Reggae on the River 2009 – Reggae on the River in Humboldt County

I got to attend this year’s Reggae on the River Festival in Southern Humboldt County, California. The festival had a great local community feel and funds raised went to support the Mateel Community Center in Redway, California. The Eel River flowed through the picturesque venue located at Benbow State Recreational Area. Reggae on the River celebrated its 25th Anniversary in fine style. Positive vibrations flowed all day long. Soul Majestic played early in the day bringing their brand of soul-drenched reggae to the stage. The track “First Light” set the vibe and songs like “Rough N’ Tuff ” displayed the musical prowess of this young group. Soul Majestic also played the single “Better World,” which dovetails nicely with their positive vibe and eco-friendly message.

Queen Omega ignited the stage with soul, dancehall, and roots reggae. A native of Trinidad and Tobago Queen Omega sang “Love Ya Color,” “Judgement,” “Warning,” and “Ganja Baby” to an appreciative crowd.  The Roots Revealers bought Jamaican dancehall to northern California playing the songs “Long Road” and “No More Killing.”

The crowd-pleasing crown princess of roots reggae Etana turned it up a notch dropping the killer hits “Roots” and “Blessing.” The lovely songstress covered some Bob Marley and the Wailers tunes creating a wonderful vibe with the classic “One Drop.” Etana played some tracks from her newest hit album The Strong One performing “Jah Chariot” and “Don’t Forget,” and “Caltariba System.” And I was pleasantly surprised by Etana‘s cover of the Beatles “Don’t Let Me Down.” Etana finished her set singing “I Am Not Afraid,” which is from one of my favorite riddims: the “Rub-A-Dub” riddim.

The legendary vocal group from Jamaica The Abyssinians took the stage under the afternoon sun. Roots reggae filled the air with classic tunes like “Y Mas Gan,” “African Race,” “Let My Days Be Long,”  “Meditation,” and “Know Jah Today.” The Abyssinians took us to the Bible and the book of Daniel with “Abendigo,” turning the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendigo into a wonderful reggae and dub experience. And of course the reggae legends performed their megahits from the Satta Massagana album, including “Peculiar Number,” “Black Man’s Strain,” “Declaration Of Rights,” “Forward Unto Zion,” and “Satta Massagana.”

The Abyssinians at Reggae on the River 2009
The Abyssinians at Reggae on the River 2009
The Abyssinians Dancing at Reggae on the River 2009
The Abyssinians Dancing at Reggae on the River 2009

Tanya Stephens livened things up with a raunchy-rough riding performance that included plenty of references to “long ding dongs” with high-energy versions of “Boom Wuk” and “Good Ride.” The dancehall favorite “Yuh Nuh Ready Fi Dis Yet” set a playful vibe and then she played the killer singles “Can’t Breathe,” “It’s A Pity,” and “These Streets.” Stephens showed her soulful side too with songs like “What Ah Day” and “Little White Lie.” But it seemed Stephens dominated with the playful tunes like “Tek Him Back” and “To The Rescue.”

Tanya Stephens at Reggae on the River 2009
Tanya Stephens at Reggae on the River 2009
Tanya Stephens at Reggae on the River 2009, California
Tanya Stephens at Reggae on the River 2009, California

Then the Yellow Wall Dub Squad took the stage to warm it up for The Mighty Diamonds. The bassist sang the song “Overlaod” and then King David sang a reggae version of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature.” The Mighty Diamonds entered the stage and played “Poor Marcus Garvey” and “Rise Up” from the album titled Rise Up. The roots reggae gems “Have Mercy,” “Right Time,” “Africa,” and “I Need A Roof” all made the set list. The “I Need A Roof” jam extended and transitioned into a cover of the Bob Marley‘s anthem “Get Up, Stand Up.” An extended version of “Pass The Kutchie” and a sweet version of the Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions tune “It’s All Rightt” capped off the set. Etana, The Abyssinians, Soul Majestic, Queen Omega, and The Mighty Diamonds then returned to the stage and all performed together for a finale. The all-star group of reggae performers sang the Bob Marley and the Wailers classic hit “One Love / People Get Ready.”

The Eel River at Reggae on the River 2009
The Eel River at Reggae on the River 2009
Dancin' Crowd at Reggae on the River 2009
Dancin' Crowd at Reggae on the River 2009

Advertisements
Reggae on the River 2009 – Reggae on the River in Humboldt County

Top 30 Albums of July 2009! – HOT SUMMER MUSIC for JULY 2009

July 2009

  1. Major Lazer Guns Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do [Explicit] [Downtown 2009]
  2. Chali 2na Fish Outta Water [Decon 2009]
  3. Slaid CleavesEverything You Love Will Be Taken Away [Music Road 2009]
  4. Zee AviZee Avi[Brushfire Records 2009]
  5. Lady Saw Extra Raw: The First Lady of Dancehall [VP Records 2009]
  6. AswadCity Lock [Rhythm Riders 2009]
  7. Rhett MillerRhett Miller [Shout! Factory 2009]
  8. Mishka Above The Bones [J.K. Livin Records 2009]
  9. Bob DylanTogether Through Life [Columbia 2009]
  10. MicachuJewellery [Rough Trade 2009]
  11. ScientistInternational Heroes Dub [Tameki Wambesi Dove 2009]
  12. Mojo Morgangot Mojo? [Gedion Soldiers 2009]
  13. The LemonheadsVarshons [The End Records 2009]
  14. The AggrolitesIV [Hellcat 2009]
  15. The Low Anthem Oh My God Charlie Darwin [Nonesuch 2009]
  16. Various Artists Riddim Driven: Sweet [VP Records 2009]
  17. Dinosaur Jr.Farm [Jagjaguwar 2009]
  18. Ryan Bingham & the Dead HorsesRoadhouse Sun (Amazon MP3 Exclusive Version) [Lost Highway Records 2009]
  19. EminemRelapse [Explicit] [Aftermath Records 2009]
  20. Jason LytleYours Truly, The Commuter [Anti/Epitaph 2009]
  21. Todd SniderThe Excitement Plan [Yep Roc Records 2009]
  22. Son VoltAmerican Central Dust [Rounder Records 2009]
  23. Mos DefThe Ecstatic [Downtown 2009]
  24. Levon HelmElectric Dirt [Amazon Exclusive] [Vanguard 2009]
  25. Tanya MorganBrooklynati [Explicit] [Independent Media/iM Culture 2009]
  26. DoomBorn Like This. [Explicit] [Lex Records 2009]
  27. Laura IzibiLet The Truth Be Told [Deluxe] [Atlantic 2009]
  28. J Dilla Jay Stay Paid [Explicit] [Nature Sounds 2009]
  29. St. Vincent Actor (Amazon Exclusive) [4AD 2009]
  30. Matthew Sweet & Susanna HoffsUnder The Covers: Vol. 2 [Shout! Factory 2009]
  31. WilcoWilco [The Album] [Nonesuch 2009]

Diplo and Switch present Major Lazer‘s Guns Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do with special guests Santogold, Mr. Lex, Vybz Kartel, T.O.K., Mr Vegas, and many more. The creative DJ/producer duo amalgamates and mashes up tunes sampling from soca, calypso, merengue, and reggae, dropping fat beats, gun blasts, reggae air horns, and choice samples. An example of one of the more interesting and creative cuts is “Baby,” which adds an auto-tune to a crying baby. The killer reggae track on this work is “Can’t Stop Now,” which features Mr. Vegas and Jovi Rockwell. The harmonic Rockwell and Mr. Vegas create an easy-sounding classic reggae track among the hard-pounding dance jams. The track “Hold The Line” samples surf guitars from Dick Dale And His Del-Tones classic “Misirlou,” adding heavy beats and the vocal duo of Mr. Lex and Santogold. Some of my personal favorites on this album include the rough shod “Bruk Out” featuring T.O.K and Ms. Thing; “Cash Flow” featuring the roots reggae flavor of Jah Dan; “Anything Goes” with chaotic verses from Turbulance; and the dancehall sensation Vybz Kartel working “Pon De Floor.”

Chali 2Na‘s Fish Outta Water snap, crackles, and pops. A guest appearances by the Marley Brothers, Damian Marley and Stephen Marley, on the cut “Guns Up” piles deep booming funky fresh rhymes over a sweet melodic reggae chorus peppered by a Jr. Gong flow. The King of the Dancehall Beenie Man joins Chali 2Na on the tune “International” for searing dancehall reggae/hip-hop fusion. I found the single “Lock Shit Down” with Talib Kweli appealing and the track “Comin’ Thru” to be a hip-hop jam.

Texas songwriters Slaid Cleaves, Rhett Miller, and Ryan Bingham made the list this month. The Austin-based musician Slaid Cleaves sings heart-wrenching ballads playing Texas country music like it should be played. The song “Cry” on the album Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away will rip out your heart and have you reaching for the bottle of whiskey. American folk legend Bob Dylan dropped the new album Together Through Life featuring the ominous dark-sounding hit single “Beyond Here Lies Nothin’.

Zee Avi and Mishka add international flavors to the best albums of July, providing fun flip-flop rock and reggae sounds for the summertime. Jack Johnson‘s Brushfire Records handpicked Zee Avi for the label where she fits well with the laid back surfer motive. The Malaysian-born ukulele player’s new album is self titled Zee Avi. Reggae-drenched Canadian/Bermudian seafarer Mishka is the new artist appearing on Matthew McConaughey’s record label JK Livin Records. Mishka’s new album Above The Bones provides good summer tunes and positive vibes.

Top 30 Albums of July 2009! – HOT SUMMER MUSIC for JULY 2009

TOP 20 ALBUMS OF JUNE 2009 – BEST OF 2009 SUMMER MUSIC

Top 20 Albums of June 2009

  1. Bob Marley and the Wailers B Is For Bob [Tuff Gong/Def Jam/Island Records 2009]
  2. Various Artists Dark Was The Night (Red Hot Compilation) [The Red Hot Organization/4AD 2009]
  3. N.A.S.A. – The Spirit Of Apollo [Anti/Epitaph 2009]
  4. AlborosieEscape From Babylon [Greensleeves 2009]
  5. Dave Matthews BandBig Whiskey And The GrooGrux King [Bama Rags 2009]
  6. The ItalsLet Dem Talk [Ital Records 2009]
  7. Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley BandOuter South [Merge 2009]
  8. DJ JS-1 No Sellout [Ground Original 2009]
  9. The Dub MachinistWorldwide Dub [Control Tower France 2009]
  10. Various Artists Reggae Gold 2009 [VP Records 2009]
  11. Ini Kamoze 5150 Rule [Hottis 2009]
  12. Amadou & MariamWelcome to Mali [Nonesuch 2009]
  13. Los Granadian del Espacio Exterior Donde Ningun Hombre Ha Llegado Jamas [Liquidator Spain 2009]
  14. Method Man & RedmanBlackout! 2 [Explicit] [Island/Def Jam 2009]
  15. Regina SpektorFar [Sire 2009]
  16. Black Eyed PeasThe E.N.D. (The Energy Never Dies) [Interscope 2009]
  17. 311Uplifter [RCA/Jive 2009]
  18. The Dirty ProjectorsBitte Orca[Domino Recording 2009]
  19. Natural BlackGuardian Angel [Zion Roots Music 2009]
  20. Sonic Youth The Eternal [Matador 2009]
  21. Paul WallFast Life [Explicit] [Asylum/WB 2009]

“Life is one big road with lots of signs,” Bob sings “So when your riding through the ruts don’t you complicate your mind.” On this album we see why Bob Marley and the Wailers ruled the world of reggae music, especially with roots reggae tracks like “Wake Up And Live – Pt. 1.”  On the new album B Is For Bob executive producer Ziggy Marley reworked some of the Bob Marley classics giving them a kid friendly edge. The album pulsates with positive vibrations. A stripped down acoustic version of “Three Little Birds” leads off the album followed by a classic acoustic version of “Redemption Song.” These two songs make for fun summer road trip  sing-a-longs. I found the version of “Satisfy My Soul” to be very sensual and in my opinion this song could be one of the best lovers’ rock tracks ever cut. A bongo almost-dancehall infused “Jamming” and new takes on “Small Axe,” “Bend Down Low” and “Stir It Up” fill out this nice addition to the Bob Marley discography. “Could You Be Loved” and “One Love / People Get Ready” also fit perfect with the kid album theme. “High Tide Or Low Tide” excellently caps off the work.

Finding their way to the top of the Jam-Tex music charts this June are a cadre of Indie-rockers and rappers. The benefit album and compilation Dark Was The Night (Red Hot Compilation) and the N.A.S.A. hip-hop project The Spirit Of Apollo. Dark Was The Night (Red Hot Compilation) includes indie rockers collaborating to make wonderful music and really this album needs to be listened to in its entirety for the best effect. The Dirty Projectors team up with David Byrne on “Knotty Pine,” while Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings provide some soulful “Inspiration Information.” The Decemberists perform “Sleepless,” while Feist and Ben Gibbard team up on “Train Song.” Iron & Wine, Andrew Bird, My Morning Jacket, and Arcade Fire all appear on the album.

On N.A.S.A.’s The Spirit Of Apollo George Clinton and Chali 2na Fish rock “There’s A Party (Feat. George Clinton & Chali 2na)” and dancheall wonder Sizzla joins Lovefoxxx, and the nasty female rapper Amanda Blank on the track “A Volta (Feat. Sizzla, Amanda Blank & Lovefoxxx).” My favorite duo on any of these indie compilations appears on the N.A.S.A. album when Tom Waits and Kool Keith collaborate on “Spacious Thoughts (Feat. Tom Waits & Kool Keith)”. M.I.A., Santogold, Nick Zinner, and Spank Rock drive the electro-rap jam “Whachadoin? (Feat. Spank Rock, M.I.A., Santogold & Nick Zinner)“. The N.A.S.A. album certainly contains the most interesting lineup of artists, including David Byrne, Gift of Gab, Chuck D, DJ Z-Trip, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, KRS-One, Seu Jorge, Ras Congo, and Scarface on tracks like  “Money (Feat. David Byrne, Chuck D, Ras Congo, Seu Jorge & Z-Trip),” “The People Tree (Feat. David Byrne, Chali 2na, Gift Of Gab & Z-Trip),” “Hip Hop (Feat. KRS-One, Fatlip & Slim Kid Tre),” “Strange Enough (Feat. Karen O, Ol’ Dirty Bastard & Fatlip),” and “The Mayor (Feat. The Cool Kids, Ghostface Killah, Scarface & DJ AM).”

Alborosie, Ini Kamoze, the Itals, and Reggae Gold 2009 provide this year’s sweltering summer reggae soundtrack. On the new Dave Matthews Band album Big Whiskey And The GrooGrux King the track “Funny The Way It Is” proves the band is still putting out quality music. DJ JS-1 gathers some talented indie rappers on No Sellout, for example, Aesop Rock and C Ray Wallz rock the mics on “Karma Killerz.”

TOP 20 ALBUMS OF JUNE 2009 – BEST OF 2009 SUMMER MUSIC

TOP 15 for MARCH 2009!!!

March 2009

  1. Buddy Holly Memorial Collection [Geffen 2009]
  2. Various ArtistsPenthouse Showcase Volume 2 [VP Records 2009]
  3. Queen IfricaRoad to Mobay [VP Records 2009]
  4. Various ArtistsGold Mine Riddim [Gargamel 2009]
  5. Various ArtistsRagga Ragga Ragga 2009 [Greenseeves 2009]
  6. Randy TravisI Told You So: The Ultimate Hits of Randy Travis [Warner Brothers 2009]
  7. Anthony B Rise Up [Greensleeves 2009]
  8. Various ArtistsRiddim Driven: Beauty and the Beast [VP Records 2009]
  9. Various Artists Riddim Driven: Rocksteady [VP Records 2009]
  10. Black CrowesWar Paint Live [Eagle Records 2009]
  11. Willie NelsonNaked Willie [Sony 2009]
  12. Leonard CohenLive in London [Sony 2009]
  13. Bruce SpringsteenWorking on a Dream [Columbia 2009]
  14. Various ArtistsCadillac Records (Original Soundtrack) [Sony 2008]
  15. Various Artists Penthouse Showcase Volume 3: Automatic Riddim [VP Records 2009]

Buddy Holly, the real king of Texas rock n’ roll music, lived a short and prolific life. He was the Biggie Smalls of Lubbock. But instead of a blaze of gunfire, Holly went down in a plane crash. This new collection of recordings bring the raw Buddy Holly to the music world. The skinny and nerdy Texan redefined rock and roll music and influenced the British rockers who invaded America in the 1960s. The Beatles were recycled Crickets. It is very easy to be proud of this lanky Texan genius.

Penthouse Showcase Volume 2 is an important contribution to roots reggae music. Bushman pays tribute to Peter Tosh with sizzlin’ covers of “African” and “You Can’t Blame the Youth.” Sweet reggae tracks include Romain Virgo’s “Mi Caan Sleep”  and Queen Ifrica’s humorous “Below the Waist.” Beres Hammond also lends his voice to some of the tracks adding another layer of sweetness.

The Gold Mine Riddim 2009 includes tracks by Gyptian and Buju Banton. The Riddim hot! The 2009 Ragga Ragga Ragga installment offers the killer tracks Bounty Killer’s “Corrupt,” Laden’s “Time to Shine,” and Vybz Kartel’s “Life Sweet.”

TOP 15 for MARCH 2009!!!

TOP 10!!! September 2008

September 2008

1. Michael Franti & SpearheadAll Rebel Rockers [Anti 2008]
2. Graham WilkinsonGraham Wilkinson [Township Records 2008]
3. Burning SpearJah Is Real [Burning Music 2008]
4. John Brown’s BodyAmplify [MRI Associated 2008]
5. Busy Signal Loaded [VP Records 2008]
6. James Levy Blood Red Rose [Township Records 2008]
7. Beres Hammond A Moment in Time [VP Records 2008]
8. Queen IfricaFyah Muma [Flames 2008]
9. Kimya DawsonAlphabutt [K Records 2008]
10. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings 1000 Days, 1000 Nights [Daptone 2007]

Michael Franti & Spearhead have released an excellent reggae and pop album. The addition of the strong voice of reggae seductress Cherine Anderson over the heavy bass riddims of Sly & Robbie make this album a head nodder. “The Rude Boys Back in Town” and “Soundsystem” display Spearhead’s block rocking ability while two versions of “Hey World” encapsulate Franti’s ability to say something meaningful over good music.

The 2008 Austin City Limit’s Music Festival introduced the world to some of the best local music coming out of Austin, Texas. Christopher Denny an Arkansas native and presently an Austin-based singer-songwriter crooner and backed by Austin’s Underground Township rocked the Austin Ventures stage. Furthermore Graham Wilkinson of the Underground Township released an excellent compilation of solo acoustic gems this month. Many organic grooves are coming out of Austin. Wayne Dalchau’s Township Records released several great albums in the last month, including Wilkinson’s new album and James Levy’s Blood Red Rose. Wayne is also working on a much anticipated Township Records compilation that will include Chris Denny, Graham Wilkinson, and other Township Records artists.

Burning Spear’s new album Jah Is Real flows smoothly and feels refreshingly natural and original. One can see the party and imagery that emerges from the single “Jam Cruise.” It is amazing that the Spear can drop tunes like this over four decades. Rather live or in the studio Burning Spear embodies roots reggae music.

Plus a mention of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and their phenomenal performance at Austin City Limits is needed here. The soulful group dropped funk and love on Austin, bringing the audience alive on a hot Saturday afternoon. Much dancing ensued and these soul players deserve their props. John Fogerty kicked ass and took names, playing “Down on the Corner,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” and “Lookin’ Out My Back Door.”

TOP 10!!! September 2008

JamTex Top 10 for July 2008

July 2008
1. DubmatixRenegade Rocker [Dubmatrix 2008]
2. Hayes CarllTrouble In Mind [Lost Highway 2008]
3. Various Artists Reggae Gold 2008 [VP Records 2008]
4. Willie NelsonOne Hell of a Ride [Box Set] [Sony 2008]
5. Joe Ely and Joel Guzman – Live Cactus [Rack’em Records 2008]
6. Alejandro Escovedo Real Animal [Back Porch Records 2008]
7. DJ Yoda Fabriclive 39 [Fabric 2008]
8. Ryan Bingham Mescalito [Lost Highway 2007]
9. EtanaThe Strong One [VP Records 2008]
10. Various Artist Ragga Ragga Ragga! 2008 [Greensleeves 2008]

Dubmatix‘s new album Renegade Rockers offers some true gems with classic dancehall don Pinchers and rocksteady veteran Alton Ellis laying down superb tracks with the Canadian dubmaster. Lining up sensational reggae vocalist like Willi Williams, Linval Thompson, and Ranking Joe, Dubmatix has produced dynamite soundscapes to be played loudly in the hot Texas heat.

Hayes Carll‘s “She Left for Jesus” from his new album Trouble in Mind is the best country song of the year if not the decade. Witty, humorous, and delightfully sounding Hayes Carll embodies the best of roots music.

VP’s Reggae Gold 2008 compiled some of the hottest reggae coming out of the Caribbean, including Mavado, Beenie Man, Bugle, Richie Spice, and Collie Buddz. Syren Hall‘s “Sombody Come Get Me” and Tarrus Riley‘s “Ease Off” play like smooth roots reggae. The compilation contains burning dancehall anthems, such as Stephen Marley and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley‘s “The Mission.” YT‘s “Champion Sound” kills the competition, dropping bombs and crazy bass.

For a trek across New Mexico and Arizona and onto the old casinos of downtown Las Vegas, the sounds of Joe Ely and Joel Guzman‘s new album Live Cactus framed a passing desert landscape. And where eventually the desert plain gave way to mad rapids on the swollen Colorado River rampaging down the truly grand canyons of the American Southwest.

JamTex Top 10 for July 2008

Jam-Tex Top Ten!!!

The Jam-Tex Top Ten: June 2008

  1. She & HimVolume 1 [Merge Records 2008]
  2. Taj Weekes & AdowaDeidem [Jatta Records 2008]
  3. Richie SpiceGideon Boot [VP Records 2008]
  4. James McMurtryJust Us Kids [Lightning Rod]
  5. Half PintNo Stress Express [Varese Fontana 2008]
  6. Rootz UndergroundMovement [Mystic Urchin Music 2008]
  7. LucianoJah is My Navigator [VP Records 2008]
  8. My Morning JacketEvil Urges [Ato Records 2008]
  9. The RaconteursConsolers of the Lonely [Warner Brothers 2008]
  10. R.E.M.Accelerate [Warner Brothers 2008]
She & Him’s album Volume 1 takes the number one slot because it sounds like nothing else coming out right now. The so-called Indie/Pop/Country mash up makes for a quite refreshing musical experience. It sounds like Phil Specter and without machines. M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel make magic on trakcs like “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here.”
Richie Spice, Taj Weekes, Rootz Underground, Half Pint, and Luciano all released essential roots reggae albums this 2008, providing perfect tunes for a beautiful summertime soundtrack.

Richie Spice’s album Gideon Boot and especially the tracks “Di Plane Land” and “Wrap Up A Draw” weave together meaningful message, positive vibes, and sweet reggae music. Taj Weeks’s song “Hollow Display,” Luciano’s “Sweet Jamaica,” Half Pint’s “Babylon Release the Chains,” and the Rootz Underground’s “Hammer” display the best of roots music pulsating out from the Caribbean this summer.

James McMurtry’s album Just Us Kids reveals the feelings of the majority of working-class Texans toward the current presidential administration, making it the best political music coming out of Texas. “Cheney’s Toy,” the searing insightful critique of the failed Bush presidency, captures the political disaster and economic tragedy that is Bush and Cheney’s legacy. Following in the footsteps of the powerful album Childish Things, McMurtry’s Just Us Kids piles on the political criticism soaked in some of the best Texas folk, rock, and roots music blossoming out of the Texas Plains and Hill Country.
Jim James is the voice of modern folk rock, resting atop the rock band from Louisville, Kentucky–My Morning Jacket. The new album Evil Urges displays the Kentuckians’ talent and beckons to the music fan to see these youngsters rock live. For an example of Jim James’s vocal talent listen to his collaborative work with Calexico on the track “Goin to Acapulco” (a Bob Dylan cover) from the soundtrack I’m Not There.

Jam-Tex Top Ten!!!