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

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