Wednesday, March 30, 2005

People for a Rastafari Government in Jamaica

4 candidates for West Kingston poll
Colourful parades in peaceful nomination day
(from an article by BALFORD HENRY, Observer writer on
Thursday, March 24, 2005 followed by a message from Astor Black)

The four candidates who were nominated yesterday to contest the West Kingston by-election. From left: Michael Elliott, NDM; Joseph 'Bunny' Witter, PNP; Bruce Golding, JLP; and Ras Astor Black, Jamaica Alliance Movement . (Photos: Bryan Cummings)

MARCHING bands and colourful parades characterised yesterday's nomination day in West Kingston as four candidates entered the race to fill the parliamentary seat left vacant in January by former Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader Edward Seaga.

The four - newly-elected leader of the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party, Bruce Golding; Joseph "Bunny" Witter, a 43 year-old technician, for the People's National Party (PNP); Michael Elliott, a businessman who is running for an alliance comprising the National Democratic Movement (NDM) and the Republican Party; and Rastafarian Astor Black, president of the Jamaica Alliance Movement (JAM) - will do battle for the more than 17,000 electors on the list for the April 13 poll.

Greetings from Ras Astor Black

Please contribute to the Love’N Jamaica Campaign, send or deposit some funds in the Rastafari Affinity Account number 10134860 (MoBay Branch) at any Jamaica National in Jamaica. It will help us with our radio and print marketing and for more information call I man, Ras Astor Black, President of the Jamaica Alliance Movement at 876-421-4189.

Now that they are going, going and gone, the Jamaica Alliance Movement will alien with good people for a new way of life for Jamaicans at home and abroad, a Jamaica where all of us will be free and equal in dignity and rights and act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood.

A Jamaica where everyone will be entitled to all the rights and freedoms without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, Rastafari, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

All Jamaican will have the right to life, liberty and security of person and will not be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade will be prohibited in all their forms. No one will be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Everyone will get the right to recognition as a person before the law.

All Jamaican will be equal before the law and will be given without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. Jamaicans will receive equal protection against all discrimination. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Everyone will have full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Everyone charged with a penal offence will be given the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he or she has had all the guarantees necessary for his or her defense. No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, or to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Jamaicans will have the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment and without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

Jamaicans who works will receive a just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself or herself and his or her family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

Jamaicans will be given the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his or her interests and will have the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Standards of living will be adequate for the health and well-being of the Jamaican family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond control. Motherhood and childhood will be entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

All Jamaicans will have the right to education. Education will be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education will be made generally available and higher education will be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

Education will be directed to the full development of the Jamaican personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace. Parents will have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Everyone will have the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits, and the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he or she is the author.

The soon to be post-governments did not set concrete aim for overseas investment and attach more importance to the quality and practical effects rather than just its quantity.

Rastafari, The Hon. Bob Marley promote Jamaica love to a world audience and today we all can just see the result, but our Jamaica can not be a part of the booming tourism industry that they enjoy.

Jamaicans, if Western Kingston is to be the next tourist attraction, let us all do the right thing on Election Day; allow the Rastafari, Ras Astor Black, to colt the BIG game by voting Jamaica Alliance Movement. Retire the Ps into the history book of the next generation.

JAM will FREE-UP the Trench Town experience so it start flowing again, from Back-a-wall to the world, I, Ras Astor Black respectfully ask to be the next Member of Parliament for West Kingston which will give Rastafari a voice in their parliament to continue the good work of our brother Bob Marley.

To contribute to the Love’N Jamaica Campaign, please send or deposit some funds in the Rastafari Coop Affinity Account number 10134860 (MoBay Branch) at any Jamaica National in Jamaica.

For more information call Ras Astor Black, President of the Jamaica Alliance Movement at 876-421-4189

Friday, March 25, 2005

Things Are Looking Up For REGGAE Promoters Around The Country

Positive Vibration: Reggae Is Right At Home In The Region

March 25, 2005

By Tom Huntington Arts Correspondent

When reggae legend Frederick "Toots" Hibbert came to Vermont a couple of years ago to record a song with resident guitar star Trey Anastasio at the former Phish member's renowned recording studio in Westford, he felt right at home.

"It was nice, because the air was like up in the mountains in Jamaica," says Hibbert, a native son of the island country who gave reggae its name with his 1968 hit song, "Do the Reggay."

Whether it's the fresh mountain air, the laid-back vibe or the independent spirit, there's just something about reggae that has struck a chord with denizens of the Green Mountain State — a chord that has gotten considerably stronger since Bob Marley properly introduced the dance-inducing music to Vermont a quarter of a century ago when he played at Memorial Auditorium in Burlington.

Originally nurtured in the state by the now defunct Vermont Reggae Festival, and then by 1990s Burlington nightclub Club Toast and by Burlington-area music hall Higher Ground, reggae now seems to have its Green Mountain epicenter in Stowe – though Montpelier will likely be getting a taste of the action in the not-too-distant future.

Carlo Rovetto, 32, presented annual reggae shows on his own property in Plainfield "until they got too huge," he says. Last year, he and Patrick Brooks of Stowe, Rovetto's partner in 1 Lb. Productions, as they call themselves, decided to move the popular "house parties" to area venues, finding an especially appreciative audience at the Rusty Nail Bar & Grille in Stowe. The revamped nightspot has become an unofficial home for the concert series, though 1 Lb. recently presented shows at the Eclipse Theater in Waitsfield as well.

The first two 1 Lb. presentations – the second featured legendary reggae rhythm duo Sly & Robbie – sold out the sizable Rusty Nail in advance.

From there, "it just took off," says Rovetto.

Upcoming 1 Lb. shows at the Nail include Toots and the Maytals on Wednesday, and the solid double bill of golden-throated old-school soldiers Don Carlos (Black Uhuru co-founder) and Apple Gabriel (of Israel Vibration) on May 13.

The Toots and the Maytals show is a serious coup for the upstart presenters, as it comes a mere month after the soulful singer garnered a Grammy Award for best reggae album for his star-studded 2004 album, "True Love." Easily one of the year's best albums – Billboard magazine called it "a 55-minute party in a jewel case" – and a must-have for anyone who has even the slightest interest in reggae music – the disc finds Toots revisiting his impressive arsenal of classic songs and sounding better than ever, perhaps inspired by such special guests as Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Trey Anastasio, No Doubt and Ryan Adams.

"It's a really big show for us," says Rovetto. "We're excited to have it."

Rovetto, who owns the popular Plainfield pizzeria Positive Pie, says he also plans to present live music at a second Positive Pie location, Positive Pie-Squared, in downtown Montpelier, which he hopes to open "by June."

Rovetto describes the sizable, 2700-ft. space, which formerly housed the State Street Market, as a "restaurant and lounge" that will have "occasional entertainment" on weekends. The space will be equipped with a full stage and live sound system as well as an in-house sound system for DJs, he says.

Rovetto says that 1 Lb. is also hoping to present an out-door concert sometime this summer.

"We do have a plan to do something outdoors this summer," says Rovetto.

"Whether it works out or not is going to depend on a lot of factors, but we're hoping that we can make it happen."

Upcoming reggae shows
# Wednesday: Toots and the Maytals with Fear Nuttin' – Rusty Nail, 10 p.m., $25.
# Sunday: Jimmy Cliff with Matisyahu the Hassidic Reggae Superstar – Higher Ground, 9 p.m. $20 advance/$23 day of show (all ages).
# Saturday, April 2: Mikey Dread with Trumystic – Rusty Nail.
# Saturday, April 16: Dub Is a Weapon – Rusty Nail.
# Friday, May 13: Stowe – Don Carlos, Apple Gabriel and Groundation – Rusty Nail.
# Saturday, May 28: Culture – Rusty Nail.

The Rusty Nail is located at 1190 Mountain Road in Stowe (all shows are 21+); for information, call 253-6245 or go online to: Higher Ground is located at 1214 Williston Road in S. Burlington; for information, call 654-8888 or go online to: For information about 1 Lb. Productions, go online to:

Link to original article in the Barre Montpelier TIMES ARGUS

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Wailers: LIve and Direct

by Scott Kara

The man with the soothing Jamaican accent won’t take full responsibility for the most important reggae album made, but Wailers’ bass player Aston "Family Man" Barrett accepts a fair chunk of the glory for 1974’s Natty Dread by Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Okay, to be fair, let’s rephrase that to say, arguably, Natty Dread is the most important reggae album made.

Whether he is getting royalties from the album is another story - more on Barrett’s bitter dispute with Marley’s wife Rita and family later - but he’ll tell you he is hugely responsible for the album that took reggae to the mainstream, thanks to songs such as Lively Up Yourself, No Woman, No Cry, and the Barrett-penned, Rebel Music (3 o’clock Road Block).

"From 1974, Bob Marley, myself and my brother [Carlton "Carlie" Barrett, the drummer] became partners and that’s where we set the real international standard for reggae music worldwide. Bob has gone to rest now but I am here, I am the colonel, I am the lieutenant," he says, laughing.

Barrett has taken over the Wailers’ name and still tours the world playing gigs. The band, also featuring Wailers’ guitarist Junior Marvin, who played on Exodus (1977), Kaya (1978) and Uprising (1980), play the St James tomorrow night.

The Wailers formed in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1963 and were originally a vocal group comprising Bob Marley, Peter McIntosh (later Peter Tosh), Bunny Livingston (later Bunny Wailer), Junior Braithwaite, Beverly Kelso, and Cherry Smith.

By 1966, Braithwaite, Kelso and Smith had left the group. By the late 60s the remaining trio were playing instruments and had hooked up with the Barrett brothers.

Marley first noticed the Barretts after hearing their band the Hippy Boys and through their work with Lee Scratch Perry and the Upsetters.

"That was what first brought us together. He sent for that bass player, the one they call Family Man. When he discovered me. He was surprised, he couldn’t believe Family Man was a youth, one year younger than them.

"When I play bass I pretend I am singing baritone. That’s why I create that melody climb, to make the music swing and sway, so the singer can flow on top of that."

The Wailers signed to Island Records in the early 70s and released Catch A Fire in 1973 and Burnin’ later that year.

"We came together in the late 60s as singers and players of instruments, and we were able to spread the message to all corners of the Earth," says Barrett.

But when composer/singer/percussionist Bunny Livingston and guitarist Peter Tosh left the band around 1973, it was uncertain whether the Wailers would continue.

"Bob said, ‘What are we going to do, there’s only three of us?’ I said, ‘The three of us can do it man, it’s the power of the trinity’.

"I rearranged our music room and turned it into a demo studio so we could record our new songs and get them ready for the studio, and we did and came [up] with that album called, Natty Dread," he says, pronouncing the name of the album with grinning satisfaction.

Barrett is still involved in a long and bitter dispute with the Marley family - fronted by Rita and Marley’s oldest child Cedella - over publishing royalties and other matters.

Touting himself as the "mastermind of the Bob Marley and the Wailers’ sound", Barrett says if it wasn’t for him the Marley family would still be living in the ghetto of Trenchtown in Jamaica.

"I am the one who made the Marley family so big and happy now. I am the one who created the music, arranged it, the bass player, the band leader.

"I play many other instruments on each album. And, of course, I am the sound engineer. I am the mastermind of the sound."

He and Marley became partners from 1974 onwards but "Rita Marley and Island [Records] pretend it never existed".

Yes, Barrett may come across as a miffed bandmate wanting the recognition and payment he deserves, especially since many of the former Wailers are now dead.

Marley died on May 11, 1981, of cancer, while Tosh and Carlton Barrett were murdered in separate incidents in 1987.

But for Barrett, who divides his time between Kingston, South Florida and Washington DC, the main focus is the music, not the money.

That’s not to say he doesn’t want his share. "Righteousness must exalt over weakness. They have the name Marley but none of them think like Bob."

According to Barrett, the Wailers’ show today is just like the old days. "We keep things the original way, the authentic style of whatever you hear on the recording.

"That’s what we give you, live and direct. And although we don’t have Bob Marley, Bob Nesta Marley with us, we’ve got [singer] Gary "Nesta" Pine.

"When he’s performing if you close your eyes, man, you think Bob Marley is on stage. The music is right and the lyrical message is still the same."


Monday, March 14, 2005


With weather about as nice can be found anywhere, The 3rd Annual Langerado Music Festival arrived at Markam Park in Sunrise, Florida. It was a two day “Jam Band” festival. This might not normally have drawn our attention but recent Reggae Grammy Winner and long time star of the Jamaican Music Scene, Toots and The Maytals were a featured act Saturday afternoon. All together, the two days were filled with over two dozen bands, many of which we had never heard or even heard of.

Arriving, we found a parking lot with license plates from all over the north east. One of our crew claimed we had actually gone through some kind of time portal to a Woodstock-era 1968 going by how a large contingent of the crowd was dressed along with the spliffs and good cheer we encountered. The crowd mood and great weather helped but it was obvious that everything was very well organized by the festival promoters. It was very much a “One Love” vibe going on from the moment we entered the Park’s gates. It is a big park and a great setting for a concert festival. Three stages would keep the music going strong from the 11:30 AM start to the 9 PM finish each day and we found everything running pretty much right on schedule throughout. Again, a “Big-Up” to the promoters. We missed some of the early acts on Saturday – we really came to see Toots and The Maytals who pumped out a tight hour of Reggae/Ska Riddums from 3:30 to 4:30. As the longest established band on the bill, Toots said from the stage, ''Today I'm a teacher.'' And he delivered a great primer on the Roots Rock Reggae Music. A little research indicates a lot of Jam Band fans are Reggae Music fans too. Bob Marley images could be seen more than any other on every type of clothing and bag you could think of. Music vendors all carried big inventories of Reggae CDs and DVDs. And while there were not many Rasta’s in attendance, there were plenty of dreadlocks flowing. Toots delighted the crowd and certainly made several thousand people into bigger Reggae fans with his set.

Let’s talk about some of the other bands we got to hear. The stand-outs seemed to be on Sunday, spectacular day number 2. We were very glad we got there early enough to hear The Wrinkle Neck Mules, a five piece band out of Richmond, Virginia, who play a blend of country music that tips towards rock as well as traditional forms to put together a great opening set for the day. We’re hoping to get a recording of their set – very fortunate for lovers of Jam band music, elaborate personal recording set-ups are part of the scene. Next we heard California’s Donavon Frankenreiter who’s three piece band had the crowd singing along to a rockin’ set – we’ll take a recording of that one too. So as not to get repetitive, even though there were only occasional excursions into a Reggae beat, the tunes were dynamic and energized all day. You gotta check out the highly energized funk machine of Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe – another great set. As the day worked toward a close, improvisational trio Medeski Martin & Wood churned out a high octane blend of sound that led into the second performance by String Cheese Incident. Colorado’s String Cheese Incident headlined both days with the final sets from the main stage. In the tradition of the granddaddy of Jam Bands, The Grateful Dead, the two shows were very different from each other but both were filled with a broad mix of extended riddums and styles from Bluegrass to otherworldly improvisational Rock to nicely laid down Reggae vibes. We didn’t know many of these bands but all we can say is IRIE!

The thing that stands out from all of these performances is the joyous spirit infused in everything from Toots to String Cheese. The joy filled the crowd, no doubt helped by the clouds of herb and incense floating on the breeze throughout the two days. Along with the friendly crowd and great music, you could find all kinds of crafts and arts, all kinds of food and juices plus a Rain Forrest “misting” tent for those who needed to cool off and activities for kids. Festival organizers had people constantly picking up trash and even the portable toilets were kept in decent shape. This team has their act together. Who knows who will be on the bill next year – hopefully a Reggae act (Lucky Dube, Steel Pulse or a Sly & Robbie Dub set would make a good fit), but, if you like more than just Reggae and you want to sample the work of some of the best musicians around, put Langerado on your calendar for next March – – see ya there!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A Bob Marley Day Where Raunchy Overwhelms Righteousness

Saturday, February 26, 2005, was the 12th Annual Bob Marley Day Festival in Miami. I have been to several of the shows over the years and it has always been a wonderful day. This year a $28.50 ticket and four cans of food products got you admission to the 12 hour event. Part of the proceeds from ticket sales and the contributions of canned food products are donated each year to help feed people in need in the Miami area. The show has usually been scheduled closer to Bob’s February 6th Birthday. This year, Bob’s talented children, who always headline the show, were in Ethiopia for a special celebration marking what would have been Bob’s 60th Birthday so the show was pushed back in the month.

When I saw the initial flyer for the show, I was excited to see most of the Marley brothers in the line-up. Elephant Man and Beenie Man were on the list too. What seemed really missing though was, other than the Marley Brothers, there didn’t seem to be much Roots “One Drop” Beat Reggae which of course is what Bob’s music is all about. More than that, it is Music with Spirit and a Conscious message. What we got on this day in the park was hours of non-conscious, slang and foul language gangster rap booty calls from a bunch of performers about as far from the Spirit of Bob Marley as you could get. Not saying there was no talent on the stage, just that it was the wrong time and place for it. Past years have seen great performances by many of the top name in Reggae – not this year. Even if none of the big name talent was available, there are a bunch of local Reggae bands that would have loved a chance to get up on the stage at Bayfront. What we got was NO REGGAE until nearly 10PM and up till then we got a few thousand four letter words, hardcore, often X-Rated hip-hop raps. I think Bob was probably turning over in his grave with the message delivered by the lyrics delivered from the stage most of the day. Let’s hope next year we can have positive Reggae Vibes fill the Bob Marley Day in Miami.