Jamaica Gleaner

Live show breathes new life into Ja­maican mu­sic

We’re in a new era of reg­gae mu­sic, say over­seas per­form­ers

- Stephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer Entertainment · Music · South Africa · Africa · Las Vegas · Jamaica · Zimbabwe · Congress of the United States · United States of America · United States Congress · Vybz Kartel · Belgium · David Blaine · Dada · Bob Marley · Tuff Gong · Ken Boothe · Donovan · The Roots · BTS · Devin Tailes

JA­MAICA LIVE, David White’s lively pro­duc­tion, was il­lu­mi­nated by an as­ton­ish­ing dom­i­nant per­for­mance from internatio­nal guests Don Dada and Seed Un­der from South Africa and Bonafide, a Ja­maican reg­gae band based in Las Ve­gas. White also graced the stage as his al­ter ego, ‘Skill’, along with his brother Phillip, aka ‘Phillipi­don’, and to­gether, they show­cased the best of the ’80s and ’90’s.

The first of the Ja­maica Live con­cert se­ries hap­pened last Satur­day at The Serengeti, Hope Zoo, in an in­ti­mate set­ting. Up-and-com­ing reg­gae artiste, Bless-I, set the tone for the evening, which, de­spite get­ting off to a late start with a small turnout, was full of life. Se­cond on the run­ning or­der were Don Dada and Seed Un­der. The chem­istry was mys­te­ri­ous and their voices merged with­out fault. With the sup­port of the Reg­gae Pow­er­house Band, the South African per­form­ers shared five of their best col­lab­o­ra­tions and deep-cut­ting tracks and, of course, a lit­tle bit of opin­ion.

Wav­ing the flag of Zim­babwe and speak­ing of up­lift­ment of the peo­ple, na­tions com­ing to­gether, and ‘sumuza’, which means ‘to move for­ward or rise up’, Don Dada struck a fa­mil­iar nerve with the mes­sage then tem­pered the flame with his rhyth­mic flow.

“We are here tonight to rise up for reg­gae mu­sic,” said Don Dada. Com­bined with Seed Un­der’s tra­di­tional dance moves, their mu­sic cer­tainly mo­ti­vated the au­di­ence to move, even when they could not un­der­stand some of the lyrics sung in the artistes’ na­tive tongue.

END­LESS POS­I­TIV­ITY

The tracks that fol­lowed, in­clud­ing Mes­sage from Afrika, an­other tune of un­end­ing pos­i­tive en­ergy, and Jah Is Good, cur­rently dis­trib­uted by Tuff Gong Internatio­nal, got the au­di­ence’s ap­proval.

Vet­eran vo­cal­ist Ken Boothe came with the mel­low en­ergy that was ex­pected, while long­time en­ter­tainer Esco Da Shocker en­tered the stage voic­ing the 2005 dance­hall track that pro­voked the ‘tuck in yuh belly’ craze. He ex­pressed that Ja­maica Live was a plat­form on which he could show a dif­fer­ent side of him­self but said that it did not give him an ex­cuse to for­get where he was com­ing from. It tickled the in­ter­est of the crowd as he moved into a melodic mood for sin­gles Ul­ti­mate, Sail­ing and Pass the Kush.

By the time Bonafide, a group of five broth­ers, hit the stage, the au­di­ence was in tune with the di­rec­tion of Ja­maica Live, to vis­ually and au­rally cap­ture qual­ity live mu­sic and cre­ate a plat­form for tal­ents who not only come from the is­land but who share a sim­i­lar vi­sion. Recog­nised in 2018 by the United States Congress and pop­u­lar for the track Leav­ing Come The Morn­ing,a sweet-sound­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion with Vybz Kar­tel, the group was one of the an­tic­i­pated acts.

Fol­low­ing their per­for­mance, lead singer Dono­van ‘Junior Roots’ Stephens told The Gleaner, “Reg­gae is a big thing ev­ery­where that we per­form, but we’re in a new era of reg­gae where the root of the mu­sic is find­ing its way back into the spotlight. It was a great vibe, but the dif­fer­ence with Ja­maican au­di­ences is that they are tougher un­til they get to know you. But we are grate­ful to be part of a new ven­ture sup­port­ing live reg­gae mu­sic.”

Zareb, Con­rad Crys­tal, Suga Roy and the Fireball Crew ap­proached the stage with a dif­fer­ent at­ti­tude. As if to coun­ter­act the resid­ual anx­i­ety that comes with clos­ing a show, Suga Roy lit­er­ally jumped on stage and climbed the trusses, bring­ing a dif­fer­ent kind of vi­vac­ity to the fore that sur­prised even his own mu­si­cal com­padres watch­ing from stage level.

Af­ter the show, White said, “I have al­ways been taught it takes small steps to make big ones. This is marked in tonight’s turnout.” He is look­ing to recre­ate the in­ti­mate at­mos­phere for the 11 live shows that fol­low un­til they cul­mi­nate on a much larger scale with a two-day fes­ti­val near the end of 2020.

 ?? PHOTO BY STEPHANIE LYEW ?? South African artistes Don Dada (left) and Seed Un­der share the spotlight at Ja­maica Live, held at The Serengeti, Hope Zoo.
PHOTO BY STEPHANIE LYEW South African artistes Don Dada (left) and Seed Un­der share the spotlight at Ja­maica Live, held at The Serengeti, Hope Zoo.
 ??  ?? Vet­eran vo­cal­ist Ken Boothe holds a note dur­ing his per­for­mance at Ja­maica Live.
Vet­eran vo­cal­ist Ken Boothe holds a note dur­ing his per­for­mance at Ja­maica Live.

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