GIVING THANKS STILL
by Matthew G. Wallace
Pato Banton and I are sitting atop the roof of the club where he is scheduled to perform in a few hours. Rather than conduct our interview in a stuffy tour bus or shout over the sound check taking place below, he obliges as I lead him through a cluttered storage room and up a make-shift ladder better suited for an acrobat than one of the most recognized names in Reggae. Below us, the seven members of his band, The Reggae Revolution, are tuning up and, one by one, joining in on a smoldering Dub of “Satta Amassagana.” We are watching a beautiful, and especially long, Santa Barbara sunset as the moon climbs high over the Pacific Ocean a few blocks away. He is nearing the end of an extensive three-month tour and looks forward to spending some time at home with his wife and two children, who are back in England. A few weeks away from his 33rd birthday, he seems as energetic and upful as ever.
Energetic and upful seem to define Pato Banton. He is like a constant whirlwind of touring and recording. As we sat down to talk, he is finishing up yet another North America tour, promoting a greatest hits package called Collections for long-time label, I.R.S. Records, and anticipating the worldwide release of the video for the album’s first song, “Baby Come Back” (a duet with bredren Robin and Ali Campbell of UB40).
LOUIE CULTURE – MEET MR. GANGALEE
by Karie Russell
Dancehall fans, here he is, the original Mr. “Gangalee” himself– Mr. “I wanna be free from all chains and all bangles and rope/Free from all bars and all borders and dope/Free to praise the Lord because mi naw praise the Pope/So mind how yuh a wash yuh face wid Babylon soap/I was born to be free ’cause mi a ole gangalee/Gangalee and who have eyes they will see” (taken from the hit song “Gangalee.”)
He’s also known as DJ Louie Culture, as that is the name he entered the music business with, but ever since he scored with his big hit, Dancehall fans, home and abroad, have branded him “Mr. Gangalee.” He’s very proud to wear this title, not only because he made it popular, but more so, because his belief in the concept of the word “gangalee” has been his main driving force to success.
Now, before driving you all nuts, here’s the history of the word and the man called Gangalee. Follow mi! “Gangalee” is an old Jamaican rural term for an unruly, uncontrollable, bad person. As old people would say, “A soon cool yuh ’cause yuh a gwan like yuh a gangalee.” Continue reading
LADY G – DON’T CALL HER GAL
Interviewed by M. Peggy Quattro
Written by Sara Gurgen
The talented ladies in Reggae have historically taken a back seat to the popularity of their numerous male counterparts. A handful of singers, and even fewer DJs, have held their ground and withstood the test of time.
Not to be outdone by the current crop of new lady DJs, the lovely and talented Lady G has consistently proved that she is not yet ready to be considered among the “dead and gone.” The sweet appearance of Lady G does not belie her steely interior, and the Spanish Town-born DJ has taken her shot at macho males with her latest sizzling releases. Lady G, who has seen a great response to her hit song “Me or the Gun,” a demand that her man choose between which one “gives more fun,” is now coming in strong with her latest song “If I was a Gal.” “You’ve got guys who call women gals; that’s not the right way for a man to style [call] a woman,” said Lady G following her terrific performance inside Ft. Lauderdale’s Reggae Cafe. Referring to her new song, she goes on to explain: “It’s not the name they should call the women. In some countries–like Trinidad–they call their women gal. It’s not the name that they call the women, it’s the way they express it.” Lady G is telling the men that if they want to get a woman’s attention, these days, that’s not the way to do it. Continue reading
A Conversation with Original Skatalites’s Tommy McCook
by Lee O’Neill
It would not be an exaggeration to call the Skatalites the first superstars of Jamaican music. Not only the house band for Clement “Sir Coxsone” Dodd’s Studio One label and Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle label (along with dozens of others), they were also Jamaica’s hottest live act at the peak of the Ska era. As individuals, they played on nearly every song of significance in the early ’60s, defined the Ska style, and became the core of the bands that would create Rock Steady. It would be no exaggeration to say that the roots of Reggae begin with the Skatalites.
I was fortunate enough to speak with Tommy McCook, leader and tenor sax player for the Skatalites and founder of Rock Steady’s Supersonics, shortly before the release of the Skatalites newest album, Hi-Bop Ska. The album features Prince Buster and Toots Hibbert on vocals, along with guest artists from the contemporary Jazz world–well-known names like Monty Alexander, Lester Bowie, David Murray and Steve Turre. It brings the music full circle to reconnect the sound of Jazz with the original Ska sound. That should come as no surprise to those familiar with McCook, because, as he told me, “Jazz is my first love.” Continue reading
SISTER CAROL – CALL MI SISTER CAROL
by Empress Modupe Olufunmi
Recently, I was honored to have a bonafide Sister come through our gates in Brooklyn to share some positive reasoning and good vibrations with the Flatbush massive. I speak of one of the hardest working women in the music industry, Sister Carol, otherwise known as the Black Cinderella or Mother Culture. Sister Carol took time away from her busy schedule as an activist, artist, educator, mother and wife to engage me in a crucial discussion about music and her contributions to Reggae.
Sister Carol’s presence in the house was a special treat for my eight youths. They came strolling in from outside, one after another, to greet her. With her usual natural composure, Mother Culture spent a little time getting acquainted with them. The older youths tried their best to contain their delight at having “Sister Carol in da house, word!” However, my two youngest daughters, Yeshimabet and Tanagna Worq, would not ease up on Sister Carol. Needless to say, it was difficult to begin the interview. Amidst all the traffic and noise of young people going in and out the gates, Sister Carol and I embarked on an uplifting journey. Continue reading