Thursday, March 09, 2006

ANTHONY B REVIEW - 3.05.06

JAHRICH.COM REVIEW
EVENT: Anthony B with Soul Majestic
VENUE: Carribean Cultural Center, 1000 Blue Hill Ave., Dorchester, MA
DATE: 3.05.06
ADMISSION: $ 30 at the door
SHOW RATING: $ $ $ $ (three out of four)



Anthony B delivered in fine style last night, revealing his talent, versatility, and experience as a dancehall icon in the business. I rolled in CCCs at 11:25 and Boston's infamous Caribbean dancehall was pretty empty, much like my pocket after paying thirty dollars for the show. To my surprise, Jah N Roots Band I was jamming their Rasta music on stage, and they delivered conscious, non slack roots tunes in their militant style. Led by the passionate Jahrif, Jah N I unleashed one heavyweight roots tune called "Soul of the Lion" which really moved the sparse CCC massive. Gwan Jah N I!

A brand new sound in the scene called Evalast Movements (sarcasm) then juggled some conscious tunes like Warrior King, "Can't Get Me Down" and Jr. Gong's razor sharp number, "Confrontation." The Seasons and Istanbul riddims were also played to the delight of the crowd. Earthforce then took the reigns played some nice oldies and several dubplates, including a wicked Luciano special. Sweets sounds from both sets!

Before long however, the main stage was again packed with musicians and chapter 2 of the show was unfolding. The tough music of the rootsy band Soul Majestic was a great start. Soul Majestic, a conscious group like Jah N I, was well armed with two female singers and an experienced riddim section. Their lead voice was a white dreadlocks who could hold a beat. "Arise" was their first heavy tune and that number set the tone as SM roughed it up with scorchers like "Musical Farmer" on the I Swear riddim. After playing a track on Gibbo's Hard Times riddim, Soul Majestic finished with a tune for all badminded heads of state called, "Better World."

I was hoping that Soul Majestic would simply stay on and then out of no where Anthony B would dart on stage but...the night was still young. Both Earthforce and Evalast set up their CD turntables next to the sound board in the very back of the club, facing the stage. Earthforce then juggled for only 4-5 minutes before the vacated main stage suddenly became alive once again. On stage was a new band called Untouchables, but they were not really too new. It was a revised version of Soul Majestic but minus the white people! The lead singer was expectedly gone as he is Soul Majestic. The other white guitar player had also vanished but soon reappeared at the merchandise stand by the entrance to the club. The Untouchables kicked it off at 1:05 am and they were tight! The talented bass player was also the lead vocal but he only performed one song before a hoarse DJ Quinton took the stage to announce the real headliner. It was now clear that Untouchables, not Soul Majestic, would back the 30 year old Clarks Town native Keith Blair, AKA Anthony B.

At 1:10 am, Anthony B took the stage and immediately raised the energy level 100% with his charisma and antics. He came running out from stage right and started belting out, "Hurt the heart, but you can't hurt the soul" and as a result, the CCC massive was in a frenzy! That energy never left and Anthony B, a veteran performer, turned what was a good dance into a wicked night! The club had filled up significantly since Jah N I and at this point most of the crowd had moved upfront right next to the stage. Five boom shots from the elder Bobo dread included, "Ring the Alarm," "Burn Down Rome," "Good Life," "God Above Everything," and of course "Raid the Barn," which was his final tune. Anthony B harmonized passionately for the ladies, belted out classics with his signature "yauckity yo," and spit sharp lyrics in a super fast DJ style all night. Anthony B is a well rounded artist and whose skills made his performance the obvious standout.

Anthony B also displayed by personality and charactah last night as well. He's a real showman who enjoys giving the crowd some entertainment. For example, when mentioning all the screwfaces in the dirty dancehall during "Waan Back," Anthony B cut out the music, walked over to the bassie, and gave the crowd his hardest "yeah,-I'm-a-hard-muthafucka" screwface and everyone loved it! He was funny too! He explained that he doesn’t fight with other artists in the reggae business because he's busy "clashing" with women. Anthony B then sang an outrageous tune calling out the names of all many female artists in the business like Cecil, Makka Diamond, Ms. Ting, and Tanya Stephens for example. Of course, the man had special lyrics for each of them and he dropped the bomb when he remarked, "Marcia Griffiths (pause), she a bit old, but [something like] she shines with gold, and also glittah (glitter), I'd like to put one in Rita!" Oh snap! The "Original Fire Man" also addressed many more serious issues such as gun violence, homosexuality, and police brutality, especially due to a spliff. In fact, Anthony B's notorious "Good Cop, Bad Cop" could have been the biggest tune of the night (not forgetting wicked tracks like, "Badman," "Lighter," and the popular "Warrior," on the cuss cuss riddim).

The lights came on just shy of 2 am and Anthony B left the stage, greeting several fans on his way to the upstairs, backstage area. CCC, a sizeable hall, was just shy of half full and that in itself isn't a bad turn out for a show held on a Sunday night and announced only a couple of week's ago. It's been a special week for live reggae in Boston considering last week's excellent Gregory Isaacs performance and the killer works of Anthony B last night.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

GREGORY ISAACS REVIEW - 3.01.06



JAHRICH.COM REVIEW
EVENT: Gregory Isaacs & Pressure Cooker
VENUE: The Paradise Rock Club, 969 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA
DATE: 3.01.06
ADMISSION: $20
SHOW RATING: $ $ $ $ (4 out of 4 - finally!)

My anticipation for this show was running high as I stepped through the Paradise doors at the early hour of 9:20 pm. I was anxious for the night to unfold as I've heard so many rumors about Mr. Isaac's performances, mostly negative, and I didn't go to his last Boston event at the Middle East four years ago. As soon as my ticket was electronically scanned, I walked into the club itself and all my worries were put to rest. The Dice' was packed (sold out) and one could feel the excitement in the air! I sensed that Gregory would come through, but there was no sign of him yet.

However, his backing band Live Wire was on stage warming up and selector JunyaKool and his omnipresent Evalast Movements were playing their last tune before show time. (I missed the opening act Pressure Cooker, a talented Ska and Studio One band that have three albums to the name.) Moments later the drummy hit the opening roll and the main event was on! Live Wire was tight and they were full of energy - bouncing and jumping together on stage - and this dynamic helped get the predominantly young, white crowd into a party mood!! Live Wire's lead singer then belted out one wicked cover tune after the next such as Bob's War, Tosh's "Legalize It," Third World's "Now That We Found Love," and a tough rendition of Jr. Gong's "Welcome to Jamrock." Live Wire succeeded in paving the way for the Cool Ruler, Mr. Gregory Isaacs, a living legend in the world of reggae music.

Just after 10 pm Live Wire wrapped it up and legendary Peter Tosh manager Copland Forbes took the stage to announce the main event in his classic smooth voice. The band played their intro and then to my great thrill, the Cool Ruler himself strutted out on stage, donning his famous white hat. Gregory was all smiles and he darted back and forth on stage before dropping into his first track, "Number One," to the delight of the crowd. Before long the band transitioned to a new riddim and Gregory announced in his unique, mellow, reedy, voice, "Meet me at the corner...." The hits fell like rain and Mr. Isaacs got a huge forward when he harmonized, "Love me in morning, love in the evening too..." Other anthems included "Private Beach Party," "Oh What a Feeling," and a wicked cover of "Tempted to Touch." The Paradise was going nuts and everyone was having a grand time taking in Gregory who sounded strong, not aged.

With so many hits in his deep catalog of tunes, Gregory Isaacs did sing a couple of melodies like Rumors into People Are You Ready into Mr. Brown and then into Hang on, which killed it. Just before 11 pm Gregory dropped his number one hit tune "Night Nurse" and then darted back stage. What was he up to back there? Who really knows but word on the street is that the infamous coke head is cleaner than ever before. At this point Copland Forbes and two WERS DJs gave away three CDs and passed the mic back over to Gregory.

Gregory kicked off the second round with his recent hit, "Hard Drugs." He then performed "Raggamuffin" with a guest deejay, Tosh1 of Boston. He performed his father's classic "Vampire" during his combination with GI. Tosh was okay only; he really just spit a few lyrics, hyped up Gregory and left the stage. To my surprise, Gregory performed only one more tune, "The Boarder," but trust me it was big and everyone from college kids, to Rastas, to old hippies, to gangstas belted out this number alongside the Cool Ruler. The show ended at 11:10 and Gregory performed for a solid hour. The after party in the Paradise Lounge with Most High Sound was fun, but too crowded and hectic. By midnight I was bracing the cold and heading back to my car with a feeling exhaustion mixed with euphoria from the show. Gregory Isaacs is a seminal figure in the business and it was a blessing to take in his performance last night.

Monday, January 16, 2006

ABIJAH REVIEW - 1.15.06




EVENT: Abijah & Dub Station
VENUE: Bill's Bar, 14 Lansdowne Street, Boston, MA
DATE: 1.15.06
ADMISSION: $15
SHOW RATING: $ $ $ $(3 out of 4, barely!)

Despite the bitter cold (11 F), the crazy winds (bursts over 25 knots), and my nagging hangover from the recent Patriots loss (bumboclat!), I had a good time at Bill's Bar taking in the sweet sounds of Abijah. Bill's Bar hosts a notorious reggae Sunday that has been in effect for years. Reggae band Dub Station, led by bassist Kyle Russell, has consistently held it down at Bill's in style and last night was a fine example of their seasoned flavor.

I arrived just after 11 pm and Bill's was pretty empty. This venue has a reputation of not filling up until at least after midnight. Resident selector K Don was largely spinning the same ol' selections (riddims like drop leaf, truth and rights, and hard times), but lit up the place with big tunes like Anthony B, "So Many Things To Say" and Trinidadian Marlon Asher's "Ganja Planter," a national hit in America. K Don is a veteran selector who knows the business well but his spinning last night seemed tired.

Dub Station, armed with a new keyboardist and talented sax player, began around 11:20 and their first set of the night featured local reggae singer / songwriter Tom O'Brien. Fresh off of their West Coast tour, Dub Station and O'Brien performed with confidence and skill. O'Brien, an adept musician, was the lead voice of the roots outfit Cornerstone before aligning himself with Dub Station. He delivered last night, belting out hits like "Open Up Your Eyes" and Bob's "Trouble On the Road Again," to the delight of the enthusiastic Bill's Bar massive. O'Brien has a folksy flavor and that quality is certainly evident on his 12 track sampler CD, "Then and Now."

The energetic first set suddenly came to a close and K Don was back on the 1s and 2s. The place was filling up and at the night’s peak, Bill's Bar was 2/3 full. To my dismay, the lovely bartender quickly poured my Guinness into a plastic cup! Overall, the drinks are a bit expensive (Guinness on draft is $5, not $4) but considering the location, it's probably cheap. Bobbyshakes.com was shooting video all night and between the first-rate musicianship of Dub Station and the melodic skills of O'Brien and Abijah, this will be a must have DVD. Before long Dub Station was back on stage and Abijah emerged from the side room with Bobbyshakes and a manager cutting him a path through the crowd towards the stage.

Abijah is a cultural, no slackness singer from Kingston, JA who has one album under his belt, "Abijah (VP)," and a slew of popular singles. His breakthrough tune "Revelation" stayed on the top JA charts for 30-plus weeks. Known as the "Ambassador of Peace" in Jamaica, Abijah has performed at schools across the island. Abijah's background is impressively musical as his father drummed with the famous Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, and he also claims ancestry to Bob Marley. His musical genes shined through, but Abijah is not a wicked, wicked artist yet.

Abijah, which means "Of the Creator," kicked off the night with Bob's "Rastaman Chant," and then moved into his own hits like "Head Above the Water" and his standout cover, "Sun is Shining." Dub Station was particularly heavy playing this tune. In and amongst some covers and decent originals, Abijah moved the crowd with scorchers such as "Press On" and his boom shot, "Revelation." The night was fun and Abijah invited some talented dancers on stage to show off their routines. He also honored his girlfriend with a tune as well as a female patron who was celebrating her birthday. But Abijah's voice was a bit hoarse and although both he and the band were energetic, the show felt slow at times and a pulsating dynamic seemed absent. Yet just before I left at 1:30 am, Abijah scored with a tune called "Rastafari Love." The man was performing with passion and the message was one of hope—classic Abijah.

http://www.reggae4i.com/Abijah.html

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

BUJU BANTON REVIEW - 11.21.05

EVENT: Buju Banton with Shilo Band
VENUE: Lupo's, 79 Washington Street, Providence, RI
DATE: 11.21.05
ADMISSION: $25
SHOW RATING: $ $ $ $ (3 out of 4) Again!!

I had never seen Buju live before, so Monday night's show was special. Despite the fact that I own several of his LPs and a bunch of 7 inches, I don't know Buju's music that well, comparatively speaking. But the show was well worth the work-night jaunt down to Providence.

I heard that Lupo's moved locations, but I never would have guessed that The Heartbreak Hotel would move into the Strand Theater! I was awestruck when I first darted inside, escaping the rain, because the ceilings were 130-ft. high. Two margaritas quickly melted away that cold, damp feeling (small plastic cups to my chagrin!).

The opening acts were better than only OK. Backed by the experienced Shilo Band, three artists passed through and all recieved forwards from the packed house. I believe that the legendary Mickey Chung played riddim guitar, and I can't forget about the lovely backup singers as well. Then, to my surprise, Assassin charged the stage, busting out with his breakthrough hit, "Roughest and Toughest." His voice was hoarse and that factor limited his set to maybe six tunes. Still, his energetic performance picked up the vibes and he sucessfully paved the way for Gargamel AKA Mr. Buju Banton, a living dancehall legend.

Buju was on point all night! Whether it was a slow tune, or a rootsy sounding number, or one of his many dancehall classics, Gargamel killed it! He sang in many different styles, revealing his versatility as an artist. Buju belted out his signature hits like "Til Shilo," "Hills and Valley," and "Murder," as expected. He also performed new tunes from his upcoming abum, Rasta Got Soul. Of course, Buju dropped a his recent single "Magic City," which recieved a ton of airplay on Rockers (WERS 88.9 FM). Buju's rendition of Peter Tosh's classic "Mama Africa" was another highlight of the show. Lupo's was feeling that chune! And I was feeling all the high grade ses in the air!

The climate at Lupo's was relaxed and it didn't have that edge you can feel in some Boston clubs. The mood was jovial and the massive just wanted to take in Buju and enjoy themselves. The venue itself really enhanced the experience and Lupo's is better than The Roxy (Boston) for a large stage show. But before long, Buju exited the stage and to my shock, the lights qucikly came on! It was only 12:10 am! Presumably, Lupo's weekday curfew is midnight. Other patrons were dismayed when the lights burst on and I can recall this one big dude wildly slapping his hands on the back of the stage speakers in protest! An ancore would have dun the place straight! Perhaps tonight in Boston at Club Lido's...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

JUNEYA KOOL B-DAY REVIEW - 11.06.05

EVENT: Juneya Kool B-Day Bash with Everlast & Nori from Afrique (NYC)
VENUE: Embassy, 30 Lansdowne Street, Boston
DATE: 11.06.05
PRICE: $20
SHOW RATING: $ $ $ $ (3 out of 4)


I had a wicked good time at Juneya Kool's Birthday Bash last night. Juneya is a revered soundman, studio owner, and local celebrity. There was certainly energy in the air as lightning, thunder, and rain showers blessed Boston just before the show kicked off. That vibe definitely carried over into the dance and Embassy was bouncing all the way until 2am. I left my political baggage and dissecting tendencies at the door and had a great time at the bashment.

Donning my classiest attire, I rolled into Embassy at approx. 11 and the place was slowly filling up. Everlast was running tunes and they kept the mood swinging with classic dancehall/ bashment cuts. Junior was cruising around the spot, saying wad up to the fans, having a good time. By midnight, Nori and his selector from Afrique (NYC) stepped up to the control tower and served up niceness all night. Afrique started it off easy with some specials and slower tunes. But soon they were dropping somewhat hype tunes and the dance floor was swelling with dancers busting out their latest moves. I too was feeling hype and damn I must have bought 14 beers at the bar!

Nori then switched the vibes and played an R&B/Hip-Hop set which had the massive in a frenzy. Around this time I saw Junior getting champagne poured on him and everyone was in a partying mood, enjoying themselves to the max. Yo Nori was now hype and this man can chat pon the mic! After the hip hop set Nori unleashed some classic, vintage reggae anthems and the crowd was loving it. He made sure to big up one of NYC's recent favorite artists Khari Kill, who has a boom tune on the truth and rights riddim called "Picture of Selassie." Three other killers that I can recall include Ele "Jamaica," Bascom X "Waiting," (still!), and Marlon Asher, "Ganja Planter," which had people screaming and going wild!

At around 1:45 NYC's legendary sound Afrique seemed to be finishing up. Then two artists came up on stage and toasted over a few riddims. They were pretty good but the mics were cutting in and out and things didn't seem organized. In fact, I split after their third song.

One more note, Embassy is blazin! This venue has a banging soundsystem, a classy atmosphere, and slutty bartenders waiting to serve up your needs! Plus, they have a well placed video screen, high above the short center stage. Rockers and a BS.com video played all night! I'll seek sanctuary at the Embassy anytime!

Monday, October 31, 2005

JAH N' I REVIEW - 10.30.05

EVENT: Jah N' I CD Release Show
VENUE: Bill's Bar, 5.5 Lansdowne Street, Boston
DATE: 10.30.05
PRICE: $10
SHOW RATING: $ $ $ $ (3 out of 4)

After navigating through cross dressing Halloween revelers, I finally stepped into Bill's Bar at around 11:00, ready to take in Jah N' I's CD release show. For ten years straight, Bill's has hosted a Sunday reggae night and on most occasions the place is rammed soon after midnight. Jah N I, locally based roots band, had their work cut out for them at that time as I was one of only 15 people in the place. The opening act, LE Men, was finishing their last few tunes as I saddled up to my first margarita on the rocks. They're a tough group, and LE Men's passionate lead vocal Chris is a veteran artist who can both sing and spit lyrics in a DJ style. Bosotn, look out for LE Men.

Tadiyaas Sound and DJ Kbruff provided the selections for the night and his first set was a little rocky. Nothing serious, but too many CD wheel ups and constant skips, which was an issue all night. One interesting incident that I did notice was that Kbruff, an intelligent selector, played three straight Jah N I tunes in a row before the (Jah N' I) show. This is a fauxpas among DJs and selectors.

Just shy of midnight, Jah N I, an 8 pice band, took the stage to perform. Bassist Horace sang the first few tunes and from the get-go it was clear that Jah N' I is a skilled, hard hitting roots and culture band. Their riddims are heavy and the band boils like pot pon fire when Jahriffe, Jah N I's talented lead, starts belting out conscious lyrics in his distinctive voice! Band leader Jahriffe sang a slew of conscious, Rastafari inspired tunes before Dinquinesh blessed the mic for a number of wicked tracks. Empress Dinquinesh is Jah N I's secret weapon. Her beautiful voice touches a range of sounds, touching on roots reggae, R&B, and Soul. Watching Jahriffe and Empress Dinquinesh sing and groove together on stage was a true highlight last night.

Soon enough Jah N I busted out their anthems such as "Time or the Hour," "One Way," and "Rastafari Love," which has recieved steady airplay on 88.9 WERS. In fact, they played most of the new 10 track CD, Rastafari Love. I highly recommend this rootical album. These Rastas played other fresh, top notch tunes, but I knew little about them. Still, I joyfully absorbed their conscious music all night! Although this vibe was comically interrupted when more dressed up trick or treaters (two cows and a flashing/glowing farm) danced around the floor. Actually, Jah N I bun out Halloween in their last song of the night, "JAH-N-I," which was a conscious boomshot!

Although there was no set break, the second half of the show was mellower. However, Jahriffe continually carried positive vibes, dancing on stage and smiling a bunch of the time! I hadn't seen this before. The Sunday massive did respond and although Bill's was half full, the feeling was positive, but heavy. And's that Jah N I massive. They are Rastas who truly stand firm in their belief of Selassie and the downfall of babylon. This seriousness showed itself when my friend Taz attempted to take their picture while performing, and both Jahriffe and Dinquinesh turned away from the camera.

Jah N I finished at 1:15am but the musical vibes remained strong as Tadiyaas Sound and DJ Kbruff unleashed an awesome post show set! He kicked it off with a set of exclusive hits from Beres Hammond and then showcased the sweet, passionate voice of Jah Cure. The ladies loved it! Staying up to the time, Kbruff next dropped a handful of popular current riddims like Drop Leaf, Seasons, and that slower riddim where Ele sings, "as far as my eyes can see..." Kbruff was killing it and that 25 minutes or so was another real highlight of the night!

Boy, Boston reggae bands are tough right now! This is the second great show I've recently seen from a locally based band. I give thanks...

www.jahiroots.com

BUY RASTAFARI LOVE at www.highhopesstudio.com

Sunday, October 23, 2005

NODDACLU REVIEW - 10.22.05

EVENT: Noddaclu
VENUE: The Western Front, Cambridge, MA
DATE: 10.22.05
PRICE: $10
SHOW RATING: $ $ $ $

Despite the cold rain, I reached the infamous Western Front at 11:00 to check Noddaclu, a reggae band based out of the South Shore. Noddaclu, "The Island Reggae Party," is a band on the rise, so I was excited to check their tight mix of roots, soca, and calypso. Noddaclu delivered, mashing up the Front all night!

As I walked in, lead singer/DJ Tony was belting out Mystic Man, a classic Peter Tosh number and to my delight, a Tosh tribute ensued, touching on a number of my favorites. This six member band is superb and the addition of a sax player enhances their live show trust me. Noddaclu is a professional unit who has been in the business since 1992. They bring their own stage lighting, island style Noddaclu banner, and doormen donning cheesy T-shirts saying, "Noddaclu: Let me hear yah say YAH MON." :lol:

The rest of the first set was mainly well played classic covers. In fact, Noddaclu primarily plays both vintage and contemporary covers. I think it's hard to 100% rate a band that plays more than a handful of covers. In their defense, I want to note Noddaclu's boomshot roots original, "Rastaman" which opened the energetic 2nd set. The packed crowd loved each tune and the place exploded when Noddaclu dropped their heavyweight "world of reggae music" riddim melody featuring tunes by Ini Kamoze, Jr. Gong, and Jr. Reid. Listening to these tunes helped me understand the strengths of lead singer DJ Tony. He's a pretty good singer but a great DJ whose rough toasting style reminds me of a growl - somewhat like a raspy Chaka Demus. So, he was okay singing Ini K. but sounded totally balzin' when he transitioned into Jr. Gong's anthem, "Welcome to Jamrock," where he spit the lyrics in a fast and rough DJ style.

By 12:30 am the vibes were really picking up and Front owner Marvin was even shaking a tambourine behind the bar! Noddaclu has depth and if DJ Tony isn't entertaining the crowd then "The Crazy Calyposonian"(lead guitar) is captivating the massive with his playing and antics. This man often gets ladies from the crowd to stuff dollar bills down his pants! I taught him everything he knows. Before long it was 1:30 am (yes Boston ends early) and Noddaclu was finishing off their Bob Marley encore. The crowd begged for more but time was short and I was off...

www.noddaclu.com

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Cool Runnings

Massive, get ready for the rants and reviews of selector Jah Rich. Big up Empress Becca, Father Wayne, and Brother Andrew.

www.jahrich.com