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Reggae night scores big at New Fire
It was all roots, rock, reggae at the latest edition of New Fire, the concert series that features the best of T&T’s vibrant musical underground. It might have been the crowd, the music, or just something in the air, but the event was a success and a memorable night for reggae music.
The March 26 show, titled Fire, Gold and Green, featured two bands: the talented Mystic Elements, featuring Kushite and Black Loyalty, and local reggae stalwarts, Buzzrock. They drew a large crowd, one of the best for the series so far to De Nu Pub, on the corner of French Street and Ariapita Avenue, Port-of-Spain.
MC Attillah Springer introduced Mystic Elements, who featured Kushite first. The young, dreadlocked singer rose from singing in her primary school choir to sharing the stage with Tarrus Riley at Reggae on the Beach in 2013. She said what a privilege it was to perform on the hallowed stage and greeted the musicians in the audience “and I know there’s lots.”
There were. Musicians in the house included Nigel and Nicholas Rojas of Orange Sky, Rapso innovator Bro Resistance, Levi Myers, guitarist Marva Newton, Nickolai Salcedo, as well as members of bands Jus Now, Bush Tea and Kin, among others.
There were plenty of other creative folks as well: filmmakers, artists, fashion designers, graphic designers, as well as business people, professionals, activists, civil servants and more. Not to mention a strong contingent of reggae fans, dreadlocked and devoted, vocal in their appreciation.
After Kushite charmed with conscious lyrics, sweet voice and gentle, frank demeanour, Black Loyalty came on and impressed the crowd with his charismatic delivery.
The band was tight, the musicians giving good support to the singers. Members of Mystic Elements are Anthony “Stoney” Grant (drums), Dominic “Rebel” Gomes (bass), David Joachim (lead guitar), Asim “Potti” Pottinger (rhythm guitar), Chris Sesalito Mc Coon (keyboard), and Dominic Andrews (keyboard and samples).
Buzzrock served up songs from their three albums, Universal Blacks, Iternal Ibration and Dub Choir. Fans lapped it up, with some fans noting a difference in their sound.
Band leader/bassist Beebo explained why in a subsequent interview: "We have begun stripping some of the defining reggae characteristics. We’ve opted to let the keyboardist play on the down beat instead of the tradition reggae strum or skank, which is usually on the second and fourth beat of every bar.
“We have also removed the reggae 'bubble', which is the one-eighth note counter-strum that the organs play.”
He said the change was about keeping “a sense of newness” in their sound, which he called “neo-foundation,” modern reggae music.
“We also wanted to add Afro-beat, soul, jazz, blues and other elements subtly.”
The changes were well received by a very enthusiastic audience.
Members of Buzzrock are: Niamke Phillips (lead vocal, rhythm guitar), Stephen Peterson (lead guitar), Candace Moore (keyboards), Haile-Sion Sam (drums), Kadeem Alleyne and Jovanna (back-up vocals), and Lamar “Beebo” Pollard (bass).
After the performances DJ Matthew Charles stuck with the theme and kept the vibes going.
The New Fire series continues in April, featuring poets from the Verses Poetry Slam, part of the annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest.
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