Kavana (intention) is the new album by a group from New York called Zusha. The trio’s laid back sound is characterized by wordless vocals with 3-part harmonies, accompanied by acoustic instruments. On Kavana you’ll hear a captivating mix of reggae, pop, folk, jazz and beyond.
“To us, kavana means giving more of yourself,” Explains percussionist Elisha Mlotek. “It’s the direction of the heart.”
The lineup on Kavana features Elisha Mlotek on percussion and vocals; Zachariah “Juke” Goldshmiedt on acoustic guitar and vocals; and Shlomo Gaisin on lead vocals. Guests include Jon Seale on percussion and electric guitar; Max Jacob on acoustic and electric bass; Jeremy Gustin on drums and percussion; Jake Sherman on keyboards; Oliver hill on violin and viola; Jas Walton on tenor saxophone; Jason Disu on trombone; Mike Fatum on trumpet; and Perrin Cloutier on accordion.
Zusha’s members started playing together when they were in college. Mlotek grew up with Yiddish theatre and klezmer music, guitarist Zachariah Goldschmiedt had been working with an electro-funk band, and singer Shlomo Gaisin had played saxophone and classical piano. The three met in New York’s the East Village, where they would get together to sing in apartments filled with friends.
Afro-Spanish Spanish singer-songwriter and composer Buika developed Vivir sin miedo (To Live without Fear) in Miami, which is her current home. Buika is a do it yourself artist so she composed and played all the instruments in her original demos for the new album while she was in Miami, New York and Madrid.
Buika is known for venturing into different musical directions. In the past, she has recorded Afropop, flamenco, boleros, Cuban music, jazz and others genres. Vivir sin miedo presents another eclectic mix with a Caribbean flavor and smooth pop flavor, including reggae, dub, ragga, flamenco, R&B, afrobeat, pop and gospel, although the dub feel seems to permeate most of the album. Buika is also trying to appeal to a wider audience so she sings in a mix of Spanish and English.
With the support of Warner Music, Buika invited two well-known international artists Meshell Ndegeocello (bass) and Jason Mraz (vocals), as well as masterful flamenco singer Potito. The album was recorded in London, co-produced by Martin Terefe (Coldplay, James Blunt, KT Tunstall, Zaz), who played bass and guitars on Vivir sin miedo.
Vivir sin miedo is clearly an effort to expand Buika’s reach to English-language and bilingual pop fans as well as the reggae market.
Kings and Queens is a critically acclaimed modern reggae album by American band John Brown’s Body. The group specializes in a mix of roots reggae, dub and catchy pop hooks, making them one of the most popular acts in the U.S. reggae scene. The group is based in the Northeast, led by singer-songwriter and producer Elliot Martin, who wrote all the songs.
John Brown’s Body creates a fine tuned balance between acoustic and electric, blending vocals, brass and drums with electric instruments and electronics. Highlights include ‘Plantation’, a slow-paced song with a heavy beat enhanced with fabulous bass synths and additional electronics.
Another great piece is ‘The Battle,’ where the band delivers classic reggae fused with dub elements and great vocal overdubs.
Lastly, ‘Old John Brown’ stands out, providing a jam band vibe topped with fabulous vocals.
The lineup on the album includes Elliot Martin on lead vocals, percussion and programming; Nate Edgar on bass; Tommy Benedetti on drums; Drew Sayers on tenor and baritone saxophone; Sam Dechenne on trumpet; Scott Flynn on trombone; Mike Keenan on guitar; and Jon Petronzio on keyboards. Guests are Brian “Bongo” Davis on percussion and Nate Richardson on guitar.
A new version of this album will be out on April 7, 2015. Kings And Queens in Dub presents the entire Kings And Queens mixed by dub masters such as Ticklah, Dubmatix, Dubfader (of 10 Ft. Ganja Plant), UK legend Dennis Bovell, Yesking, Michael G (of Easy Star All-Stars), Lord Echo (of The Black Seeds), and others.
4/20 Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl (with Ticklah)
5/23 Monterey, CA – California Roots Music and Art Festival
7/17 Trumansburg, NY – Finger Lakes Grass Roots Festival of Music and Dance
Easy Star Records has announced the release of a special anniversary edition of Dub Side of the Moon with new artwork, an in-depth liner note booklet and two bonus tracks, including “Breathe 2014” featuring additional vocals by Eric Rachmany of Rebelution, Metric Man, and Ruff Scott of the Easy Star All-Stars.
The original Dub Side of the Moon was released in 2004. The complete reggae version of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon was a tremendous success. It remained on the Billboard Reggae Charts for more than 7 years.
The Easy Star All Stars will be touring the West Coast of the United States for the Dub Steady Tour, with new labelmates Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and Colorado’s Tatanka. The Easy Star All Stars will be performing Dub Side live in its entirety together with classic material from the band’s repertoire including original songs and tracks from the other tribute albums. Select shows will also include new animated visuals. Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad will be supporting the release of Steady, their first album on Easy Star Records, which comes out September 30.
Dub Side Of The Moon Anniversary Fall Tour
09/12/14 – Crystal Ball Club Casino – Crystal Bay, NV *
09/13/14 – The Catalyst – Santa Cruz, CA *
09/14/14 – Unity Fest – Guerneville, CA
09/15/14 – W.O.W. Hall – Eugene, OR *
09/17/14 – Jazzbones – Tacoma, WA ^
09/18/14 – Venue – Vancouver, WA ^
09/19/14 – Wonder Ballroom – Portland, OR ^
09/20/14 – Slim’s – San Francisco, CA ^
09/21/14 – Ace of Spades – Sacramento, CA ^
09/22/14 – Soho – Santa Barbara, CA ^
09/24/14 – House of Blues – Las Vegas, NV ^
09/25/14 – The Rialto Theatre – Tucson, AZ ^ (also with Buckwheat Zydeco)
09/26/14 – Belly Up Tavern – Solana Beach, CA ^
09/27/14 – House of Blues – Los Angeles, CA ^ (also with Arise Roots)
09/28/14 – The Coach House – San Juan Capistrano, CA ^
* with Tatanka
^ with Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad & Tatanka
Reggae band Easy Star All-Stars is known for its successful reggaefied tributes to various popular artists and recordings, including Dub Side of the Moon (2003), Radiodread (2006) and Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band (2009). To celebrate Michael Jackson’s birthday, which is on August 29th, the Easy Star All-Stars are releasing their new album titled Easy Star’s Thrillah this week. Easy Star’s Thrillah is the reggae adaptation of one of the greatest selling records of all time, Michael Jackson’s Thriller. In addition, the band will also go on tour, starting in September.
Easy Star All-Stars is a reggae reggae collective with a rotating lineup of musicians and singers. The and arranger is Michael Goldwasser on guitars, keyboards, backing vocals and percussion. Easy Star’s Thrillah brings back several of the reggae luminaries from previous albums, such as vocalists Michael Rose (Black Uhuru), Steel Pulse, Luciano, Mojo Morgan (Morgan Heritage), together with guest instrumentalists such as Yossi Fine (David Bowie, Lou Reed, Stanley Jordan), Joe Tomino (Dub Trio/Matisyahu), Andy Farag (Umphrey’s McGee), and horn tracks by funk/hip-hop band Hadag Nachash.
“We’ve always tackled the greats – The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Radiohead – but while we wanted to take on another huge album, we also wanted to blaze new trails,” says says Easy Star Records co-founder Lem Oppenheimer. “In Thriller we found those new trails in a number of firsts for the series: the first album by an American artist, the first non-concept album, the first R&B/soul record, as well as the first release from the 80s.”
“For me, I was most excited for Thriller,” says Michael Goldwasser. “I was always more of an R&B/soul and reggae kid growing up and I have an intense personal connection to Michael Jackson’s music… Writing the arrangements for this album was a cool challenge. I didn’t have to try to make non-dance music into dance music as on our previous albums because the original Thriller is so danceable already, but I needed to find ways to make each song groove in a different way from the original version. I didn’t want any of the arrangements to be obvious in that regard.”
In great reggae tradition, Easy Star All-Stars have slowed down the tempo of some of Michael Jackson’s
most famous songs, including the hit ‘Thriller.’ Easy Star’s Thrillah is a winning mix of reggae, dub and R&B.
Easy Star All-Stars US Tour Dates:
Sep 07 – Madison, WI at High Noon – w/Cas Haley
Sep 08 – Clarks Grove, MN at Shangri-La Festival at Harmony Park
Sep 09 – Des Moines, IA at Wooly’s – w/Passafire
Sep 10 – Lawrence, KS at Granada Theater – w/Passafire
Sep 12 – Fort Collins, CO at Aggie Theater – w/Passafire
Sep 13 – Boulder, CO at Fox Theater – w/Passafire
Sep 14 – Denver, CO at Cervante’s Masterpiece Ballroom – w/Passafire
Sep 15 – Aspen, CO at Belly Up – w/Passafire
Sep 16 – Salt Lake City, UT at Urban Lounge – w/Passafire
Sep 18 – Santa Barbara, CA at SoHo – w/Passafire
Sep 19 – Solana Beach, CA at Belly Up Tavern – w/Passafire
Sep 20 – Los Angeles, CA at El Rey Theatre – w/Passafire
Sep 21 – San Francisco, CA at Slim’s – w/Passafire
Sep 22 – Santa Cruz, CA at The Catalyst – w/Passafire
Oct 04 – New York, NY at Irving Plaza – w/The Aggrolites, Passafire
Oct 06 – Carrboro, NC at Cat’s Cradle – w/The Aggrolites
Oct 07 – Washington, DC at Howard Theatre – w/The Aggrolites
Oct 09 – Ann Arbor, MI at Blind Pig – w/The Aggrolites
Oct 11 – Chicago, IL at Reggie’s – w/The Aggrolites
Oct 12 – Waterloo, ON at Starlight – w/The Aggrolites
Oct 13 – Toronto, ON at Lee’s Palace – w/The Aggrolites
Oct 14 – Syracuse, NY at Westcott Theater – w/The Aggrolites
Oct 16 – Boston, MA at Paradise – w/The Aggrolites
Oct 17 – Stowe, VT at Rusty Nail – w/The Aggrolites
Oct 19 – Charlottesville, VA at Jefferson Theater – w/The Aggrolites
Oct 20 – Philadelphia, PA at The Blockley – w/The Aggrolites
After a brief stint at their Hawaiian home with welcoming sold-out shows, The Green is ready to embark on another extensive North American tour kicking off in February. The Green’s upcoming 39-city mainland tour sees the band share the stage with fellow leading reggae artists Rebelution and SOJA.
The majority of the tour dates are alongside Rebelution for their “Peace of Mind Tour.” Rebelution are currently riding high with a #13 debut on the Billboard Top 200 and The Green are proud to support their highly anticipated tour. All three of these acts continue to push the “homegrown reggae” scene forward.
2011 was another breakthrough year for The Green. Their second album Ways & Means (released on Easy Star Records) stayed at #1 on the Billboard Reggae chart for 4 straight weeks in a row, while receiving high profile press exposure. They were also awarded “Artist of the Year” by The DubSide and their album was nominated for “Album of the Year” at The Pier. The band relentlessly toured throughout the year winning new fans and regional press accolades.
Sat/Jan-21 – Honolulu, HI – Kakaako Waterfront Park Amphitheater #
Fri/Jan-27 – Kailua-Kona, HI – King Kamehamehas Kona Beach Hotel #
Sat/Jan-28 – Kahului, HI – Maui Arts & Cultural Center #
Wed/Feb-08 – New Orleans, LA – House Of Blues *
Thu/Feb-09 – Houston, TX – House Of Blues *
Fri/Feb-10 – Austin, TX – Stubbs *
Sat/Feb-11 – Dallas, TX – House Of Blues *
Sun/Feb-12 – Fayetteville, AR – George’s Majestic Lounge *
Wed/Feb-15 – Albuquerque, NM – Sunshine Theater *
Thu/Feb-16 – Tempe, AZ – Marquee Theater *
Fri/Feb-17 – Hollywood, CA – Hollywood Palladium *
Sat/Feb-18 – Oakland, CA – Fox Theater *
Sun/Feb-19 – Santa Cruz, CA – The Catalyst *
Wed/Feb-22 – Chico, CA – Senator Theater *
Thu/Feb-23 – Eugene, OR – McDonald Theatre *
Fri/Feb-24 – Portland, OR – Roseland Theatre *
Sat/Feb-25 – Seattle, WA – Showbox *
Sun/Feb-26 – Vancouver, BC – Venue
Wed/Feb-29 – Calgary, AB – SAIT
Thu/Mar-01 – Nelson, BC – Live At The Royal
Fri/Mar-02 – Fernie, BC – The Northern Bar
Sat/Mar-03 – Spokane, WA – Red Room Lounge
Tue/Mar-06 – Reno, NV – Cargo (Inside Comm Row) ^
Wed/Mar-07 – Orangevale (Sacramento), CA – The Boardwalk ^
Thu/Mar-08 – San Luis Obispo, CA – SLO Brewing Co. ^
Fri/Mar-09 – Solana Beach (San Diego), CA – Belly Up ^
Sat/Mar-10 – Bakersfield, CA – Narducci’s Cafe ^
Sun/Mar-11 – Santa Ana, CA – Yost Theater ^
Wed/Mar-14 – Las Vegas, CA – House Of Blues *
Thu/Mar-15 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot *
Fri/Mar-16 – Grand Junction, CO – Mesa Theater *
Sat/Mar-17 – Denver, CO – The Fillmore *
Tue/Mar-20 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue *
Wed/Mar-21 – Des Moines, IA – Peoples Court *
Thu/Mar-22 – Milwaukee, WI – Pabst Theater *
Fri/Mar-23 – St. Louis, MO – The Pageant *
Sat/Mar-24 – Chicago, IL – Congress Theatre *
Tue/Mar-27 – Detroit, MI – St. Andrews Hall *
Wed/Mar-28 – Covington, KY – Madison Theater *
Thu/Mar-29 – Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall *
Fri/Mar-30 – Cleveland, OH – House Of Blues *
Sat/Mar-31 – Grand Rapids, MI – The Orbit Room *
Hawaii-based reggae band has a new album titled Ways & Means and they will be touring throughout the continental United States, starting in October.
In less than a year, The Green has quickly emerged as one of the most exciting new reggae artists from the United States. Both critics and fans quickly took hold of their youth-infused modern roots reggae sound. Their self-titled debut album The Green was named “Best Reggae Album” of 2010 by iTunes and hit Billboard’s 2010 Year-End Reggae Chart by selling over 20,000 copies.
The band is following up with their second album, Ways & Means, set to be released on October 25th on one of the leading reggae labels – Easy Star Records. The label is home to some of the most accomplished and progressive reggae artists, including the Easy Star All-Stars, John Brown’s Body, Cas Haley, The Black Seeds, Ticklah, Tommy T, The Meditations, and more.
The Green consists of singer Caleb Keolanui, singer-guitarist JP Kennedy, singer-keyboardist Ikaika Antone, and singer-guitarist Zion Thompson. The four members of The Green take pride in the pop-burnished roots reggae style they’ve cooked. Four distinct voices, four sharp songwriting talents, masterful musicianship, and monster grooves add up to one exceptional band.
Fri/Oct-07 – Las Vegas, NV – Pure Aloha Festival
Sat/Oct-08 – Santa Barbara, CA – Velvet Jones
Sun/Oct-09 – Orangevale (Sacramento), CA – The Boardwalk
Tue/Oct-11 – San Luis Obispo, CA – SLO Brewing Company
Wed/Oct-12 – Solana Beach (San Diego), CA – Belly Up
Fri/Oct-14 – Ft. Collins, CO – Aggie Theatre
Sat/Oct-15 – Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater
Sun/Oct-16 – Paonia, CO – The Paradise Theatre
Tue/Oct-18 – Salt Lake City, UT – Vertigo
Wed/Oct-19 – Boise, ID – The Reef
Fri/Oct-21 – Eugene, OR – WOW Hall
Sat/Oct-22 – Seattle, WA – El Corazon
Sun/Oct-23 – Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
Mon/Oct-24 – Bend, OR – Domino Room
Wed/Oct-26 – Santa Cruz, CA – Catalyst Atrium
Thu/Oct-27 – San Francisco, CA – Slim’s
Fri/Oct-28 – Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy
Sat/Oct-29 – Santa Ana, CA – Yost Theatre
Tue/Nov-01 – Dallas, TX – HOB Cambridge
Wed/Nov-02 – Austin, TX – Antone’s
Thu/Nov-03 – New Orleans, LA – HOB Parish
Fri/Nov-04 – Birmingham, AL – Zydeco
Sat/Nov-05 – Atlanta, GA – Masquerade – Hell Stage
Sun/Nov-06 – Jacksonville, FL – Jack Rabbits
Tue/Nov-08 – Orlando, FL – The Social
Wed/Nov-09 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Culture Room
Thu/Nov-10 – Vero Beach, FL – Filthy McNasty’s
Fri/Nov-11 – Satellite Beach, FL – Sports Page
Sat/Nov-12 – Charleston, SC – Pour House
Sun/Nov-13 – Raleigh, NC – Lincoln Theatre
Tue/Nov-15 – Charlottesville, VA – The Southern
Wed/Nov-16 – New York, NY – Highline Ballroom
Thu/Nov-17 – West Chester, PA – The Note
Fri/Nov-18 – Baltimore, MD – The 8×10
Sat/Nov-19 – Cambridge (Boston), MA – Middle East
Sun/Nov-20 – Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall
Mon/Nov-21 – Clifton Park (Albany), NY – Northern Lights
Wed/Nov-23 – Rochester, NY – Water Street Music Hall
The sudden 2006 death of Joseph Hill, leader of roots reggae harmony trio Culture, robbed the music of one of its most charismatic and visionary performers. Rather than cancel the remainder of the tour that the group was on at the time, they continued with Hill’s son Kenyatta, who’d been Culture’s live sound engineer, stepping in as front man.
Despite Kenyatta’s lack of experience at singing, his bloodline made him a natural for the gig and Culture’s many fans worldwide welcomed him. I’ve thus far only seen his live performance via online videos, but it appears that Kenyatta has a goodly measure of the vocal chops and onstage fervor necessary to carry on his father’s work.
This heartfelt and satisfying CD, which contains seven of the last tracks voiced by the elder Hill and an equal number that mark the first recordings of the younger, provides further proof. Kenyatta is no clone and doesn’t yet have the same effortlessly soaring vocal quality as the iconic Joseph, but there are striking similarities in his range, phrasing and knack for emphasis that thus far show his singing to wield a crucial combination of genetics and originality.
The Joseph Hill tracks on Pass the Torch include a few expertly reprised versions of past Culture tunes, though it’s the new songs, co-composed by Kenyatta and producer Lynford “Fatta” Marshall, that really grab hold. Kenyatta eloquently addresses his father’s legacy on “Daddy” and “The Message” (which borrows heavily from Bob Marley’s “Natural Mystic”), lays into time-honored reggae subject matter via “Mariwanna” and sounds so much like the old man on “Same Situation” as to be beyond uncanny.
Time will tell if Kenyatta Hill is able to fully establish himself as an artist free from preconceived familial notions in the way that, say, Ziggy Marley, Andrew Tosh and Femi Kuti have achieved, but the strength and assuredness demonstrated here indicate he’s well underway.
Compilations are a good way to get acquainted with new artists, but they are not always accurate. Putumayo Presents Latin Reggae focuses on reggae from the Spanish speaking countries in Spain and Latin America. While the compilation is satisfactory musically, the selection does not reflect the complete reality of reggae en español.
There are certainly some essential artists represented, such as Puerto Rico’s Cultura Profética, Chile’s Gondwana, Argentina’s Los Cafres and Spain’s Black Gandhi.
The rest of the selection are artists who use reggae in some of their songs, but are not truly reggae acts. Most of them are from Barcelona and belong to the mestizo scene that is popular in Madrid and Barcelona. The producers seem to have focused exclusively on Barcelona because no Madrid reggae groups are featured. Ironically, some of the best roots reggae groups in Spain are based in Madrid: Cañaman (who recorded in Jamaica), Emeterians and Mad Sensi.
In case you can’t afford the whole line of Studio One reggae reissues recently put out by the Massachusetts-based Heartbeat label, pick up this scorching sampler instead. It features half a dozen of the noted Jamaican artists who recorded for Clement “Coxsone” Dodd’s famed Studio One, including solo singers Larry Marshall, Slim Smith and Willie Williams, vocal trios the Viceroys and the Cables and vocal duo the Termites. Each is represented with three songs, and the result is a mini-primer of what made Dodd’s establishment so seminal.
Most of the tracks on Six the Hard Way are from the rocksteady and early reggae eras when soul, R&B and doo-wop influences were still keenly felt but social consciousness and Rastafarian spirituality were emergent forces as well.
Dodd’s production expertise and the skills of the top flight studio musicians he employed are as on the mark as the voices. Gems like Smith’s cheery “Born to Love,” Marshall’s wry “Nanny Goat,” the Termites’ playful but pleading “Have Mercy Mr. Percy” and Williams’ ever-classic “Armagideon Time” (given the extended mix it deserves) sound as great as the day they were recorded, full of unpolished spontaneity and strength.
This is only a smattering of Studio One’s glory days, but six courses still adds up to a most ample feast.