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FUTURE MUSIC

 

One of the greatest compliments PANDA! ever received was said by guitar player Errol Moore in the doorway to the dressing room of The Independent in San Francisco, CA. To be clear, it was the supporting band’s dressing room, and it wasn’t exactly a compliment, though we took it as one.

We were on tour, supporting the legendary Jamaican singing group Israel Vibration. They were backed by the Roots Radics Band, who made us even more starstruck. Errol played guitar for the Radics on the tour. While he was not a foundational member, he had been playing with the group on and off for twenty years and had warranted quite a level of respect from us as an older reggae musician.

This was the last night of the tour. Radics had been slaying it night after night. This band is foundation roots reggae. When you hear Gregory Isaac’s “Night Nurse” warming up a sound system, that is the Roots Radics Band playing the riddim. Errol “Flabba” Holt, the bass player, can be found on a majority of reggae riddims from 1975 on. I credit the Radics for popularizing the next wave of reggae after the one-drop. It is the groove that birthed hip hop, and for a more localized reference, dominates popular west coast reggae. Think Sublime.

One of the coolest things about Errol Moore’s playing during the tour was that he used little to no effects. It was just his guitar plugged straight into the Fender Super Reverb amp. Sometimes he used a Boss Flanger pedal, but for the most part the tone was clean. None of the crazy heavy metal shredder guitar sounds that can be heard throughout live reggae music today. Giant Panda loves a good clean guitar out of a Fender amp. There is really nothing like it.

On this tour, Israel Vibration was bringing some of the most classic reggae sounds we had ever had the pleasure to be around. We were in bliss. These guys were top level heroes to us. Old school, super roots, and keeping it that way. Ironically, Errol Moore expressed to us in the dressing room that last night that he had in fact forgotten to bring his pedal board with him on the tour, and it was only by default that he had been using this set up, the minimalism of which we so admired. Had he had it, the music may have been much different.

Izzy Vibes and the Radics band had all warmed up to us personally throughout the course of the tour. They were one of the most respectful groups we had been around, and we greatly appreciated their collegiality.

I think that for good reason, there is some stigma in the reggae world about young middle-to-upper class white kids touring around the country playing reggae. It seems possible that the older Jamaican bands would be sensitive to it. Reggae touring does take place in a political economy after all. It is a competitive work place.

The stigma seems to be only in theory though, because every Jamaican reggae band we have ever worked with has been totally cool to us. However, there is no denying that there is a bit of the Elvis phenomenon going on in the reggae scene today. In many cases, these young American bands are making quite a bit more money than foundation bands such as, well, Israel Vibration and the Roots Radics Band.

I remember during that same trip I stood in the house of Jon Phillips, and stared at his Sublime Sublime 5x multi-platinum record hanging on the wall with my jaw open, fully aware of the irony that we had not yet had one sold out show in California with Israel Vibration and the Roots Radics Band. Roots Radics Band were probably the greatest influence on the music of Sublime.

The financial success of Sublime came with a strange balance though. Bradley was certainly dead before any of that 5x multi platinum money came in. Even if he hadn’t been, his lifestyle nearing the time of the albums release would have probably ensured death, with the excess that cash like that can bring to the table that a guy like Brad would have been sitting at. Who knows. Maybe so maybe not, but it happened how it happened.  Israel Vibration was alive and kicking, but they weren’t pulling in anywhere near the kind of cash that Sublime does today. The irony was not lost on Jon either. Jon is a conscious music lover and there is no doubt that the double edged sword of success that he experienced as Sublime’s manager was loaded with heaviness surrounding Bradley’s death, reggae music, and the future of Sublime.

So like I said, this was the last show, and two nights previous we had given Skelly Vibes a copy of our 2006 debut album Slow Down after our show together at the Key Club in Hollywood. Errol came to our dressing room and said:

“Hey, we listened to your CD in the bus, and it’s really good”

“Wow. Thanks!”

“I mean it’s really good, but it’s REALLY old sounding”

“Wow. Thanks man. That is a huge compliment coming from you”

“No man. I mean, like, it sounds REALLY old. Like, I haven’t heard music like that since my grandfather listened to it when I was like 6 years old! Like early ’70s. Too old!”

“umm…..thanks?”

“See, you don’t understand.  Jamaicans move forward. We are done with that stuff. That roots reggae stuff. It’s old. It’s done. You have to move on”

“No way man. The roots reggae is better. It is better music. We like it more!”

“Yeah. See…YOU all…can go around and play this old roots music and people will love it, because you are young, white, and cute. But us older, black guys, we can’t do it. Nobody will come. Nobody will care. You have to move on. Make new music. You should hear my solo stuff. It is crazy futuristic.”

Was Errol correct? Errol Moore is a sick guitar player. Anything he does is great, but up until that point, we had a particular respect for his roots aesthetic and his apparent devotion to the sounds of reggae’s golden age. In fact, it was simply a mishap. Errol expressed that he had felt extremely limited the whole tour. He appreciates and respects the simple sound, but it bores him quickly.

I can’t express enough how great Izzy Vibes and the Radics were to tour with. Crushing reggae music every night. It was ironic to us that Errol was so adamant about roots reggae being in the past, while currently playing in what to us was a fully roots reggae band.

Israel Vibration and the Roots Radics Band were having successful tours. The crowds on the tour were large and full of devoted live music fans young and old. However, the Independent is a 500 capacity nightclub in San Francisco. After being on tour with Izzy Vibes, we jumped on with Rebelution, a fantastic Santa Barbara reggae band comprised of non-Jamaican Cali kids, all under the age of 30. I think every show was sold out. Every venue was over 1,000 capacity. They currently play even huger venues. Most of Rebelution’s beats can be traced back to Style Scott’s original Roots Radics beat, dubbed the “pendulum” by the American reggae drumming great Tommy Benedetti of JBB, “because of the precise 2 & 4 backbeat.” There are some official names for certain reggae grooves. Ska, Rocksteady, One-Drop, Rockers, Dancehall etc. I asked Tommy the name of this beat that is the foundation of West Coast reggae and the back beat of bands such as Sublime and Rebelution. Tommy said that there is no official name for this popular beat, and while he tries to not reference Sublime when talking reggae grooves, he knew what I meant when I asked him for the official reggae name of the “Sublime” beat…..

So there is truth to all of what Errol was saying.

Musically speaking, Jamaica has been consistently ahead of the rest of the world in popular music creation since the inception of Ska in the ’60s. Live, original, roots reggae reminiscent of the golden age of reggae (’69-’81 roughly) is pretty hard to come by in my limited experience visiting Jamaica. When I asked around for it, people often tell me things along the same line of what Errol had to say. That music is old. Grandparents music.

“That music doesn’t bring the pussy to club” – a random Travelers Beach Resort DJ, Negril, JA.

In fact, when Panda played in Jamaica in 2007, we were humbled at how nostalgic some of the older Jamaicans got when they heard our one drops. It was like they had forgotten about it. It was as if a long lost friend had returned and reminded them of the good old days. It was educational for us to say the least. We were proud that they appreciated our effort, but we were concerned as to where those classic rhythms went.

One thing about people living in third world nations that needs to be understood, is that they get technology just as fast as everyone else does. The third world is actually the biggest market for gadgets. What is lacking in infrastructure in the third world does not accurately reflect the people’s connection with new technology. They just seem to receive access to modern technology in disproportionate ways. Proper school buildings and education materials, water filtration and sanitation system, adequate access to electricity and telecommunications, and public transpiration are certainly not where they need to be for the general public in Jamaica. However, there is plenty of bluetooth headsets, mp3 players, flash drives, LED everything, cell phones, computers, etc being passed around, bartered, modified, and sold. Any kind of electrical gadget you see anywhere else in the world is being utilized in Jamaica, probably with more efficiency and innovation. A rash generalization, yes, but that has been my experience of observation.

On my last trip to Negril, we got picked up at the airport by a friend of a friend, Eddie. Eddie has been solid on driving many of our friends the 50 miles from Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport to the vacation town of Negril for the past few years.

(Side note…One thing I have not made clear enough in these articles is that my only Jamaican experience has been in Negril. 3x, but only Negril. Negril is a tourist destination. It does not represent most of Jamaica. It has a large tourism industry that affects everything in the town. Most of what I have written about Jamaica reflects the effects of tourism on a community more than it should reflect what I know about everyday life in Jamaica for Jamaicans, which is very little.)

Eddie is a great dude for the job. Jamaica driving is a little bit on the dangerous side of things, and Eddie will take you safely in his 94 white Toyota Camry (one of the better cars ever made IMHO) along the beautiful North West coast of Jamaica. Eddie is not overly chatty but he is also not cold. Just a real dude.

“What’s happening in Jamaica Eddie?”

Eddie proceeds to insert the tiny flash drive directly into the stereo faceplate of the car. It lights up. Electric blue! The LED screen begins to read off the artists playing. Busy Signal, Tarrus Riley, Jah Cure, Chuck Fender, Ninjaman, Mavado, Vybz Kartel, Beenie Man, I-Octane. Eddie is singing along with most of the tunes, something that is pretty memorable about the drive for most that go, because his conviction and passion for Jamaican contemporary music is blatant and beautiful.

Pop music is a huge deal in Jamaica. That is an understatement. I cannot really explain properly in this entry how much of a force it is in Jamaican culture. It is important to just about everybody. Everyone knows who is hot. Everybody knows the tunes at the top of the charts. There is a currency of information embedded in each tune. The status of sex, the government, celebrities, love life, dance life, gang life, drug running, and public outcry over impoverished living conditions are common subjects in contemporary Jamaican music. It is the pulse of culture. You really can go to the radio to find out what is going on in Jamaica. This has probably been the case since ska, and probably even before that with Mento and Calypso. I feel that this is probably more true in Jamaica than anywhere else in the world.

Modern dancehall has been a hard pill for me to swallow. Being a lover of golden age roots reggae, I have been quite critical of where Jamaican music has gone since its implementation of drum machines, synthesizers, and digital technology. Since the 1980’s, music has gone largely  from being analog to digital. While that is a consistently changing conversation that people write entire books about, my original argument was from a physiological standpoint. An analog wave operates differently than a digital wave (if you could even call it that…the digital wave is more of a block). Analog offers a continuous organic wave of vibration hitting a string or a drumhead that moves the air in a way that, I believe, is generally healthy to the body. Digital however, is just an illusion of a wave made up of microscopic samples with breaks in-between each one, offering the appearance of a sound wave that is actually just a code of ones and zeros. I am confident that the body subconsciously knows the difference. The outcome is that I find most modern digital music cold and alienating.

Most of these tunes I was hearing out of Eddie’s flash drive used zero live instruments. If they did, it was because it was a Bob Marley rhythm (“One Drop” – Cocoa Tea vocals) with new vocals simply added over it.  In the dancehall tunes, there is usually a snare drum sound from a drum machine keeping the major groove. The sounds and rhythms are minimal. Very repetitive. Instead of bass, guitar, organ, drum set, there is air horn, snare sample, gun clicks, traffic sounds, auto tune, synth bass, and various digital beeps.

My big revelation happened when I heard an air horn sample with auto-tune on it being used as the dancehall beat of the tune. Who auto tunes an air horn? Then uses it for the beat?! What a crazy concept! It took no time to realize that this music was just as Jamaican in inception and execution as ska, rocksteady, reggae, and dub. This was future music. Way ahead of its time. Setting the stage for music to come worldwide. Using scraps of hand me down sounds neglected by others to blend together a brand new, super hip, reggae aesthetic. Making fresh musical innovation with previously available sounds is something I find to be a major property of Jamaican music. This is what Errol was talking about. Living in the future.

To start to understand Jamaican music, you have to think about the sound system. The sound system was the original dancehall. It was outside and it was home made.  Since the 1950’s, Jamaican audio engineers have been manipulating technology in “unorthodox” ways, only to go on to set the new industry standards for the rest of the world. Building the loudest, most powerful sound systems was a matter of pride for the engineer, and sound system innovation often took on a competitive edge. Furthermore, it was important that the music being played out of those systems was engineered to take full advantage of the sonic massiveness. Hence the creation of reggae, with its huge bass and drum sound. The music was made for the system and the system was made to increase the party load. King Tubby, Duke Reid, Prince Buster, Coxsone Dodd, and other emergent DJ/Producers were interested in creating new and fresh music for their sound systems. This was the driving force that initiated the overwhelming amount of recorded music that exists from the early days of Jamaica. It wasn’t so much that artists wanted to create music as much as it was that producers wanted artists to create music in order to have the freshest hits at the dancehall…which remember, was powered by generators and outside in the streets, not at all in a hall, as no hall could accommodate the massive sound or the thousands of people that would turn up for these parties.

It seems that Jamaican producers and musicians have always taken new technology and used it differently to further the style and impact that the music has when played through a massive sound system.

Most of the dancehall that I never got into I listened to on laptop speakers, or headphones. There have not been too many times that I have been able to take the time to check music out through a two story tall sound system that has subwoofers that can be felt a mile away. I can assure you though,  that the few times that I have, a completely different story is told through the speakers.

Bass for miles. Swimming in a sea of sound. Total sonic takeover.

It is exciting to ponder the infancy of recorded and amplified sound. We are really only a little over a century in. Like a fireworks display of time and emotions, sound systems offer an enhanced human experience of performance. So while I was riding in the car with Eddy, I considered what these crazy tunes might sound like out of a giant sound system. To experience such rhythms at full capacity is truly awesome. It certainly helps one gain perspective as to where Jamaica is at with their music and why. While I still can’t say I am a huge dancehall fan, I am a huge sound system fan. I will go to a sound system and stand in front of the woofer and just vibe. The music I prefer to listen to out of a giant sound system might stray from what I put into my headphones. Party music. Release music. Bass music. Music that will automate your body. The sound system has allowed me to give digital music more of a chance.

For the record, it is these kinds of Jamaican parties that found their way to the Bronx in the late 70’s. A famous Bronxian of Jamaican origin named “Kool Herc” showed NYC the power of the sound system, and from these parties, Hip Hop emerged. Two turntables and a microphone. To me, Hip Hop is the most influential pop force on the planet. Again, that is another story and another book that has been written, but look into it. It came from reggae, and the Jamaican pastime of manipulating sound technology to bring the biggest party to the block, and now, to the world.

But Herc wasn’t playing reggae. He was playing funk. Probably to him, the most current and futuristic music available for the sound system at the time. The same reason why you might confuse modern dancehall with electro. It is all in the spirit of pushing the system to the limits and beyond.

One year before our conversation with Errol in the Independent’s supporting act dressing room, Panda found ourselves yet again rolling through the reggae soaked state of California. We had a gig at the famous Malibu Inn supporting some guy we had ignorantly never heard of, Don Carlos. We showed up early to the venue, and began to look for the house engineer to discuss when, where, and how we would set up our vintage gear which is extremely heavy and always takes up too much space for a supporting act.

As we entered into the back of the club, two Jamaican guys approached us quickly; they had realized that we were there to perform. Immediately they began asking about what kind of drum set we had, and if it was possible for them to use the snare drum. We said that before we figure out any gear sharing, we would love to talk to the engineer and just figure out what was going on for the evening. After some confusion, it was made clear that we were in fact speaking to the engineer. He introduced himself as “Hopeton the Cook”. His accent was think and we were slow, so it was hard to take seriously. Was this guy the engineer or the cook? Was it possible that he was both? Was this really the house engineer of the Malibu Inn? It is a Swanky joint, nice sound system, MALIBU! It seemed like they might employ a proper engineer who was a little more straightforward than this guy. Anyways, we started telling “Hopeton the Cook” about our gear and asking where it should go and he seemed to be emphatically stating that we would not be using our gear. We were confused. He said that we would not be allowed to use our vintage amplifiers, or our vintage keyboards, and that instead we would be plugging directly into the clubs sound system.

Part of Panda’s whole schtick, is that we use vintage gear. That gear is from the ’70s or before. It is part of the reason that we sound a little reminiscent of ’70s roots reggae. To not use it would be totally against our whole mission of music. We did not haul this dinosaur gear 3,000 miles across the country to not use it. And here was this house engineer, telling us like an insane person that we couldn’t, and he didn’t even understand why we would ever want to use it. It was all very confusing. Until, the other Jamaican guy said:

“Do you know who this guys is? This is Scientist! This is the cook! This is Scientist Mon!!”

“Scientist?! Like THE “Scientist?”

“YA MON!”

As a band, we had to kind of take a step back and confirm with each other that in fact it was totally possible that the guy we were talking to was the SCIENTIST. As in Scientist Rids The World Of The Evil Curse Of The Vampires, Scientist Wins The World Cup, Scientist Encounters Pac Man. THE Scientist who was King Tubby’s protege, and therefore a co-creator of the dub reggae aesthetic. THE Scientist whose music our reggae mentor David Gould had introduced us to when he decided to teach us about the fundamentals of reggae and dub. THE Scientist who is responsible for most of the Roots Radics recorded work. This was JUST before smart phones were everywhere, so it was not possible to google it up quick. However, this guy seemed like he probably was in fact THE Scientist, and we began to listen to his orders and do everything that he told us to do.

It turns out that Don Carlos was in Black Uhuru, the first reggae band to ever win a Grammy. One of the biggest reggae stars ever. Why had we never listened to Black Uhuru and why were we unfamiliar with Don Carlos? Because it is second generation reggae. It was popular after 1981. It employed drum machines and synthesizers and for the most part did not have one drops as the fundamental rhythm. At the time we were reggae purists. Reggae fundamentalists rather. Since that evening, we are all the wiser, and we realize that great reggae did not stop being made in 1981. The Jamaicans kept going, and they kept innovating and inspiring and evolving their music.

Don Carlos had hired Scientist to be his engineer that night, 6 April 2008. Scientist agreed that he would fulfill our reggae dreams and engineer our set if we let Wadi Gad, the drummer for Don Carlos, use our snare drum. It turns out that the Malibu Inn was supposed to get a back line drum set for the show for Wadi Gad to play. They brought a child’s drum set. Literally. A drum set for a 5 year old. It was unacceptable to use for the show, and Scientist knew that immediately. Wadi had not shown up yet. This was why he had confronted us immediately as we entered the Malibu Inn. He was desperately in need of a proper snare drum, an essential piece of the reggae sound, or the Don Carlos show would be RUINED!

So we decided to lend these legends our drum. Then we began setting up our gear. As we brought our amps onstage, the pervious conversation continued.

“No amps”

“Please, Scientist, these are part of our sound. We don’t go DI. We use these amps because they sound a certain way”

“No, you don’t need them. They are old fashioned. Now we have a sound system. You don’t need an amp”

“But Scientist, the sound of a Fender amp cannot be replicated. This is part of what we do!”

“yea, but you don’t need it anymore. It is a thing of the past. I AM your amp!”

It was a hard concept for us to grasp, but what Scientist was saying was this: Amps existed and were used before they had massive sound systems in clubs that could be manipulated from the mixing board at the front of house. The amp is just a small sound system. What was the point, of putting a microphone from a small sound system to a larger sound system when you can just plug directly into the big one? It would make his job, as the engineer, more difficult. Amps were a waste of time. He was going to dial in the tone of the guitar from the mixing board. That was how the technology was intended to work. Yes, he understood that we LIKE the sound of our amps, but it was OLD and not the way that things were done now. “Nobody uses amps” Scientist said.

We were confused, defensive, and he knew it. Scientist is a super nice guy. He didn’t want to slow up the process anymore so he said, “Fine, put your amps on stage, but I will not mic them.”

So Scientist hooked up all our instruments to DI boxes and took the straight signal from the board and colored our tones any way he saw fit. That was how he worked in the studio. That was how ALL Jamaican producers worked in the studio. It was THEIR music. As he mixed our set, he would at points take all of the guitars out of the mix. Then all of the drums. Then crazy reverb on the vocals. He even borrowed our Moog Analog Delay pedal for the entire show to Dub Don Carlos out.

When Don Carlos and his band came in, they were on the same page as Scientist. There were minimal amps onstage. Scientist was the amp. The dub was insane. It was one of the coolest concerts I ever got to experience. Check the video.

To be noted….We were the first of three bands that night. The second band also used our snare drum and broke it, leaving a very angry Wadi Gad using a child’s snare drum, cranked up to the moon. Try to watch Wadi Gad play drums sometime. I have never seen drums hit harder.

Scientist used the sound system of the Malibu Inn to its full extent. It was fucking LOUD. I don’t think that happens too much there. The house engineer, who we met throughout the night, was furious. Scientist may not have had the opportunity to mix there again. It was possibly a little too futuristic for the Malibu Inn. However, some (like Scientist) would argue that the system was designed to be used in that way. Pretty much with all the knobs at 11.

Over the past few years, festivals that Panda plays have gone through some interesting changes. I will never forget playing Rothbury in 2009. The Dead, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and Girl Talk. The older bands had about half of the field filled during their sets. Girl Talk? People spilling out of the venue like I have never seen. Bass like I had never heard. Electronic music. Using the sound system to its absolute capacity. And the crowd goes wild.

Since then, DJs have overwhelmed the festival scene. I recently saw Pretty Lights AND Major Lazar devastate crowds of 10k+. What were they doing? They are using the sound system to its absolute capacity. This bass is louder than your bass guitar. They are making music that will make the 75 ft towers of speakers sound how they look. They are taking advantage of all frequencies available. This is not music for your laptop. This is music for enormous monstrosities of audio science. This is sound technology taken to the final frontier and beyond. This spirit of musical innovation was brought to you by the producers of Jamaica. It is fun, and inspirationally impressive.

Last friday we played with the Wailers in Buffalo NY. The only remaining member who worked with Bob Marley is Aston “Family Man” Barrett. Family Man is my favorite bass player ever. Everything that he does I love and am humbled by. It was quite an experience to watch him soundcheck with drummie Zeb, who in my opinion, is also one of the greatest reggae drummers ever to live. These are the two musicians who inspired me to play reggae music. And there I was, thirteen years later, watching them play together again. It was a beautiful experience for me. Divine.

Usually I don’t talk to my heroes. Especially if they are old Jamaican men. Unless they talk to me, I figure they probably have better things to do. So while I have been around Family Man a handful of times, we have never spoken. This time was different though. He was having an issue with his bass. He turned to me and started to tell me about how Fender had not sent him any new strings in 3 years, and that the bass he was using was having an issue, and that he didn’t know if it was the neck of the bass or the strings that were having a problem. Then he spoke out about how his bass does not have active electronics. Active electronics were added into select basses since the 1980’s as a way to boost certain frequencies for a more controlled tone. It is a step toward digital. Most purists argue that it ruins the original passive bass tones that are the color on some of the best recorded music in history from MoTown to Tuff Gong. It is another argument against technology and for a fundamentalist analog philosophy. Family Man was going on about how they don’t make basses like they used to. “Active electronics are unnecessary” he said. You can still get powerful bass through analog electronics. Family Man is an advocate for analog sounds. He believes that they are better. They are warmer. They are healthier for the body.

C-Money, formerly of John Brown’s Body, and currently of Slightly Stoopid, did a FANTASTIC interview with Family Man from the MoBoogie loft where Family Man discusses his history with the bass, his love of analog music, and his hope that the youth of today give analog signals a chance before they submit to the digital age.

How does it end? It doesn’t. Family Man was also pumping those speakers in Buffalo to their capacity, no digital enhancement needed. It is what he does. He is learning how to innovate in a different way. He is still using the system in the Jamaican way. To the max.

The future of music is bright. Modern technology is enhancing our ability to be moved by sound waves. There will continue to be lots of experimentation. As for me? I still like the old stuff better. I am with Family Man. I saw him do what the DJs do. He moves the crowd with his bass bombs.

As for the innovation. Innovate away. I’m loving Pretty Lights and Major Lazer live. Damian Marley put on one of the best reggae shows I’ve ever seen. I look forward to hearing the future music coming out of Jamaica for years to come, and enjoying it out of huge sound systems. Bob Marley famously alluded once to the infancy of reggae music. It is bound to grow, change, and continue to test the limits of modern technology.

The Wailers get a bad rap as being a cover band. Yes, they have been playing the same tunes for 30 years. They happen to be some of the best tunes ever written, and the guy playing the bass, the lead instrument in reggae music, co-wrote those tunes with Bob Marley. Therefore they are not covers. I have yet to hear music as good coming from anywhere else in the world. Family Man and Drummie Zeb are holding down the fort. However, the rest of the group is far from analog. They are playing the parts on what I would call inferior instruments. I am never sure if it is a matter of economics, or just the changing tastes of musicians, but to me, Marley music is supposed to be made with Hammond Organs, Fender Rhodes, Fender Tube Amps, and real brass trumpets, trombones, and woodwind saxophones. My gripe with seeing most older reggae bands live, is that they do not go to the effort to employ these instruments in the way that Panda does. Why don’t they? There are a million reasons that Panda has experienced as to WHY people have stopped using these instruments. They are expensive, they are heavy, they break, and they are limited, just like Errol complained about. Why should you use them? Because it is the best thing for that particular type of music. Roots reggae. Just saying. So after watching Family Man and Zeb from side stage, I decided to go out into the crowd, see some friends, and go home early.

Just when I thought it wasn’t gonna happen, it did. I found myself in the middle of the crowd, dancing hard, the same way I did when the reggae bug first bit me. I totally accept my role in this movement. The Jamaicans are rapidly ahead. So be it. I will be content trying to catch up. I have no problem enjoying the music of 1979 out of a 2013 sound system. As I looked next to me in the crowd, my buddy Pete Stergion turned to me and said “James! This is MY church.”

Preach on Family Man. Long live roots reggae.

-Sehmaj Surreal

7_31_reggae tuesday

Bass player and songwriter for Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, James feels, plays and lives the music. Lucky for us he also has the knack for remembering what happened and writing it down in his own voice.

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  • zed

    Interesting article, and numerous points of interest. Thank you.

    I found this page while trying to figure out what guitar and amplifier was used by Bingi Bunny of the Roots Radics. Not easy to find such info. But a Fender amp, of some kind, is likely.

    I appreciated the bass info you got from Aston Barrett.

  • FRP

    Greetings!

    Nice read. Many “I know him” moments; actually, just interviewed Tommy last Saturday and saw him perform on Sunday night with JBB.

    Give thanks to Rootfire for the link.

    I’ll share this with my reggae radio listeners.

    peace, love & Ras-pect,

    DJ FRP
    Tropical Riddims
    http://www.wortfm.org