Thursday, July 29, 2004

Vital REGGAE Edition from RELIX

RELIX REGGAE Issue August 2004Many of you may not be familiar with RELIX Magazine. It got started in the early 70’s with a focus on The Grateful Dead and other bands like New Riders of the Purple Sage and Quick Silver Messenger Service. It was an underground magazine of sorts, chronicling the exploits of the bands and their fans. A whole community grew around this music and RELIX was a primary source of this community’s news. The whole Grateful Dead tape trading network that archived virtually every concert the band performed was pretty much a RELIX creation. As Reggae began to emerge onto the world scene, the soothing, vibrant sounds of Roots Reggae with clouds of Jah Righteous Herb billowing around turntables as discs spun these new riddums, had an immediate appeal for the RELIX audience. The 80’s saw RELIX try to be more of everything to everybody, even having a brief fling with Heavy Metal but while most of the core fans hung in there and a few new ones may have been attracted to the magazine, the base was with the complex riddums of the Dead-style jam bands. From early on in the 70's, RELIX was one of the first magazines to bring word of Reggae Music to the primarily white audience of The Dead and other bands that expanded the genre like Phish. Thanks in no small degree to RELIX, Reggae Music has gotten legions of new fans from this audience and it is not unusual for a Reggae beat to be mixed into the sounds of the genres main artists. The influence has come full circle with releases like the two excellent Reggae Celebrates The Grateful Dead discs and the upcoming Reggae tribute to Bob Dylan “Is It Rolling Bob?”.

It’s a VITAL Reggae issue of RELIX – it hits news stands on August 3, so don’t miss it! If you can’t find it, go to . Here are some highlights of what you’ll find in the issue:

The August reggae issue is about to hit the newsstands on the 3rd. There is an article by Stephen Davis about Bob Marley that has never been published in America, or in English. It is about Bob and his relationship to women throughout his life. The seven page feature offers an insightful look into the reggae legend from a different angle.

There is also a three page article that demonstrates the lasting effects Bob Marley has had on the world. His music has inspired the plight of Australia’s original inhabitants against their oppressive Government; France’s booming reggae industry, and the continual library of music that is being produced by his children.
There is a lot more inside the issue that relates to the reggae world. Here is a link for you to check out the full interview with Rita Marley online,

RELIX caught up with legend Frederick "Toots" Hibbert-the man whose song "Do the Reggay" gave the genre its name-to get the full story on his latest, star-studded retrospective effort, True Love

RELIX most comprehensive reggae coverage ever, this guide packs as much info as a typical Jamaican joint does weed. Reggae historian Roger Steffens waxes about Marley’s legacy (p. 58) while longtime contributor John Adamian sounds off about dub’s resounding influence and history (p. 62). Elsewhere, Damon C. Williams compares the young lions of today’s roots reggae movement while reggae authority and radioman Postman Roger Gillies delivers two Top 25 lists which we guarantee you’ve never read before.

There’s more plus lot’s of great photos… BIG UP to RELIX for the Vital REGGAE issue!

Friday, July 23, 2004

Burning Spear keeps the Reggae Fire Burning

Winston Rodney aka Burning Spear is on the road again this summer. If real Roots Reggae brightens your Soul, don't miss a chance to catch Spear LIVE! If you can't be there, try

Here's an article from the Tallahassee Democrat @ TALLAHASSEE.COM

The trademark dreadlocks may flow from a wiry nimbus of gray hair. And the bristling beard may sport more salt than pepper.

But Burning Spear's energy is as vigorous and potent as it was when he was a youth looking to put his musical stamp on Jamaica's nascent reggae scene. His voice is as rich, resonant and compelling as it was back then. And Spear continues to use it to express the socially conscious values rooted in the teachings of black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey.

The 59-year-old Spear - born Winston Rodney in the parish of St. Ann's Bay, the same rural region that Garvey and the late Bob Marley called home - has kept the roots-reggae blaze crackling for 35 years. He's celebrating with characteristic verve by bringing his message-laden music to the masses on a summer tour that includes stops at both festivals and clubs. Spear's path wends through Tallahassee this week for a show with his nine-piece Burning Band.

"When I-man look back from where I'm coming from and where I am today, I think I was a singer who got started with a lot of patience," Spear said in a phone interview. "There were lots of times when I could have lost my patience and walked away (from the business). But I had focus and tried to discipline myself.

"You got to try to be in control and keep your mind in line. Don't get carried away and don't get stressed out. Patience is something you work with and it work with you. It doesn't come overnight."

That spirit of forbearance has helped Spear build one of the most prolific and respected careers in reggae. His first recordings in 1969 with fabled producer Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd at Kingston's Studio One - "Burning Spear" and "Rocking Time" - are heralded today as groundbreaking. When they were released in the late '60s and early '70s, they were golden pebbles dropped in an already roiling reggae pool.

"It was different recording back then (at Studio One)," Spear said. "There wasn't a lot of modern equipment. Everything was done live in one take. You had to give it your best one shot. It was fun.

"That was good for learning (how to work in the studio). In this time today, there are more modern machines, but I still take the same approach. I don't program or recycle the music. I try to be creative."

Spear cemented his place in the reggae pantheon with a trio of remarkable records made with producer Lawrence "Jack Ruby" Lindo for Island Records - "Marcus Garvey," its dub-version twin "Garvey's Ghost" and "Man in the Hills." A ferocious live album recorded in England and featuring Aswad as his backing band came next, followed by an appearance in the reggae film "Rockers" (1978) performing a standout a-capella rendition of "Jah No Dead."

'Clean Roots and Culture'
Spear left Island Records and skipped from label to label to make one acclaimed album after another. Unlike other reggae artists who changed their music to suit the whims of technology-obsessed producers with an eye on the profit margin, Spear's melodic, rhythmic and uplifting sound has remained the same.

"I have no choice about that," he said. "There's not a second sound like that sound. It's the foundation of the reggae sound .... There are no changes and no turning away from it."

New trends in reggae - hip-hop and electronic elements, more aggressive lyrics and artists whose focus is more on their bank balances than their message - have made much contemporary reggae sound synthetic and removed from its rootsy origins, Spear said.

"Young people start to learn a different way of dealing with the music," he said. It's like a fast-food thing - who can sell the most fast food and which company has the biggest reputation. People don't take time to do the right thing.

"In the '70s, companies and producers and promoters cared about the artists and the music. You don't have that no more. It's all based on the money.

"But that's not going to interfere with the original sound, with clean roots and culture. We need music all the people can listen to and get some understanding about what it's saying. We need more people involved in that kind of reggae music."

Spear is doing his part to see that happens. In 2002, he and wife and business partner Sonia Rodney launched Burning Spear Records, the first label owned by a reggae artist since Marley's famous Tuff Gong Records. The label has two releases to its credit - "Live at Montreaux Jazz Festival 2001" and the aptly named and excellent "Free Man." After he wraps the current tour, Spear goes into the studio to start recording a new disc for release in 2005.

"Free Man" features Spear in fine vintage-reggae fettle, singing about such timeless topics as trust, pride, acceptance and Garvey's principles of self-determination and self-reliance.

"Now is the time when the people need teachers like (Garvey)," Spear said. "People need to know more about how to go about dealing with things, how to speak up for themselves.

"If the teachings of Marcus Garvey and other great men like Martin Luther King Jr. are publicly told, people won't be so indifferent."

"I wish that people can be cheerful to each other and exercise a little more love and unity, regardless of race or belief," Spear said. "I believe the only medication to solve the problems in this time is for everyone to come in peace.

"If we talk about love and unity and justice and we're not living it, it's not going to happen."

Spear hopes to continue to continue his musical mission for many years to come.

"What I looking for in the future is to make sure I always be in the best of health and live as long as I can," he said. "I just want to enjoy myself and be happy. What more could anybody want for the future?"

Listen to House of Reggae from Burning Spear
Big UP to the Tallahassee Democrat @ TALLAHASSEE.COM and writer Kati Schardl for this great article. Stay in touch with all the BIG TINGS A GWON at Ras John's the web's #1 Reggae site!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Reggae On The River Festival Releases DVD/CD Anniversary Package

Includes Live Performances From Ben Harper, Toots & The Maytals, Israel Vibration, Michael Franti and Spearhead, and Julian, Damian and Stephen Marley as well as many others

Reggae On The River is Internationally acclaimed as three days of "the best Reggae and World music experience to be found" and for the first time is celebrating its history and the music with the release of a 2-DVD set as well as a companion CD featuring live performances from many of the artists that performed at the 2003 event. The DVD package also includes a documentary on the festival with interviews with the organizers and some of the artists as well as an archival photo gallery culled from shows over the past two decades. The 2-DVD set and the companion CD are sold separately, both include powerful songs from acts such as Toots and the Maytals, Third World, Ben Harper, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Israel Vibration and Bob Marley heirs Julian, Damian and Stephen to name a few. Both the DVD and the CD will be released on July 27th, through Sanctuary / RAS.

Set on the banks of Northern California¹s picturesque Eel River, the festival first began in 1984 as an ambitious fundraiser to help rebuild the local Mateel Community Center, which had been destroyed by an arsonist. It has since evolved into a three-day event that over the years has drawn more than 280,000 fans thus far, while continuing to benefit the center. Each summer dozens of world-class performers, representing all genres of reggae and world music trek to the small town 200 miles north of San Francisco to perform.

Performances on the DVD and CD were recorded live during last year¹s 20th Anniversary show, and include classics such as Toots and the Maytals' "54-46; That¹s My Number," Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths' poignant version of "Redemption Song", and Julian Marley's haunting rendition of his father's "Exodus" (available only on the DVD). Reflecting the festival¹s musical diversity, the discs also feature experimentalist David Lindley (with his band El Rayo-X), the unassuming Ben Harper, and Zimbabwe¹s Oliver Mtukudzi.

In addition to the concert DVD, a second DVD in the set takes a deeper look into the festival itself; it¹s humble beginnings, and the cooperative tradition that it has grown into. Set against the amazing backdrop of the river shores in the midst of an ancient redwood forest, Reggae On The River has become known as the "preeminent reggae festival in the world."



1. Third World - "96 Degrees In The Shade"
2. Culture - "International Herb"
3. Toots & The Maytals ­ "54-46 Was My Number"
4. Michael Franti & Spearhead ­ "We Don¹t Stop"
5. Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley ­ "Mr. Marley"
6. Machael Montano ­ "All Pretty Girls/Animal Farm"
7. Oliver Mtukudzi ­ "Hear Me Lord"
8. Israel Vibration ­ "Vultures"
9. David Lindley & El Rayo-X ­ "High Rollers"
10. Anthony B ­ "Raid The Barn"
11. Israel Vibration ­ "Same Song"
12. Beres Hammond ­ "She Loves Me Now/Step Aside"
13. Judy Mowatt & Marcia Griffiths ­ "Redemption Song"
14. Anthony B ­ "Good Life"
15. Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals ­ "With My Own Two Hands"
16. Stephen & Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley ­ "It Was Written (Book of Life)"

Julian Marley ­ "Exodus"


An in-depth documentary about the Reggae On The River experience, featuring interviews with the artists and organizers who have made this the premiere reggae event of the past 20 years.
Click HERE to get the DVD -->



1. Anthony B ­ "Raid the Barn"
2. Beres Hammond ­ "She Loves Me/Step Aside"
3. Michael Franti & Spearhead ­ "We Don¹t Stop"
4. Culture ­ "International Herb"
5. Third World - "96 Degrees In The Shade"
6. Oliver Mtukudzi ­ "Hear Me Lord"
7. Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals ­ "With My Own Two Hands"
8. Judy Mowatt & Marcia Griffiths ­ "Redemption Song"
9. Israel Vibration ­ "Same Song"
10. Stephen & Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley ­ "It Was Written (Book of Life)"
11. Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley ­ "Mr. Marley"
12. Toots & The Maytals ­ "54-46 Was My Number"
13. David Lindley & El Rayo-X ­ "Quarter of A Man"

To get the CD version... check this link!

Monday, July 19, 2004

Unique and Other-Worldly Reggae World Music Mix

BamJimba - I Love (a worthy addition to your music collection)

On first listen, we were not sure what to make of this CD but it really grows in appeal and power with each listen like lots of good Dub discs. It's an instrumental, DUB oriented mix of tracks that are unique and inventive. There is definitely some application for the Club Scene in these tracks as well. Plus, it is helping raise money for a good cause. Get it and give it a few spins - it's a jam in the Name of The Lord so you will find it nourishing. - Ras John.

BamJimba is "a one-man band comprising about twenty musicians and one brilliant producer / engineer!", a description that might cause some confusion as this seemingly isn't very logical. BamJimba actually is a one-shot project, organized specifically to produce an album titled "I Love", which is a tribute to the late reggae promoter Papa Wade McKinney. All the musicians involved have given their time and talent for free, so that all proceeds can go to the Sickle Cell Society.

Papa Wade was a true rastaman, full of faith and courage. He was a writer, broadcaster, musician, and relentless reggae promoter. From the Carribean he settled in New Providence, Bahamas. Latterly he organised the Z.N.S. Entertainment Jam, a radio programme and festival of music. He died from Sickle Cell Disorder complications in November 1999.

What's S.C.D.?Sickle Cell Disorders are a group of genetic diseases that affect the red blood cells of people with the condition. They can cause bouts of extreme pain and can cause permanent damage to many different organs.

The Sickle Cell Society was first set up as a registered charity in 1979. It was formed by a group of patients, parents and health professionals who were all concerned about the lack of understanding and the inadequacy of treatment for sufferers of sickle cell disorders in the UK. Their vision is to be the most successful sickle cell organisation in the UK with a wide network of well-informed, committed and active supporters working at local, national and international levels. Then they will be better able to empower and assist people with sickle cell disorders to achieve their full economic and social potential.

More information about the Sickle Cell Society can be found on their website : Sickle Cell Society

To ORDER the CD, go to

Visit Ras John's

Photo & Text courtesy of Bamjimba & Sickle Cell Society.

Reggae SumFest Rocks MoBay Again This Week


Montego Bay, Jamaica:— Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest, world’s premier reggae festival, will be held at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex in Montego Bay Jamaica, July 18-24. Montego Bay, the island’s second city, has been the home of the famed Reggae Sunsplash and is now the permanent home of the Reggae Sumfest festival.

Although patrons will be dancing under the stars of the friendly city at night, they can also partake of what this wonderful city has to offer during the day. Montego Bay has been named as one of the top tourist locations in Jamaica, boasting white sand beaches, crystal blue waters and a hip strip that promises more enjoyment than one can handle.

The famed Doctor’s Cave Bathing Club is located in the middle of the Hip Strip and visitors are encouraged to relax, unwind and sunbathe in the therapeutic waters or take a chance on the wild side with the wide variety of watersports that are offered. For those who want to visit Mobay’s colourful underwater world, there are several companies that offer this service such as Cool Aqua Divers. Located at the Rose Hall Beach, they offer scuba diving and snorkeling.

Montego Bay is also a very historical town; the Rose Hall Great House is one of Jamaica’s premier historical attractions. This restored great house takes you back in time to the English Planter days, the ghost of the former mistress Annie Palmer is still said to roam the halls. For the ultimate music lover, there is the Bob Marley Experience located at the Half Moon Village, which features a theatre with a special multi media presentation about the reggae superstar.

For those who want a true taste of Montego Bay, visit the city’s top rated restaurants. Pier 1 On The Waterfront is a must for seafood lovers, overlooking Montego Bay’s harbour, visitors will love the ambience this restaurant offers. Authentic Jamaican food is the order of the day at the Native restaurant where visitors can sample the famed rice and peas and jerk chicken. Also located on the hip strip is the Pelican Restaurant, which specializes in international and Jamaica cuisine.

After a hard night on the town, visitors can relax at the all-inclusive Holiday Inn Resort or at the ultra exclusive Half Moon Hotel. Both resorts boast prime beaches and wonderful cuisine. Overall Montego Bay is the optimal location for the young and the young at heart, with activities ranging from horseback riding to scuba diving, one will never lack having fun.

Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest is offering special travel packages which include hotel accommodation and round trip airport and hotel transfers. For more information on the friendly city, check out the website
Check out Ras John's Report on SumFest '95 in the Events Section at Ras John's

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Ernest "Drummie Zeb" Williams Playing With The Band

Special Feature Report for from Marc Shapiro

It’s a reggae dream-come-true. After paying dues to the scene for over a decade, the opportunity came to play for the definitive reggae band, the band that helped put Bob Marley on the map: The Legendary Wailers.

Ernest “Drummie Zeb” Williams is now living out this dream by drumming for The Wailers. “All of the songs are a dream to play. They’re all jewels, special in their own way,” said Zeb. “The whole library is dreamy.” Zeb didn’t just wake up one day and find himself a member of The Wailers. He’s been playing drums for 30 years and has been playing in reggae bands for 20 years, joining the scene when he was 19 years old. Zeb has played with Israel Vibration, Eek A Mouse, Frankie Paul, Louie Rankin, Gregory Issacs and The Razor Posse. The event that really set things up for Zeb to join The Wailers came when he was playing with Awareness Art Ensemble on the same bill as The Wailers. He sat in on sound check with them, playing alongside Aston “Family Man” Barrett, the original bassist of The Wailers who produced, arranged and wrote much of the band’s legendary catalog.

Zeb ended up playing on the same bill as The Wailers two or three times a year, maintaining his relationship with Family Man. Six years ago, an Awareness Art Ensemble manager who had also worked with The Wailers heard that The Wailers needed a drummer. Shortly after that, Zeb found himself playing in the most internationally renowned reggae band.

“I started listening to Marley in the 70s and I knew that was the next big thing,” recalled Zeb of his first impression of Bob Marley and The Wailers. Zeb unfortunately never got to see the legend himself in concert. But now he gets to perform the music of that legend. “I breathe with 11 members on stage,” said Zeb about being the drummer. “Once I have everyone’s heart with mine, I breathe with 1000 people,” he said about connecting with the audience.

The Wailers play songs to cater to the mood of the crowd, often making up set lists on the spot. “Everybody takes a ride, including us,” he said.
It is very important not to water down the music because, according to Zeb, reggae is a very direct, positive music. “You can use it to be vulgar or talk funky, but you can really use it to get a message across,” said Zeb about the power of reggae music.

His concept of reggae is embodied by his favorite Bob Marley and The Wailers song “War.” The song’s lyrics are directly taken from a speech given to United Nations by Haile Selassie about human rights. “If you can’t humble yourself and deal with these words something is wrong,” said Zeb. Much like those lyrics, he places a lot of importance on people uniting together. “If people are so into loving God, why can’t they embrace each other?” asked Zeb. “I can reason with everyone 360. If we can reason and reach the heights then we can all get along.” Despite this lack of man-to-man understanding Zeb discusses, he has a lot of faith in what he calls the “One Love Generation,” the young adults of today. He feels that the world is going to change once this unified generation gets into power politically. “Everyone can go to the same jam. There’s some kind of similar energy, it’s not as separated as it was 20 years ago,” said Zeb.

Twenty years ago is not only when Zeb entered the reggae scene, it was also when he took up Rastafarianism. For Zeb, Rastafarianism is a way of life, not a man-made religion. “It teaches you some real high level thinking,” said Zeb. “It’s a window of information.” Zeb added that Rastafarian is about controlling your body rather than your body controlling you. He does martial arts to keep his body in tune. He also places importance on “smoking the herb” in moderation, maybe even taking month-long breaks if needed, to stay in control of your body.

“It’s about praising God. The Rastaman is giving thanks, just like communion in church,” said Zeb about “smoking the herb.” He does caution, however, that Babylon is all around. “It’s the system that was set up to oppress,” said Zeb. “The reggae lovers need to be safe because Babylon is everywhere.” While Zeb and The Wailers embody the ethos of Rastafarians everyday, they are also touring tirelessly and doing what they can to continue to spread reggae music. A new studio album is currently in the works for The Wailers. The Razor Posse, another band that Zeb plays drums for, will be releasing a new album on Ras Records due out in June. The first single, “Serve Somebody,” will be on a Bob Dylan reggae tribute album due out this summer.

Marc Shapiro

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Jamaican Sunrise Festival in France - August 3-6, 2004

I allow myself to transmit some news of the Jamaican Sunrise Festival, you will find attached a press release in english.

This is one of the biggest openair reggae festival held in france, for about the last three years this has been the event of the summer and it's getting bigger & growing towards an hights whereas europeen reggae fans are coming in thousands from all parts of europe. Please don't miss this one & don't forget to tell your friends around the world that Jamaican Sunrise is alive & kicking
real hard this summer.

We thank you for your kind attention.

To check out all the info on the show select this link:

From: Marie-Eve Beerens et Virginie Deniel of Kaya Production

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Ras John's Blog Begins

Greetings to I and I and may Jah Blessings fill your life! Here at Ras John's BLOG we will share ideas that will hopefully provide Blessings for your Life. We'll also update you on REGGAE News and Events. To start, here are some words to Bless eash of your days.

A Daily Affirmation for your Path of Power

I am a warrior of Spirit.
I exist in a world of sacred balance.
I balance with one foot in the physical world
of material substance,
and one foot in the dimensions of spirit and sacred life.
My course is set by my ally - the winds of time.
Mother Earth gives me life force -
the life blood of my sacred body.

The plants give me nourishment and healing
as I ride the windhorse of my intent -
my sacred warrior's transport of buoyant joy -
into a new and unknown world of harmony.
I am truly a new warrior,
a spirit being of light.

My weapons are the shields of awareness,
the symbols of ancient truth.
Like the angels that surround me,
few see me for who I really am.
People learn from me through example,
because of the integrity of my own life and spirit.

I move into the world with confidence and wisdom.
I am always open and learning tools of knowledge,
and I share these tools with my sisters and brothers.
I am a warrior of the light,
and I live the integrity of that with pure goodness -
the embodiment of the peaceful soul.
I walk with confidence
the path of heart and personal power.

One Love, Ras John