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Sezi Yes I

Sezi is a very good friend of mine. Shes part of the same music circles as me and Ive known her for years. I havent done any blog posts in a little while, so I decided to do one on my good sistren. We’ve been doing a lot of shows together this year, doing guest appearances for each other and collaborating. We still have one or two left before the year is finished, too. Gooood times, but Ive been procrastinating on the blogging. So yes, I feel like talking about my friend Sezi.

We both come from a background of teaching kids and doubling as songwriters. Both have multi-ethnic multi-island backgrounds. Sezi has the same love as me for eclectic art and music. I wouldnt want to label her as any particular genre of music or anything. Its a funky mix of reggae and rock and all kinds of GOOD. Poetic lyrics and sweet voice. Once she really starts to get cracking on her guitar shes going to be even more powerful on stage, lol.

Shes a dancer, and it comes out in her performance.  Shes twirling and gyrating the whole time, its wicked. All the yoga she does really seems to give her some crazy karma and energy, I love to play with her. I get a real kick out of playing with her. Actually, its always good energy just to be around Sezi. Its this kind of thing that I love about being a musician. I play with so many different people because the scene is so small and so slow, but it creates a real community of people. I get to do so much different beautiful music, its a blessing that balances the downsides and the money difficulties musicians deal with most of the time.

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The Seven Year Itch

well, my good bredgrin Protoje’s album will be coming out soon. The Seven Year Itch is gettin a lot of buzz on the net an on the waves, and everybodys looking forward to it. This album is close to my heart, I got to play on two of the tracks and its just such crazy new wave 21st century type stuff. Its over a year Ive been working with Protoje, and to hear his particular flavour of this  DubRock music that we’re exploring just spreading gives me such a wicked feeling. Something new and different. Experimental. The album really goes through some different sounds and topics, and theres a real range of music and feeling to it. I think its goin to be epic.

Thats what I love about Protojes music, and my own stuff as well. Freedom from formulas and rules, trying to create something unique.  I really enjoy working with Protoje. His whole approach to the music is similar to mine. Submission to the music, his love for live music and organic growth just shows what a true artist he is. We come from the same love of reggae, but we like to mix it up, I bring some rock, he brings some hiphop, dancehall flavour. Some Jazzy shit. You know, its good when anything goes, just free up. We’re really experimenting and playing with the music itself. The live shows have been getting bigger and better, and the Indiggnation band is goin to really deliver some righteous anger. To raas.

The seven year itch, as Protoje says, is about the feeling of uncertainty after being married for awhile, wondering if you should stay or go. Except its more to do with music rather than a wifey. Which is something a lot of people in music have to go through. Something I stop an think about at times. I mean, I love my music and my instruments. If anything, Im soon goin to start gettin to be like Chinna Smith, who i hear has even said onstage “mi will stay ah mi bloodclaat verandah an play music, wah kinda fuckry dis?” or something along those lines. Which is something I find myself saying too, from time to time. Its such a passion, but such a bittersweet experience sometimes, you get bitter. So the album title, to me, is powerful. Very poignant. Ive been playing music in this scene for ten years, and let me tell you, sometimes you really wonder if its really worth it. But what else is going to give you that fire?

 

Anyway, the album goes through a lot more than just that. But if youre reading this, youre probably already a little familiar with Protoje. So go get more familiar, listen to the baddest lyricist, some wicked 21st century Jamaican music. And listen to the title track, which has my acoustic composition as the main rhythm guitar track, and also “Wrong Side of the law”, me doin lead guitar on this beautiful 1950s Gibson Les Paul at Don Corleones studio. That guitar is so sweet! So yeah, go digg it. I cant wait to see what reception this album gets,  you know? People seem ready for different music. The times, the signs, I think, and I really hope, that this new wave of energy in Jamaica will really break us free from the hit single pop industry mentality. At least for awhile, I guess. Anything hot will get commercialised and watered down eventually.

check out his website if you havent already, too

http://www.protoje.com/

 

Bless up

Sting and The Police

One of my biggest influences as a musician is a set of blokes  that came out of England in the late seventies (ok, Stuart Copeland, the drummer was a yankee). The Police are a band that I grew up listening to thanks to my parents who raised me up on a lot of different good music. Sting is by far one of my favorite lyricists, the man is a modern shakespeare. His work as a solo artist is just as amazing to me, and it takes balls to experiment so much with your sound like that after already getting mainstream success. Reggae and Rock are my two favorite music styles, and this band blends the style so beautifully, theyre at the top of any Dubrock playlist I would put together. Because this band is serious Dubrock!

Long before I started thinking about a dubrock sound, or was even born, lol. If you just listen to half of “Walking on the moon” or the beginning of “Regatta du blanc”, the blistering hi hat work with that delay on it, the sick bass lines that Sting put down, and the guitars…. jah know star. I grew up listening to lots of Reggae and Rock legends, like Bob Marley, or The Beatles, but my first post on this kind of thing, I really want to do about The Police. Because this is the type of eclectic vibe Im trying to do with my music. A real out of the box, world music thing.  Its no wonder they were THE biggest thing in their prime, the biggest concerts, a tour that lasted something like two years, i think? All from a three piece band. Something inspirational to me, my band, StoneDub is a three piece too. But anyway, as I said, nobody had that sound. Other than the Clash (also a band I love) no other white bands at the time were really digging the reggae sound that much. This shit was epic, really a band for the history books.  I would never have chosen that band name myself, but the Police are one of my favorite bands.

the Police

If youve never heard their music, you should. Unless you jus want to hear the top 40 playlists on the radio, lol. Most of my favorite artists are from the 60s and 70s, maybe a little of the 80s. Right now, ive been listening to a raatid mix cd in the car on repeat, straight punky dubrock in my ears, courtesy of one of the sickest three piece bands ever, The Police.

Bless up

J Dub

new years reflections

So Ive decided to start a blog. A place to reflect on my musical life, and the things that get me buzzed. Also to reflect on my experiences and what they mean to me as a singer and player of instruments. Thinking about the last year, or even the last ten years, gives me such a mixture of feelings, and lots of things I think about a lot. The music lifestyle always has a lot of ups and downs, and Jamaica is a land of serious extremes. One day yuh nice, the next day its rough again. But its a real trip. I love it. I came back to Jamaica in late 2007 to focus all my energy on music and its been a constant ride, lots of growth as a musician and an artist, lots of experiences i might not have had anywhere else. But its been one tough trod.
The main thing with Jamaica is that its a small pie that youre trying to get a little slice of. So few venues and shows, so many talented people. The pickings can be slim sometimes. Not to mention if we get into the politics, the bad-mind bullshit that happens, payola, and so on. But thats an entire separate story in itself, for some other time. So….. naturally you have to just persevere and make sacrifices, just like anywhere else. Its not unique to Jamaica, but from what I see in other countries, it really is especially difficult here.
A lot of the time its a bitter sweet experience, exhausted, long nights, not being paid after hours onstage, not a drink or even a little gas money. After putting in so much time and energy, driving up and down, rehearsing.Disorganised soundcheck for the show, and not even get to go home to eat or bathe before showtime. “is jus’ so it go”. You just have to keep supporting the music until it really starts to support you. And it has its moments.
Life as a free-lance musician is almost always busy recently. Ive been playing with more and more bands over the years, always an average of 4 or 5 different bands, with occasional random gigs with a singer or a different band. One thing I know, the more instruments you play, the more music you get to play = ). Usually only one or two of the bands is busy enough to be a constant activity (sometimes I sit at home broke with nothing to do but play music by myself), but it all helps to be a well rounded musician. Jamaica really is a land of diversity. Especially when it comes to the music. Along with all the mainstream reggae and dancehall stuff i do, theres been lots of rock, jazz, and stuff I dont want to put in a box. But its the work with different musicians that has been a blessing. Especially when it comes to the dynamics of a reggae performance, and the roles that different band members play, all of these things are a science/art that you have to live to learn. So I know it was a good choice to come home and be immersed. The jamming is sweet, even if its hours and days of toil for a short hour or two of excitement. But its worth it.
This year has had some cool highlights too. I finally got to play at Sumfest, with Protoje, my bredgrin whose band “Indiggnation” I play in. We did a festival in Toronto, in Dundas square, me him and Jah9. It was a few thousand people, probably the biggest crowd Ive gotten to play for so far, but Im still dreaming of stadiums. But it was still a nice feeling.

performance shot from Manifesto TO festival

 

Working with the Uprising Roots band has been the definition of irie. I got to play with John Holt in Negril. If youre a serious reggae fan, you have to know John Holt, a major vintage reggae singer. If not, youve still almost surely heard his songs. And I also met and did a few shows with Winston Makanuff, someone I discovered a year ago and I would have to say is one of my favorite singer/songwriters now, I know all of the time listening to his stuff and then playing with him has affected me as an artist. Who else? Fredlocks was cool. And Sizzla rushed on the stage and grabbed a mic the other night when we were playing in Trench Town. That was crazy too, Sizzla and his entourage. So nuff respect to Uprising. And working with Protoje and Jah9, my two favorite lyricists of my generation! We’ve been playing and growing together for awhile, and what can I say? I love my music family. Its good to get a feeling that music in Jamaica is still growing and developing positively, anyone who says reggae is dead or not growing needs to get out more.


Last but not least, playing at Jamnesia in Bull Bay every other week with From the Deep- the sons of Billy Mystic of the Mystic Revealers, has been a constant joy for the last two years. From the Deep and the crew out there has been the source of some good times. Sometimes even jamming with the man Billy Mystic himself, this whole family is a set of musicians and songwriters that I have the utmost respect and admiration for. But these are all things I could write pages about, let me just say theres been some wicked stuff.

from the deep, jamming at jamnesia
So looking back, looking around, looking forward. It looks good! With all the fuckry, I still have to give thanks. And next year I hope will be even better. Touring with Protoje, two of my self-produced songs going on a compilation album, so many promising things that may manifest. And I also decided to start this blog. Just about people or music that I want to share, or talk about. Stuff that inspires me or I just dig a lot. If you’re reading this, I hope you find it an interesting perspective on Jamaican music life, or something, or whatever. I just hope I can find enough time to practice and keep getting better, lol.
Bless up.

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