What a weekend. I had the priviledge of teching the Roots:Remix remote broadcast from Harbourfront. Friday began with Bombolesse, a Montreal ensemble of multiculturalists who played "Brazilianized" music. Before their electrified, horn-and-drum heavy set, a few members dropped by our tent and played us some samba on acoustic instruments.
BOMBOLESSE - Nessa Cidade
Closing out the night was the legendary and cool-as-fuck Brooklynite Joe Bataan, the original Afro-Latino-Filipino soulster with a heart of gold. In his fortieth year as a professional musician, Bataan has the energy of a man half his age and the spirit of a wise sage. I hope a lot of the kids checked this out, because the crate diggers already know Joe Bataan as a huge source for samples and breaks. The night before the broadcast, Bataan came on DJ Jason Palma's Higher Ground and was surprised to see Palma pull out an original copy of 1981's Joe Bataan II.
JOE BATAAN - Sad Girl
Saturday, however, took everything to new heights with the Jamaica to Toronto CD release party. The reunion concert of the founding fathers and mothers of the Toronto soul scene in the late 60s was surrounded by media attention, with the event accruing major press in local papers and the record acclaiming positive reviews from indie music outlets in the States and the UK.
Photo from the Toronto Star article.
Starting with a few instrumentals, the supergroup of older Jamaican legends and younger local jazz and funk players attracted even more listeners to the already packed Harbourfront main stage. The mix was thick and heavy from the get-go. Horns oozed like sauce and Loyd Delpratt's unimitable rotating Leslie organ speaker cabinet added the garnish. Opening with The Cougars' "Right On" and Lloyd Delpratt's "Together", the band was joined by a string of singers for the remainder of the night, beginning with Noel Ellis (son of the great Alton Ellis) who sang "Memories" and "Smokin' Marijuana". Jay Douglas and Eddie Spencer followed with a couple of numbers from the compilation like "I Wish it Would Rain", and was later joined by Bob and Wisdom, who proved that 60 year old men can dance as well as their 20 year old selves. "I Believe in Music", their highlight song, was perhaps the most powerful number of the night, which they touchingly sang into the same mic. The Mighty Pope, arguably the best singer in Canadian history, sped things up with some Hitch-Hikers tunes, and then slowed it back down again with a sick cover of "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay". The night ended with a brief but heavily reggaefied nod to Marley, and the capacity-plus crowd left with a satisfaction akin to eating a warm, home-cooked meal.
Although much was said about memories and simpler times, the concert itself avoided nostalgia and instead focused on the here and now. As our hosts discussed on air, nostalgia in its literal Greek translation means "the pain of returning home". I can assure you that this concert was not about returning, because this music was always here and has never left. The musicians who immigrated from Jamaica to our fair city in the 60s immediately launched a scene that still resonates today. Jo Jo Bennett and others, while well into their 60s and 70s, are still active in the music scene as performers, and the cast of younger musicians accompanied them onstage proved that this procession will continue into the future. Wayne McGhie and Jackie Mittoo left us years ago, but their influence was there and will be carried over by the young Jason Wilson, who played organ and served as the concert's musical director. If anything, this music was reborn last night, and it's been immortalized on this amazing compilation from Light in the Attic Records.
*Note: I am posting these tunes so that you will be enticed to go and buy them. There are a couple of downloads available on the above link, and you can stream samples of the rest of the album, but please, support Light in the Attic and Buy the disc. They put a lot of time and money into unearthing many of these lost and rare 45s and were generous enough to share them with us. Please reciprocate...the worst that can happen is you spend $20 for one of the best soul reissues around.
LLOYD DELPRATT - Together
RAM - Love Is the Answer
ESB PLAYLIST 7/14/06
PARA ONE - Dudun Dun (MSTRKRFT Remix)
MSTRKRFT - She's Good for Business
THE FUTUREHEADS - Skip to the End (Digitalism Remix)
THE DUKE SPIRIT - Fades the Sun
MATTHEW FRIEDBERGER - Ruth vs. Rachel
TUNDE ADEBIMPE - Skocks
TV ON THE RADIO - Blues from Down Here
TV ON THE RADIO - I Was a Lover
GOGOL BORDELLO - Dying After You
ELLIOTT BROOD - Second Son #2
BLOOD MERIDIAN - Soldiers of Christ
THE HYLOZOISTS - Warning Against Judging a Christian Brother
THE HIDDEN CAMERAS - She's Gone
THE MAKE-UP - Pow! To the People