten years since both artists have worked together on a project.

THE BIGGEST EUROPEAN FESTIVAL, ROTOTOM SUNSPLASH 2010, will be held from 21 to 28 August 2010 in BENICASSIM, SPAIN

The famous ROTOTOM SUNSPLASH (originally Italian) festival will now take place in Spain, in the small town of Benicassin, located South of Barcelona, from 21 to 28 August 2010.  As we had told you in a previous article, Rototom has been judged by the Italian authorities as “festival non grata” in its own country.  Benicassim is a lovely and very attractive location, thank you Spain!

Reggae star Buju Banton optimistic despite drug charges

Reggae artist Buju Banton

(Article written by Jacqueline Charles from Miami Herald)

Jamaican reggae star Buju Banton agreed on 16 December 2009 to be transferred from Miami to Tampa, where he faces federal drug charges.

Banton, whose real name is Mark Anthony Myrie, is accused along with two others of trying to buy more than five kilograms of cocaine last week from an undercover law-enforcement officer in Sarasota. Banton was arrested Thursday at his home in Tamarac. The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison, his lawyer said.

Wearing a beige jail jumpsuit and shackles, Banton, 36, sat expressionless in the front row of the Miami federal courtroom Wednesday morning, his trademark dreadlocks pulled back off his narrow face and rolled into a bundle.

Occasionally, he looked across the courtroom where, in the back row, his publicist and two members of the local Jamaican Consulate observed the proceedings.

The only time Banton spoke was when he uttered his real name and age, and confirmed to U.S. Magistrate Judge William Turnoff that he was indeed waiving his bail hearing in Miami to be transferred to Tampa.

“He’s a very spiritual person. He’s a very positive person,” his attorney, Herbert Erving Walker III, said about his mood. “He’s confident he’s going to be exonerated.”

Walker added that Banton, whose album Rasta Got Soul is nominated for the Grammy Reggae Album of the Year, is looking forward to “getting back to doing what he does, which is make music for the people of the world.”

Jimmy Cliff will be Inducted into Rock n Roll Hall of Fame
By Karl Pearson - Thursday, December 17, 2009 (Source : United Reggae)

So it appears the rumours were true and Jimmy Cliff will be joining Bob Marley in the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He will be inducted on 15 March along with Abba, Genesis, The Stooges, and The Hollies. It was thought that the official announcement wouldn’t come until early next month, but many news agencies are reporting that the final 5 have been decided.

This is a major achievement for Jimmy as he becomes only the second reggae artist to entre this prestigious academy. He faced stiff competion from the likes of KISS and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, but at last another reggae artist is acknowledged for the sterling work and service he has given to the world of music. His career started in the early 60’s with songs like “King of Kings”“Dearest Beverley” and “Miss Jamaica”, but it was at the end of that decade and the beginning of the 70’s that Jimmy really came to prominence with releases such as “Many Rivers to Cross”“Wonderful World, Beautiful People” and “Vietnam”, these songs became hits throughout most of the world, with Bob Dylan even saying that “Vietnam” was the best protest song he had ever heard. In 1972, Jimmy again caused a stir as he starred in the Perry Henzell classic reggae film, “The Harder They Come”and scored big with the subsequent album.
Many artists have covered Jimmy Cliff songs including Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones, Joe Jackson, Cher, Joe Cocker, Willie Nelson, Joe Strummer, Jerry Garcia Band, Desmond Dekker, Madness, La Toya Jackson and New Order to name but a few.
So big congratulations to Jimmy Cliff and let’s hope that once again he may be able to bring some focus back on to some of today’s reggae heroes.

Rototom Sunsplash to relocate in Spain for 2010

Contributed photos
LEFT: Anthony B thrills onstage at Rototom Sunsplash 2008.
RIGHT: Bunny Wailer performing at Rototom.

(Article from Jamaica Gleaner, published Sunday December 6, 2009)

Krista Henry, Staff Reporter

After 16 years, of being held in Osoppo, Italy, Rototom Sunsplash is being forced to relocate to a new venue in Spain next year.

Rototom is a large European reggae festival which has taken place in Rivellino Park at the foot of the Italian Alps every summer for the last 16 years and was modelled after the traditional Reggae Sunsplash that was held in Montego Bay, Jamaica in the 1980s and early ’90s. The event offers 10 days of reggae, ragga and dancehall from Jamaican and overseas acts.

According to information sent from Sabrina Trovant, Rototom Sunsplash’s art director, the 2009 edition of the event attracted 160,000 persons from 106 countries. While the July 1-10, 2010 festival had been scheduled to take place in Osoppo, the festival and its organisers have been accused of facilitating the use of drugs, marijuana specifically, and are being charged for breaking the country’s Article 79 of the Fini-Giovanardi Law. This effectively placed a stop order on the festival in Italy, forcing organisers to relocate.

The website http://www.statewatch.org explained that the Fini-Giovanardi Law was introduced in Italy in 2006 and contains extracts from a draft law drawn up by Gianfranco Fini, who is now the president of the chamber of deputies in Italy’s Lower House of Parliament. The law promised to revolutionise the treatment of drug offences, heralding the mass criminalisation of drug users.

Lessening of distinctions

Some of its contents included the lessening of distinctions between soft and hard drugs, and between dealing, trafficking and personal use, with extremely high sentences applicable to the latter.

Trovant explained the situation saying, “According to the charges, Rototom Sunsplash ‘facilitates’ the use of cannabis, merely for the fact that it is a reggae festival. Indeed, the accusations state that ‘Rastafarian ideology provides for a close link between reggae music and marijuana’ and consequently, since the festival was attended by ‘persons who, in the context of the musical event and relative cultural environment, devoted themselves to the use of drugs, in particular hashish and marijuana’.”

She continued: “A similar interpretation of the law could target anyone who organises even the simplest reggae gig in Italy. For this reason alone, they could be charged with ‘facilitating marijuana consumption’.” According to Trovant, this is the first instance in which the law has been applied to a music festival.

The Rototom Festival has reacted to the situation by hiring a team of lawyers and has also set up a series of initiatives to inform the public about the situation. They have set up an online campaign on the festival’s website; they have published messages from prominent figures such as politicians, priests, intellectuals, journalists and artistes, including Bunny Wailer, Linton Kwesi Johnson, radio jock David Rodigan, Easy Star All Stars, Zion Train, lecturer Carolyn Cooper from University of the West Indies and others. Last week, Italian singer Alborosie released a song titled Free Rototom in support of the festival. The Italian organisation Forum Droghe (Drugs Forum) is also promoting a petition on their website.

The organisers also had a demonstra-tion concert on November 13 under the theme ‘Don’t Put Bob Marley on Trial’, which featured various artistes. Trovant concluded, “After 16 years in Italy, we are forced to move the festival to Spain, where the general atmosphere and politics are more tolerant. Details of the new location will be soon announced, probably before the end of January. We will come back to Italy only in the event of a political change that will be probably only in 2013 with the new elections.”

Reggae album sales plummett

(article from the Jamaica Gleaner – Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer)


Sean Paul (left) and Jah Cure (right)

IT has not been a good year for Jamaican pop music. Sales tracker, SoundScan, reports that music buyers in the United States showed little interest in what Jamaican artistes had to offer in 2009.

SoundScan has released sales figures to the end of October. It said, collectively, reggae/dancehall music sold just 502,171 units for the first 10 months of the year.

Leading the way was Sean Paul’s Imperial Blaze album with sales of 70,917.  That is a massive drop from sales of The Trinity, his previous album, which sold over three million copies.  The Trinity spawned the hit singles Temperature and We Be Burnin’. It was a strong follow-up to 2002′s Dutty Rock which sold more than five million units.

SoundScan is an electronic network that collects sales data from over 17,000 record stores in the United States. Its data is widely used by publications, such as Billboard magazine.

Another disappointing album was Light, from Jewish dancehall rapper Matisyahu whose previous effort, Youth, was a platinum (over one million units) seller. It sold a mere 58,698 copies three months after it hit record stores.

B Is For Bob, a children’s album of remastered Bob Marley songs, fared well for that market with 35,760 copies. Ziggy Marley, the man behind that project, saw his Family Time set clocking 36,152 copies.

Brother Julian Marley’s Awake, which was recently released, has not done well. It has sold almost 9,000 copies.

VP Records’ annual Reggae Gold compilation, continued its consistent performance with 18,949 copies.

In contrast, some of the acts VP banked on this year, folded. Chief among them was singer Tarrus Riley and deejay Mavado whose Contagious and Mr Brooks: A Better Tomorrow had dismal returns at 4,736 and 14,000, respectively.

Queen Ifrica’s highly-touted Montego Bay, released in the summer by VP, has so far sold a mere 2,726 copies. One Moment In Time by Beres Hammond, another project from the Queens, New York label, barely passed the 11,000 mark.

Jah Cure’s Universal Cure also held great expectations, but flopped with sales of 5,319 copies.Rasta Got Soul by Buju Banton fared slightly better with sales of over 8,000.

‘Best of albums’ had ‘so-so’ performances. The Very Best of Sizzla (10,000) was the best of the Jamaican offerings; only 8,845 persons bought Shaggy’s Boombastic Collection while UB40′sGreatest Hits sold 26,323.

A big surprise was Tanya Stephens’ The Hits Collection with a paltry 864 copies sold.

Reggae Sumfest TV launched

As summer draws to a close and all the great parties and concerts are now shelved to the memory bank, there is one you can relive over and again.

The website, http://www.reggaesumfest.tv, was recently launched, giving patrons the opportunity “to view the number-one reggae show of summer 2009. This virtual experience will also allow you to join the Sumfest community where all Sumfest fans can upload all of their photos, videos, chat and blog all that is Reggae Sumfest and download excerpts of the show to their smartphones.”

The website, http://www.reggaesumfest.tv, will be featured via several online syndication partners in various cities throughout the world, to include VP Records.com, GotTEMPO.com and CaribLifeCentral.com.

Setting precedence

“Www.reggaesumfest.tv, a unique platform created by CbeanMedia.tv, will set precedence for the syndication of Caribbean content using new media platforms,” commented Sherra Pierre-March, CEO and founder of Cbeanmedia.tv.

“CbeanMedia.tv is committed to the expansion and extension of all Caribbean brands using sophisticated Internet streaming players, mobile applications and online community platforms.”

The website will feature some of the best performances from each night of the event and will feature the likes of Beenie Man, Tarrus Riley, D’Angel, Rhaatid, Flippa Mafia, I-Octane and Tito Jackson, who received a lifetime achievement award from the festival organisers on behalf of his brother, Michael.

Pay-per-view

CbeanMedia.tv said the pay-per-view feature would cost US$5.99, with mobile downloads starting at US$3.99. The organisers are also offering a prize of airline tickets and passes to Reggae Sumfest 2010. Persons uploading comedic content can also win tickets to next year’s show.

“Earn valuable points for each piece of content you upload and become part of the Sumfest VIP Club. We’re really creating a virtual Reggae Sumfest universe,” said Marcia McDonnough, the festival’s marketing manager.

Overdue initiative

“This initiative is certainly overdue,” commented Johnny Gourzong, the executive director of Summerfest Productions. “We believe this is the next natural step for Reggae Sumfest. While we would certainly wish that everyone could come to Jamaica to see the festival live, we know it’s not possible, so this will be a way of giving more people a taste of this event that we are so proud of.

“We hope also that it will encourage anyone who had been hesitating to come to Jamaica for Reggae Sumfest to start making their plans now for next year’s festival, so that they can experience the full effect of the ‘Greatest Reggae Show on Earth’.” (From Jamaica Gleaner, October 2009)


LEST WE FORGET PETER TOSH, FREE I, DOC BROWN

Last Friday, September 11, 2009, had immense global historical significance. This date is traditionally celebrated in Ethiopia as New Year’s Day according to its ancient Julian Calendar.

PETER TOSH: Left a rich musical legacy

Since 2001, it took on new meaning in the western world as for the past eight years the calamity that was 9/11, is being commemorated. Not to be left out is one of Jamaica’s greatest misfortunes and reggae’s most tragic losses, the brutal slaying of Peter Tosh, along with his associates broadcaster Free I, and Winston “Doc” Brown.

But whereas in the Americas, the day was solemnly observed, in Jamaica the day went by almost imperceptibly. One is fully aware that the greater focus is placed on Peter Tosh’s birthday, but given the extent of the gravity of the sordid incident on that fateful night of Friday September 11, 1987, a day of remembrance and deep reflection should be established.

Lest we forget, the dust was settled from the brutal attack by gun-hawks on Peter Tosh’s Plymouth Avenue residence at Barbican in Kingston, Doc Brown who was shot in the head died on the spot, Tosh shot twice in the head was pronounced dead later that night in the intensive care unit at the University Hospital and Free I who also took two bullets in the head died in hospital a few days later.

Tosh’s female companion, Marlene Brown, was grazed in the head, Free I’s wife (Joy Dixon) was shot in the mouth and leg, Tosh’s drummer Carlton Davis was shot in the stomach and in the hand. And one Michael Robinson was shot three times; one bullet hit him in the head, another went through his legs and another lodged in his back.

To undertsand the full measure of the loss to Jamaica and reggae music from this incident, one only has to revist Dr Omar Davis’ paper presented on Peter Tosh at the Bob Marley’s lecture a few years ago.

“In looking at Tosh’s domestic social commentary, one saw from his earliest days an outpouring of music highlighting the injustices, which he percieved then in the society. These songs include You Can’t Blame the Youth, 400 Years , Stop That Train and Sinner Man which later became Downprwessor Man.

“As his music evolved, we had Haffi Get a Beaten, Mark of the Beast, and his concern about the dominance of materialism in our society in Pound Get a Blow and The Day the Dollar Died.

“In preparing for this lecture, I must state that I have become even more aware of the consistency of his protest as well as his ability to frame that protest into popular form, even while remaining at the frontier of the changes in the music, from ska to rock steady to reggae,” Dr Davis noted.

The former Minister of Finance concluded, “There are many who would be suprised that the Minister of Finance maintains a deep interest in the development of our pop music. Such expressions of suprise would be derived from an inability to understand that each of us is the product of our experiences and and enviroment. I can relate very vividly to difficult periods in my life when the music produced by our artistes played a critical role in stabilizing me in times of tension, motivating me in times of depression and reinvigorating me in periods of stagnation. Peter Tosh is one such artiste and for the body of work which he left us, I feel obliged to give thanks.”

And no lesser person than the Reverend Canon Ernle Gordon said in his 2007 Peter Tosh’s Lecture, that if you listen to the Stepping Razor or the Mystic Man as Tosh often dubbed himself, there’s a link between philosophy, epistemology and theology. “What Peter Tosh has done for theology is to move it up a notch,” Rev Gordon said then.
(Basil Walters Observer staff reporter Sunday, September 13, 2009)


SEAN PAUL BLAZES THE BILLBOARD ALBUM CHARTS WITH IMPERIAL BLAZE

Sean Paul’s Imperial Blaze album for VP/Atlantic sold 28,465 copies in its opening week to register a number 12 debut on the Billboard 200 album chart. The sales impact though not as huge as his previous opening in 2005, was enough to land the set to the top of Billboard’s Reggae album chart. Over on Billboard’s R&B Hip Hop album chart, Imperial Blaze lit up the number three spot.


CHARLY B”  FROM FRANCE WINNER OF REGGAE EUROPE’s 2009 COMPETITION FOR THE BEST SONG

Tuesday, August 3, 2009

Charly B during a concert in Switzerland

Charly B during a concert in Switzerland

For this first competition, we mainly had participants from Europe, but also from Africa and America (USA).

The winner of REGGAE EUROPE 2009 COMPETITION for the best song is CHARLY B FROM FRANCE (www.myspace.com/charlyb), WITH THE SONG “ My Sound “.

Charly B wins the prize of 5,000 euros; in addition, Reggae Europe will finance, in collaboration with Geejam Studios, the recording of a single at Geejam Studios in Port Antonio, Jamaica, and the recording of two videos. CONGRATULATIONS CHARLY B!

THANKS TO ALL THE PARTICIPANTS!

Post-humus award for Joe Higgs

Sunday July 26, 2009


Joe Higgs, the man credited with nurturing the career of the Wailers, will be one of the honorees at the Tribute To The Greats show scheduled for the Curphey Place in St Andrew on August 1.

Higgs, who died from cancer in the United States in December 1999 at age 59, was a mentor to the budding harmony group which formed in Trench Town during the early 1960s. The group had several hit songs including Simmer Down, Lonesome Feeling and It Hurts To Be Alone.

Three of its members, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, became reggae superstars a decade later.

Higgs was an established artiste when he met the Wailers. In 1958, he and Roy Wilson (as Higgs and Wilson) recorded the hit song, Manny Oh, for producer Edward Seaga.

Others to be honoured are performer/producer Winston Riley; Keith Lyn, former singer with Byron Lee and the Dragonaires; musician/artiste Charles ‘Charlie Organaire’ Cameron; tour promoter/booking agent Copeland Forbes; Winston ‘Wee Pow’ Powell of Stone Love Movement; journalist Basil Walters; promoter Victor Chen and band leader Harold Richardson.

Tributes To The Greats is the brainchild of Kingsley Goodison, who has followed the local music scene since the early 1960s. First held in 1998, the event has honoured several pioneers of reggae music including Seaga, Jamaica’s fifth prime minister; Theophilus Beckford; Marcia Griffiths; Toots Hibbert and Leroy Sibbles. (From the Jamaican Gleaner)

SWEDISH REGGAE FESTIVAL

CHALLENGES THE WORLD OF REGGAE

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Uppsala Reggae Festival challenges reggae festivals and media of the world to accept the ‘Life is Great’ challenge, a positivity project geared towards making people express the greatness in life.

Yared Tekeste, founder of Uppsala Reggae Festival in Sweden, thinks this world needs more reggae spirit: “There are so many wonderful things in the world, but we need to help each other understand and appreciate them. Therefore Uppsala Reggae Festival encourages all reggae media and festivals to challenge their audience to share the joy and optimism in a creative and generous manner.”

As an example Yared mentions the positivity project, Life is Great. Through a blog people are contributing with art, photos, poetry, video, music and share their ideas on Life is Great (www.lifeisgreat09.blogspot.com). The best material will then be published in magazines and exposed at Uppsala Reggae Festival 2009, which has Life is Great as a festival theme this year.

“The Life is Great concept, including the logo, may be used by all reggae lovers who accept the challenge,” says Tekeste.

Uppsala Reggae Festival

Uppsala Reggae Festival is northern Europe’s biggest reggae festival. Each year the festival brings some of the biggest stars of reggae to Uppsala just north of Stockholm and attracts around 20,000 visitors during three days. The festival is one of the most popular summer festivals in the otherwise dark and cold Scandinavia, where the sun goes down at noon during the winter and the short summer is celebrated as the highlight of the year.

This year, a unique mix of legends and young rising stars are presented and in addition to the music, there will also be Reggae Soccer, Reggae Cinema and Life is Great art exhibitions.

“Reggae is advancing in Scandinavia and that is not all due to the music, but also because of the culture and lifestyle. People are looking for new ways to meet, and now more than ever the world needs us to spread the positivity,” says Yared.

International artistes down to perform at Uppsala this year include Alpha Blondy, Busy Signal, Third World, Ky-Mani Marley, Don Carlos, Etana, Junior Kelly, Lutan Fyah, The Heptones, Collie Buddz & The New Kingston Band, David Rodigan, King Jammy’s Super Power, TOK, Rootz Underground, Ziggi & The Renaissance Band, Komposti Sound, Inna Yard All Stars feat Cedric ‘Congo’ Myton, Linval Thompson, Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith, Kiddus I, The Viceroys, Deraja and Matthew McNuff.

Swedish artistes performing this year are Svenska Akademien, Jaqee, Kultiration, Syster Sol, Governor Andy, Hoffmaestro Chraa, Nazarenes, Meditative Sound, Safari Sound, Junior Natural, Roots Circus and Rootvälta.
(from the Jamaican Observer)

REGGAE AND INTERNATIONAL LABELS HURTING

Reggae and international labels are struggling amidst the economic downturn which is silencing music.

Reggae labels complain of erratic international markets whilst the ‘Big Four’ record companies (Universal, Sony, Warner and EMI) posted lower sales by as much as 22 per cent, the only area of growth was online music.

VP and Greensleeves

“It is an extremely difficult year,” said Olivier Chastan, VP Records vice-president and head of Greensleeves Records.

Sales targets have been up 20 per cent one moment then down 40 the next, he said from his London office.

“Based on the current conditions I really don’t know if it changes so much from month to month.”

Last year Chastan stated that Greensleeves posted a quarterly profit.

Beyoncé among the artistes with best-selling albums during the quarter for Sony Music.

“If this was October I probably would have told you that we would be profitable, but the way things are moving now I honestly don’t know,” said Chastan who continues to publish music but has not signed any new artistes.

“We are putting out a new Tarrus Riley album, Mavado, and maybe a new Busy Signal album. So we are still active,” he said. “We are putting out new products and this costs more money than signing new artistes. There is the manufacturing, marketing and promotion, which is extremely costly. So we are selective obviously.”

VP acquired Greensleeves last January for some £3.1 million, it now controls the bulk of the reggae market.

Tads Records

“Sales are down since October or November,” said Tads principal Tad Dawkins who won an EME award for Ultimate Reggae Dancehall Experience ’08. “January to March is usually a slow period but the world economic downturn has put another spin on it. Because people do not have the extra income to buy music.”

Tads, which controls under five per cent of the market, expects the industry to rebound within two years. More than ever, he says record executives are looking for “big hits” to fillip sales.

“If She’s Royal came out today, that would stimulate the market. If we had two or three big hits, that would help right now,” he said.

Sony Music Entertainment (SME)

SME sales dropped 22 per cent in the quarter to US$1.1 billion, when its merger with BMG is desegregated (but its up 102 per cent when aggregated).

“Revenues were negatively impacted by the accelerated decline in the worldwide physical music market resulting from the worldwide economic slowdown, as well as unfavourable exchange rates. Best-selling albums during the quarter included AC/DC Beyoncé, Pink and Britney Spears,” said Sony in its latest report.

Last October, Sony completed its acquisition of Bertelsmann AG’s (“Bertelsmann”) 50 per cent stake in Sony BMG. It paid some US$600-million net cash for the buy-out, and hence is referred to as SME.

Warner Music Group

Warner’s December first-quarter results showed total sales dropping 11 per cent from the prior-years quarter to US$878 million.

“Though facing difficult economic conditions and tough prior-year comparisons, we executed on our strategy and remain confident in achieving our long-term goals,” said Edgar Bronfman Jr, Warner’s chairman and CEO in its financial report. Major sellers in the quarter included the Twilight soundtrack, Seal, Nickelback, Enya and Johnny Hallyday. Warner posted a US$23-million profit versus a US$16-million loss over the prior year’s quarter. That was good news as Warner has posted annual losses four times in five years (US$56 million loss in 2008). Its worst year was 2004 when it made a US$1.4- billion loss due to an impairment or asset write-off. But what is probably more telling is that its annual revenues remain flat over the five years at some US$3.5 billion. The only real growth area was online or digital music, which grew 39 per cent (US$639 million.) Its physical CD sales dipped 5 per cent to US$2 billion.

Universal Music Group

Universal sales declined 3.8 per cent to $3.1 million up to September for nine months even as its earning jumped 21.8 per cent to $408 million (before interest, taxation and amortisation were subtracted or EBITA). Vivendi Group, which owns Universal, does not disclose the company’s net position.

Though sales dipped its digital music sales jumped 30 per cent. Its top five selling artistes

sold half-a-million more units (physical and digital albums) this year than last at $16.3 million, top 5 were Duffy-$3.7 million; Amy Winehouse-$3.6 million; Mamma Mia!-$3.4 million; Lil Wayne-$3 million; and Jack Johnson-$2.6 million.

EMI

The group expects sales to dip due to the global economic downturn.

“The downturn will also affect advertising sales, at a time when licensing music for advertising is an increasingly important market for the industry. No music business will be immune to these changes,” said Lord Birt, EMI chairman in his half-year report. But EMI is also concerned about the loss of UK music retail space due
to the “demise of Woolworth’s and Zavvi”.

Just before world markets declined, EMI’s six-month revenues to September increased 10 per cent to £737 million. Its results were aided by its digital revenues, which were up nearly 50 per cent.

Group EBIDTA (EBITA plus depreciation) was up 202 percent at £130 million compared with £43 million in the previous six- month period. This is encouraging news for EMI which has not made a profit since 2006. It racked up £258- million loss in 2008.

“This half-yearly report gives grounds for qualified optimism about the progress EMi is making against the backdrop of a deteriorating world economy, EMI has improved both its revenues and its profitability. Music is being appreciated and consumed in a multiplicity of new ways,” Birt conceded that the company will post a loss for 2009.

Its annual revenues have also steadily fallen from £2.1 billion in 2003 to £1.4 billion last year. EMI which was bought out in 2007 by Maltby Group and have streamlined a number of functions to improve efficiency. For 2009 they will release songs Beyoncé, Kanye West, Hinder, The Priests, Jamie Cullum, Ben Harper, Jay-Z, Kasabian, J-Kwon, Ludacris, The Pretenders, Simply Red, Starsailor, Take That and The Prodigy.  - ((From the Jamaican Observer, By Stephen Jackson – 2/2009)

JARIA board of directors nominees selected


Queen Ifrica

Celebrated members of Jamaica’s music industry, including Tony Rebel, King Jammys, Assassin, Queen Ifrica and Freddie McGregor, have been nominated to be on the board of the newly formed Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JARIA). The organisation closed nominations for the election of its first board of directors on Tuesday, April 28 at midnight.

JARIA made its formal entry on the music scene with the stellar Jamaica Reggae Industry Association Honours Awards which closed Reggae Month 2009 at the Hilton Kingston hotel. The board will be composed of the seven elected positions, the chairpersons of the five sub-committees and representatives from affiliate organisations.(from Jamaican Gleaner, May 5, 2009)

T.O.K. shoots ‘Guardian Angel’

T.O.K.

Dancehall quartet T.O.K. began filming the music video for their acclaimed single,Guardian Angel, during the last leg of their United States tour. The release of the video will coincide with that of their third album Our World, which is scheduled for release in Japan on June 16. Since becoming the number one ringtone in Japan, Japanese fans have been clamouring for more of the hit single, leading them to make the decision to do the video. The song was recorded over a year ago.

The video was shot on location in Miami at the Circle House Recording Studio, with additional scenes from T.O.K.’s performance at South Beach’s Sobe Live. The video is being directed by Ras Kassa and Ras Tingle.

Our World will be released on August 25, through VP Records. (from Jamaican Gleaner, May 5, 2009)

Mr Vegas hosts Mother’s Day concert on May 9, 2009


Mr Vegas

Mr Vegas will be hosting a Mother’s Day concert at Club Jamaica Jamaica in Runaway Bay on May 9.

Mr Vegas is reportedly locked away in rehearsals fine-tuning his sound for the concert. He will be backed by his band, Thugz.

“They have been rehearsing at Mikie Bennett’s studio on Grafton Road and everyone is impressed with the set that Mr Vegas has put together,” manager Ray Alexander was quoted as saying.

It will be the artiste’s last performance in Jamaica before he embarks on a four-week tour of major European cities, beginning on July 17. He will break for a one-off performance on July 25 in Rochester, New York, and then return to Europe to complete the tour. Mr Vegas will not return to Jamaica until August 25. (From Jamaican Gleaner May 5, 2009)

Reggae Sumfest Festival 2009 feeling the economic crisis

With Jamaica and the rest of the world seemingly in the throes of a massive economic downturn, the organizers of Jamaica’s biggest reggae event – Reggae Sumfest – are reportedly seeking government assistance / sponsorship (via the Jamaica Tourist Board – JTB). In effect, they’re seeking sponsorship similar to the US$500,000 (J$44.5 million) that was gifted to the annual Jamaica Jazz Festival earlier this year.

If successful, it would make the JTB a major sponsor of the annual reggae event which has been severely affected by a lack of private sponsorship, especially with the withdrawal of Red Stripe beer last year. The JTB has however cautioned that it will likely be unable to offer as much as was offered to the Jazz Festival due to the economic downturn. Still though, it seems the discussions and negotiations are well underway and that Reggae Sumfest 2009 should be on as usual – July 19-25, 2009. (from local Jamaican xnews).

Assassin removed from Red Stripe Live stage

“On Saturday March 28, 2009, my performance at the Red Stripe Live concert was ended prematurely and abruptly, as I was stripped of my microphone and escorted off stage. I have spent many years of hard work and sacrifice building my reputation and brand as an artist, with a great level of integrity and professionalism. Indeed, the decision to include me in the line-up of this particular event is testament to that. I therefore have a responsibility to my fans and the general public to explain exactly what took place.” (Assasin)

Amy Winehouse

Amy WinehouseThe British singer Amy Winehouse spent the winter holiday in a small Caribbean island called St. Lucia.

The artist used the fact that the Caribbean to record some songs for their third album and follow up its successful”Black To Black”. Amy chose to record the new songs on instruments of reggae, who did not like much the idea were the executives of their label, Island Records, who rejected all subjects recorded the singer on the island.
“Amy was very productive during their stay in St. Lucia,” a source told the Daily Mirror newspaper. “She wrote many songs, but most of them were not made to reach the market. She seems to have tired of his sound “Vintage Soul” and now feel it is strongly influenced by reggae, “said the source.

It seems his new album will be released by Island records, but will not in any way recorded on the island.

Source: Daily Mirror

Buju Banton & Penthouse split

3 April 2009

After 18 years of working together, Buju Banton and Penthouse split. From now on,  Donovan Germain will not manage Buju Banton’s carrier any longer .  Buju Banton will be his own manager with is own label, Gargamel Music.

He is setting up one of the best studios in Jamaica, which is costing millions of Jamaican dollars: Gargamel Music Studios – 10 Carlisle Ave., Kingston 8 – Jamaica, West Indies

ENGINEERS
Name: Jermaine Reid

Title: Audio Engineer/In-House Producer

Represents: Maxfield Avenue, Kingston 13

Duties: Keep music part of business running: Record Vocals, Mix Tracks, Build Hot Riddims

Musical Influences: Channel One, Pinchers, Peter Metro, Half Pint

Instruments: Keyboards & Drum Machine

Mentors: Junior Reid, Buju Banton, Anthony Hibbert

Collie Buddz in Paris

Below, Collie Buddz in concert in Paris – photos taken by Reggae France:

Luciano beaten with iron pipe (February 25 – March 3, 2009)

Reggae singer Luciano is recovering from a vicious iron pipe attack allegedly ‘engineered’ by his former engineer Freckles at the Esso Service Station at the corner of Constant Spring Road and Dunrobin Avenue in St. Andrew, last Friday.

According to anecdotal reports, the Messenger singer had groceries in his hands and was busy chatting with a friend when he was ambushed.

“Luciano was attacked from behind with an iron pipe. He could have been killed, the blow to the head knocked him out cold,” one source said.
“The doctors had to remove two of his locks and he got six stitches. His entourage was not with him at the time so Freckles planned the attack and almost killed him.”
Luciano, who is known for the mega hit ‘Sweep Over My Soul’ and the number one UK hit ‘Shake It Up Tonight’,
reported the matter to the Half-Way-Tree police who are now seeking to question Freckles in connection with the attack.
The source said Luciano and Freckles had a long running dispute which stemmed from performances they did together in Australia in May last year.
“He took the engineer to Australia but when they returned the engineer kept on asking Luciano for more money. Even though he was paid handsomely for his work on the tour, he came to Luciano’s house and asked why Luciano never give him some of the dub plate money he worked while on tour. He and Luciano got into a fight and Luciano’s entourage rushed him and beat him to a pulp,” the source said.
That altercation happened in June 2008. However, a chance encounter eight months later at a service station almost ended in tragedy for Luciano last Friday.
“When he saw Luciano at the Dunrobin gas station by himself, he must have believed that it was time for some payback so he attacked him from behind.”
Meanwhile, Luciano who was once known as Jah Messenjah when he was a member of the Fattis Burrell Xterminator label, is appealing to members of the public and the entertainment fraternity not to harm Freckles.
“Luci doesn’t want anything to happen to him . You know how he is, he loves peace, but he was warned about this man and now he has learned a cruel lesson, but he doesn’t want Freckles to be harmed. The law should take its course,” the source said.
Luciano, whose real name is Jepther McClymont O.D., is an award-winning singer who has received numerous awards, including Most Spiritual and Educative Singer and Mandela’s Most Cultural Artist. He even received a plaque from the Jamaican government to encourage him in his work.

El creador de “No woman no cry”, Vicent Ford, ha muerto

March 8, 2009

Bob Marley, No woman no cry

more about “El creador de “No woman no cry”, Vice…“, posted with vodpod

FRANCE said to be biggest reggae country outside of Jamaica

Jamaican engineer and producer Sam Clayton Jr has been living in France long enough to know a lot of what’s happening there, especially in the music industry. So when Clayton Jr, during a recent visit to Jamaica, told us that France is reggae music’s biggest market outside of Jamaica, he spoke with the authority of someone in the know.

“I know France is the biggest reggae country outside of Jamaica. Yes, it’s a bigger market than the US, it’s a bigger market than England,” asserted Clayton Jr, whose father is well-known Rastafari elder, Brother Sam Clayton, leader of the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari.

Clayton Jr, who was here with the band Natty Dread working on an album at the Harry J Recording Studio, based his conclusion on the number of bookings being made for reggae artistes in France, the frequency of the music on French radio, and the growing popularity of the Jamaican practice of sound system clashes, though he did not give any numbers.

I think France is where England was 20, 30 years ago,” he said. “In terms of discovering reggae music, learning about it, that’s where France is today.”

He said that at least once per year he would work with a band in France that wants to come to Jamaica. “It’s a big dream for a lot of bands who want to come here and work,” he told the Sunday Observer. “Usually, most of the bands are reggae bands. And they come for the sound, they come for the experience, they all come to learn, everybody comes also to get some of our musicians working on their project. And it’s a big learning process for them to come here and work.”
Clayton Jr, who speaks French as fluently as he speaks English, said without any doubt reggae and hip hop are the music most played on the radio in France.

The French, he said, have not only embraced reggae music but also the culture and the trends that go along with it.
“They have embraced all forms of reggae music, from ska to dancehall,” he said. “And one of the big novelties today in France is to have sound clashes between sound systems. There are a lot of sound systems in France – well, a lot of sound systems all over Europe – but in France, every day a new sound system is arriving on the scene.”

Influenced by Bob Marley and Rastafari, the band Natty Dread is the first reggae outfit from Reunion Island, an overseas department of France located east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

According to Clayton Jr, Reunion Island, which is smaller than Jamaica, has “a significant Rastafarian population” .

The band, he said, has been in existence for 15 years. “They were the first reggae band in the Indian Ocean region,” he told the Sunday Observer. “They started listening to reggae first by listening to, of course, Bob Marley, then to the two records of the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari. They have embraced all forms of reggae music. Of course, everywhere you go in the Indian Ocean region there is reggae; reggae is very popular there.”

He pointed out also that there are a lot of bands in that region that play reggae, but they are not considered reggae bands or Rasta bands. Natty Dread, he said, is a group of real Rastafarian brethren who play reggae music. “Their music deals with social issues, deals with political issues and generally speaking, topical issues,” he said.

(By Basil Walters Sunday Observer staff reporter waltersb@jamaicaobserver.com)




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