Saturday, May 28, 2005

Jah Shaka at the Coronet, Friday May 20, by J

The Coronet is a new venue for Jah Shaka, and is a refurbished old theatre in Elephant and Castle. The change of venue came about due to the council being no longer willing to book live music events at the University Events Centre (the home of Shaka dances for the last ten years) following a recent speight of complaints from newly built residential homes in close proximity to the old venue.

Jah Shaka had set up his sound centre at the front of the floor with large stacks in each corner. Arriving at the venue by 11.30 the then sparse crowd steadily grew over the next few hours till a solid crowd filled the venue. I found it an excellent venue, with security tight but polite, friendly bar service, and good facilities.

As to be expected Jah Shaka played an outstanding selection, quite early running the vocal then the dub and often playing various dub plates of a tune while chanting and singing. Many of the versions and dubs were Shaka specials that got harder and heavier as the night progressed. It was a joy as always to hear Jah Shaka chanting and singing, even though he is renowned for his dubs and dub albums, a highlight was hearing him chant and sing some of the lyrics off his vocal albums (King's Music, Revelation Songs - essential to a roots collection) over heavy dub plates. Hearing him singing Revelation 18 over a version of the Blood Dunza riddim was fantastic, and another highlight was his special of Rastaman Camp.

As much as I may love the mad bass and power of Aba-Shaanti's sound, the rumble of King Earthquake that makes the my flesh reverberate when he runs the bass heavy, or the wicked energy you feel from Channel One sound system, for me as it says on the flyer, Jah Shaka is, Zulu Warrior, King of Sound System. You may not understand at your first Shaka dance, maybe not even your second or third, but no one has a collection of plates and tunes like Jah Shaka and at every dance he only scratches the surface of it. When he is on the mic he's powerful, spiritual and intense like no one else, he has dedicated his life and purpose to spread the teachings and message of Rastafari through roots rock reggae. He has played for the last 30 odd years non-stop, when roots was not the flavour of the month, and when only a handful of people would attend a dance. If you want to call yourself a sound system, this is the man who provides the example of what a sound system is all about. He is uncompromising, passionate and purposeful.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Reggae's Return To Roots

This article looks at how "...a Rastafarian-reggae renaissance led by a spate of young, conscious artists...(is turning)... the dancehall into a tuneful house of worship".

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Inna Yardwise Session

Wellington dancehall massive listen up!

The Yardwise Crew are back again to bring you another session of irie ruffness. For the past 2 years, Yardwise have spread roots, reality and culture throughout the city and have proven themselves to be one of Wellington's premier reggae/dancehall/jungle suppliers, consistently dropping the freshest and heaviest cuts.

Inna Yardwise Session, Bar Bodega, Saturday 28th May. Listen in to the Homebass 'inna Yardwise Session' special on Active 89 FM, 11pm, Thursday 26 May for info and giveaways.

Yardwise forever and a pop-pop never!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Legends of Roots, London Astoria, Sunday May 15

Read on for a report of the 'Legends of Roots' gig, which took place in London recently. These reviews will be a regular feature, and will comprise the experiences of a Wellingtonian (by the name of J) inna London roots scene. While being in London for the past few years, J has seen and heard some of the legends of reggae while at the same time increasing his record collection exponentially. Thanks to J for the following report and stay tuned for more.

"When I heard about this gig, my first impression was how aptly named it was, with The Meditations, The Wailing Souls, Fred Locks, Junior Delgado, and Israel Vibration on the bill – it truly was a night of ‘the legends of roots’. Sadly however, at the beginning of April, Junior 'Jux' Delgado passed away, so as a tribute, Junior’s band and children were to perform in his place. When we arrived a queue had already formed to the end of the street...even if you had a ticket. By the time we got through the doors The Meditations had already started playing, so I sadly missed most of their performance. Next up were the Wailing Souls. Although not all four of the original line up was present, with classics tracks like ‘Fire Coal Man’, or the finale ‘Firehouse Rock’ they were the business, sweet vocal harmonies and great tunes.

Next up was one of the real stand outs of the night for me, Fred Locks. I had not previously heard much of his work, but after seeing him I'd go so far to say his music is essential to every roots reggae lover's collection. He is a big performer on stage with a big beautiful roots rock reggae sound. What I enjoyed most about his set, was along with the sweet lyrics and heavier roots sound, you could also hear compelling and catchy melody's throughout, either through the players or the backing vocalists. Stand out tune for me, 'Vision of Redemption'.

Following on from that, was a very special performance from Junior Delgado's band with one of his children performing vocals. The set was heavier with harder rhythms, and livened the place right up. The performance was passionate and powerful, a fitting tribute to a talented roots artist who will be sadly missed. The final act was Israel Vibration, and embarrassingly I have to admit I had not heard much of their material prior to the concert. I soon realised what I had been missing out on. They are truly an inspirational band, and played a solid set. Cecil 'Skelly' Spence, blew me away, he has a great and distinctive voice. To finish the evening all the performers returned to the stage to perform 'Same Song'.

I feel blessed and somewhat overwhelmed to have been able to see so many wicked acts on one night, any of the five acts could have headlined, such was the class of each and every act on the bill. A fantastic night, with legendary sounds".

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Vital Sounds

This Friday 20th May sees Wellington's heavyweight Soundsystem, Vital Sounds, back again for another session at Good Luck Bar. DJs Manray and Topknot will be playing the tunes, along with Ras Stone and Iya Far-I on the mic. Vital Sounds are one of Wellington's best soundsystems, spinning classic reggae, lover's rock, ska and funk alongside fresh dancehall rhythms, and consistently putting on some of the most wicked parties in the city. Be sure to check them out, they're on from 12 am onwards.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Top Ten Selections - Spin Zero

This is something that will be a regular feature (participants willing) on NiceUp. Every month, I’m going to try and get an unsuspecting person to contribute a top 10 listing of some sort. My first contributor has been mashing up dance-floors around the city for a few years now. DJ Spin Zero is a founding member of one of the most solid and heavy crews in the city, the Yardwise Crew. He is also a producer, has hosted shows on Radio Active 89 FM, and is widely known for his bass-heavy, classic jungle, dancehall and reggae selections. Thanks to the Spinna for his top 10 track selections in May (in no order of importance):

1. Revolution 5 – Roots Manuva
2. Babylon Falling – Twinkle Brothers
3. Jah Jah City – Capleton
4. Turn It Around – The Blackseeds
5. No More Fighting – Althea and Donna
6. Babylon A Use Dem Brain – Sizzla and Capleton
7. Stand Up And Fight – Shaggy
8. No Matta Me – Lady Saw
9. They Must Go Down – Turbulence
10. Carry Go Bring Come – Justin Hinds and the Dominoes

Monday, May 16, 2005

Blazing Flyer

Ghetto Red Hot

The weekend started off in top form on Friday night with a gig called ‘Ghetto Red Hot’ that took place at Room 101 on Ghuznee Street. Room 101 is a new venue in Wellington and is located downstairs at the longstanding Bar Bodega. This gig celebrated ‘…when Jamaican dancehall music reunited with its American descendant, hip-hop, and was a musical combination-special of heavy 80s, 90s and current dancehall reggae alongside the old-school and new-school of Jamaican influenced hip-hop from the US, Canada, Europe and NZ’. DJs Art Official and Spin Zero from the Yardwise crew hosted the night, with special guests Jnr Ranks from the Dancehall Dons (one of Wellington’s oldest crews) and Iya Far-I from Christchurch’s Dubwise Soundsystem.

The night lived up to expectations, with a great selection of hip-hop influenced dancehall and reggae. Room 101 is fast becoming one of my favourite venues for gigs of this nature, with its chilled out and intimate environment, yet one that still provides a nice dance-floor space. The crowd was large and a nice party vibe was sustained the whole night. Big up to the Yardwise family for putting on yet another night of quality sounds.

On Saturday night the Matterhorn was host to a night of reggae entitled ‘Passion Smash’. DJs on the night were Barney Ferrari (Barnaby Weir from the Blackseeds), Duke the Conqueror (Duke Willis) and Tonie Chiang. I did not check this out but heard there was a big turn-out.

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Down-Low

I popped in briefly to Indigo on Friday night for the Cornerstone Root’s gig and heard some of their set. I didn’t stay for long but the dance floor was full and the band sounded good.

Also tuned into the Roots and Culture show on Active 89FM on Sunday. This long-standing show broadcasts every Sunday from 4-7pm (new extended time) and features some of the best reggae DJs in Wellington on a regular roster. Sunday’s line-up featured DJs Art Official and Spin Zero plus a set from special guest selecta Jasewon. Some of the play list on the day was:

George Nooks - Worry Not Yourself
Jnr Reid - Jailhouse
Johnny Osbourne - Purify Your Heart
Cornel Campbell - Two Face Rasta
Nicodemus - 2000 Clash War
Barry Brown - No Wicked Shall Enter The Kingdom Of Zion
Barrington Levy - Black Rose
Johnny Osbourne - Jahovia
Mighty Diamonds - 4000 Years
Ernest Ranglin & Mudies Allstars - Dark Shadows
Sound Dimension - Rockfort Rock
Lee Perry - Dub Of The Masai
Michael Rose And Jammy - Born Free
Lloyd Parks – Mafia

Radio Active also broadcasts live over the Internet, so make sure you all tune in, Sunday’s 4-7pm for this quality show.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Melbourne Meanderings

Ok, I know that this is only my second post, and I know that this blog is meant to be about reggae in Wellington, but I recently visited Melbourne and I thought I would comment about my small taste of reggae in this city.

From what I managed to gather, Melbourne has a burgeoning reggae scene and one which seems to be steadily growing. I heard of a few places selling reggae, and checked out ‘Collector’s Corner’ at 240 Swanston Street which had a good selection of reggae and new dancehall. Performance wise, I noticed the names of a few crews around town, including Rastafari Rhythms, The Housewives, and Natty Sistren Sound and there also appeared to be regular weekly nights happening. Chantdown Soundsystem seemed to be one of the most prominent crews in Melbourne. They are made up of Jesse I and Ras Crucial. Chantdown run monthly ‘Mo Fire’ parties, which, according to Jesse I, have steadily grown in size, culminating in an epic 4th birthday party held last month. I also had the pleasure to attend a monthly gig called ‘Nice Up the Dance’ which was held in a bar called Mi Casa. The DJs selections ranged from roots to ragga to new dancehall, and the vibe of the night was comfortably chilled, but not too chilled to stop the crowd from showing their appreciation on the (near full) dance-floor. Thanks to the players on the night for their nice selections.

I think that what would be mutually beneficial for both the Wellington and Melbourne reggae communities would be to combine forces and run some parties. A chance for new future musical alliances perhaps?

Venus F.T.