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Last Night: Second Annual Jamaican Vintage Music Festival


The Skatalites: Many Rivers to Cross.

More Jamaican Artists that you can shake a stick at.

Bergeron Rodeo Grounds

October 20, 2007

Better Than: Watching the Miami Dolphins lose to the New England Patriots in the 'Manhandle South of the Panhandle.'

Jamaica as a nation has an incredibly rich musical history for such a small country. Most of it has been amassed in the past 50 years, and regardless of your musical tastes, there's no denying that the innovative sounds emerging from Jamaica since the early 60s are on par with the United States as far as influencing global culture. The Clash took their cues from Jamaica more than England in the late 70s and countless other groups from No Doubt to Sublime looked straight to Yard for their musical supper at a time when US music culture was devoid of nourishment.

That's all thanks in part to the contributions of a good amount of artists who performed over the weekend at the Second Annual Jamaican Vintage Music Festival. The celebration of Jamaica's vintage sounds got off to a soggy start with near Biblical rain falling from the heavens on Saturday afternoon. It almost looked like the festival would be rained out...but thankfully, Hurricane Chris (Ay Bay Bay) finally let up and the concert took off. While having one too many drinks at a local bar as I waited out the storm kept me from catching all of the festival, what I did witness was a treat.

Old school DJ's Charlie Chaplin, Brigadier Jerry and others played a litany of throwback classics from King Jammy and Dennis Brown to Buju Banton material circa Til Shiloh. It was a great idea to throw these DJ's in the mix during set changes and kept the energy moving forward. The New Stylistics put on a stellar hour-long set playing their gargantuan list of hits from "Betcha By Golly Wow" to "Break Up to Make Up" and had the several thousand onlookers caught up in a moment. The Stylistics have gone through some line-up changes over the years but this quartet was rather solid and definitely the best dressed performers of the night. They looked dapper and stylish wearing bright red suits and red alligator shoes as they danced in harmony (rare now a days) and delighted the crowd.

The Skatalites were fan favorite for obvious reasons. As they ran through a short but sweet list of hits from the old Studio One days, folks couldn't help but move and groove to songs like, "Guns of Navarone" and "Simmer Down" by Bob Marley and the Wailers which they played back up on in the early 60s. It was obvious all the guys in the band were having a blast on stage and as they smiled at the audience and encouraged everyone to dance, you almost felt obliged to dance back and give the band what they wanted.

The best surprise of the night was when Tarrus Riley walked on stage during the Future Vintage portion of the show and electrified the crowd with some well-needed contemporary flavor just to keep everyone on their toes. His hit song, "She's Royal" was the highlight of the night for many as he had all the guys and gals in the audience singing along word for word.

Critics Notebook:

Personal Bias: Reggae always sounds better after a few beers of the alcoholic and ginger variety.

Random Detail:The only reason Tarrus Riley was on the show is because Cocoa Tea's visa expired and he got the Bin Laden treatment trying to fly into Fort Lauderdale to perform.

By The Way: To catch more of Tarrus Riley's grooves, check out his MySpace page and listen to one of Reggae's biggest stars as he rises toward international fame.

--Jonathan Cunningham

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Jonathan Cunningham

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