Saturday, August 28, 2010

Reggae World International, a ning international web-based community, now accessible through URL

Reggae World International (RWI) is an international community of Reggae Music artists, fans and music industry professionals with members from over 40 different countries.  Founder, Rasjohnmon, stated “a big obstacle for us was the long URL address – – our new community entrance at really simplifies things for members and visitors.”  This change is of great importance in the marketing of the community.

Ning is an online platform for people to create their own social networks, launched in October 2005.   Ning was co-founded by Marc Andreessen and Gina Bianchini. Ning is Andreessen's third company (after Netscape and Opsware). The word "Ning" is Chinese for "peace" (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: níng), as explained by Gina Bianchini on the company blog.  “The RWI ning community is “livicated” to spreading a positive message of peace and unity among all people, a nurturing Spirit for the planet and all its creatures.  RWI is an international community of peaceful warriors linked by a passion for life, love and REGGAE Music!” explained Rasjohnmon when asked about the objectives of the community.

The RWI website is free for members.  Each member is provided with easy to use tools to create their own custom web page within the community.  The options available are considerably greater than other social networks.  Members can publish videos, graphics, event listings, blog postings and their own advertising and interactive apps.  Options exist for each member to create their own merchandise store, games and even have their own internet radio program.  One of the founding members John Brodie commented, “The ning platform is definitely the most dynamic social networking option where all members have the opportunity to be creators of a very interactive and powerful web experience.”

John Brodie produced a short video to promote the community and their “long” URL address prior to the new option of going to  The video can be accessed on YouTube at .  The RWI site is in its early growth stage and will be expanding rapidly as new members bring access to travel, specialty foods, new music releases from around the world, support for new and unsigned artists and a wealth of music industry contacts and expertise.   For more information, visit the site at or email

Friday, August 27, 2010

California: Latino Voters League, Black Police Officers Endorse Marijuana Depenalization Initiative

Sacramento, CA: Representatives from the Latino Voters League (LVL) and the National Black Police Association have offered formal endorsements of Proposition 19, The Regulate, Control & Tax Cannabis Initiative of 2010. If passed, the measure would legalize the private adult possession and cultivation of marijuana, and allow local government the option to regulate the plant's commercial production and sale.
"The so called 'war on drugs' has been a gigantic failure, and approving Proposition 19 in November in California will hasten its demise," Antonio Gonzalez, coordinator of the Latino Voters League (LVL), announced at an August 13 press conference. "[A]pproving Proposition 19 will strike a blow to violent gangs and Mexican cartels that prey on our communities by removing their profit incentive. Parents worried about drug use today among their teenage children should support Proposition 19 because it will reduce the availability of cannabis among underage persons by controlling it and regulating it in the same way alcohol is controlled."
The LVL is a "nonpartisan organization dedicated to mobilizing Latino voters around progressive issues."
Last week, at its national conference in Sacramento, The National Black Police Association also endorsed the measure. The National Black Police Association has some 15,000 members nationwide. "[Passage of Prop. 19] means that we will be locking up less African American men and women and children who are using drugs," the group's Executive Director Ron Hampton said. "[Under the present policy,] blacks go to jail more than whites for doing the same thing."
According to a report published in July, African Americans are arrested for marijuana possession offenses in California's 25 largest counties at more than twice the rate of Caucasians.
The California state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had previously expressed its "unconditional support" for Prop. 19.
California voters will decide on the measure this November. According to the most recently released statewide poll on the measure, 50 percent of Californians support Prop. 19 while 40 percent oppose it.
For more information, please visit:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bob Marley and the Wailers LIVE!

A memoir from JB - webmaster of and

My first experience of Bob Marley and The Wailers was in 1973. I was in an apartment in New York City and I remember I was sitting in the living room on the floor and talking with friends sitting on the couch across a coffee table in front of me. It was then that I heard a beat and a voice from the turntable playing music in the next room. I was distracted from the conversation and got up from the floor and made my way to the turntable. The party disappeared into the background and I had to know more about this music that called out with an intensity I had not heard before. The spinning label said “Catch A Fire” and the band was Bob Marley and The Wailers. A friend had seen the band playing a double bill with Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band at Max's Kansas City a few weeks earlier in July. He had told me both bands were going to be big but he had no idea what he had witnessed.

The next day, I went out and bought "Catch A Fire" and "Burnin'" and listened to nothing else for several days. 60's and 70's rock had owned my turntable before - much of it was music with a message. Marley took this to a new level of passion with a riddum that could not be resisted. The songs presented stories of persecution but always filled with hope. Many of the songs were filled with a Spiritual energy that made them feel like hymns from the inner city. They were songs from the Concrete Jungle telling a story that would inspire not only Bob's friends and neighbors in Kingston, Jamaica but people of all walks of life, races, nationalities and levels on the economic ladder. Bob Marley's lyrics are enlivened by compassion and a determination to refuse to settle for a less than satisfactory status quo. Get up stand up, stand up for your rights! Who the cap fits, let them wear it. Jammin' and easy skanking, every ting gonna be all right.

If you got to see Bob live, you know. I have been lucky enough to see most of the top acts of the 60's and 70's live but the Marley shows were special... they were on a different plane. The first show I saw was the RastaMan Vibration Tour in late April 1976 at the Beacon Theater on Broadway in NYC. The Beacon was a top Rock concert Hall and drew fans from New York University, Columbia University the boroughs and Jersey. All the shows were sold out with fans of the Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, Doors, Jefferson Airplane and the like who had all be captured by Marley's Reggae Vibe. Lot's of trips to Jamaica were planned those nights.

All this time, I was buying up Reggae records from other artists - I figured if Bob's stuff was this good, there had to be other great stuff out there too. Culture, Joe Higgs, Burning Spear, Third World, Ras Michael, Lee Perry, Big Youth, U-Roy, The Heptones, Jimmy cliff... the list and my music collection grew and grew. I knew BIG TINGS A GWON.

When I heard Bob Marley and The Wailers were going to be at Madison Square Garden, I waited on line over night to get tickets. I got a ticket for myself and my little sister - I'd taken her to one of the last shows at the Fillmore East when she was 13-14 years old - I hadn't wanted her to miss being in that theater and this was the same kind of thing - I wanted her to get to see Bob. That night, as we walked in the Garden it was transformed into a magical place. It was a little like the energy being there for a Grateful Dead show but much deeper and more mystical - there was a natural mystic blowing through the air, can't keep them down - if you listen carefully now you will hear. It was a totally mixes audience from Rastas in Regal Garb to yuppies in jeans and t-shirts to N.Y's hip and connected "cool" crowd - it was the hot ticket in town that June 17 night in 1978. On another page you can see the ticket stub and program cover. I shot some great Bob Marley pictures at the Garden - the Ras John Reggae logo is from one of the shots I go that night as are the two stage shots you'll find.  The memory lives on.

I was working at NBC and later Westwood One where I got to know Timothy White and Roger Steffens who worked with me at The Source (NBC Rock Radio Network) and then when Timothy was doing Rock Stars for Westwood One. Timothy wrote one of the best books on Marley, “Catch A Fire” and Roger “Rojah” Steffens is probably Bob’s biggest fan along with being a serious historian of Reggae Music with Marley front and center of course. There’s so much thing to say… it is quite an amazement and joyous wonder how this reluctant Messiah from the hills of JA went on to have such a monumental impact on so many peoples lives. He spawned a whole culture. Robert Nesta Marley brought the world together with Music and delivered powerful messages - Robert Marley's lyrics and riddums - when it hit you feel no pain. I got to see Peter Tosh a couple of times, with one of those times a very special night sitting right by the stage with only a couple of hundred other people at NYC’s Bottom Line. It was a great show with the Tamlins providing harmony but no match for the mystical power of Bob.

I got to see The Wailers next in October of 1979 at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY. Walking along the street one day in the City, I saw a poster – you can see it on another page here – Betty Wight (a soul/gospel singer) and Bob Marley and The Wailers at The Apollo. I was not going to miss it – it was one of the few times Bob got to play to a predominantly Black audience in the States – Bob played every show like he had something to prove and won the heart and soul of the crowd each night. The Legend LIVE show that is on DVD from Santa Barbara, CA takes place about a month later and demonstrates the power of the band as well as anything I’ve seen on recordings except maybe the Roxy Show CD. You can get more info on other pages here. I headed home after the show by myself, thanking Jah for the privilege of being there and wondering yet again of the magic and wonder of the world we live in.
I was to see Bob Marley and the Wailers one more time and at that time, I had no idea that this was to be Bob's second to last live performance ever. The album Uprising was released in May 1980 and the band completed a major tour of Europe, where they played their biggest ever concert, to a hundred thousand people in Milan. The U.S. portion of the tour kicked off at Madison Square Garden in NYC. The atmosphere in The Garden was again mystical, other worldly - there's really no other way I can think to explain it - I have been to lots of concerts and event at The Garden - it is strange because the cavernous space somehow felt smaller, more intimate. There was definitely that Natural Mystic in the air - in my memory, the two Garden shows are merged into one extended vision of intense energy and a spacey, trippy haze. That's not just because mass quantities of upful herb were being toked in the huge building - it is because the event and the audience together produced this mystic magical vibe that was inescapable. When the band launched into the opening of Natural Mystic, the attention of the thousands of people lucky enough to be in NYC that night and at the show was immediately riveted on the stage. Moments later Bob came dancing and skanking out to center stage. For the next hour and a half, this Spiritual Warrior, musician, artist, poet - a reluctant Messiah by the name of Robert Nesta Marley again captivated the masses with his powerful positive and vibrant energy. By the time the encore of Could You Be Loved finished, the audience was filled with satisfied souls celebrating what they had just witnessed. By the time the co-billed Commodores hit the stage, they were left to play to an almost empty arena.

The next day Bob would collapse on a run in Central Park. It was thought he was suffering from exhaustion but it was to sadly turn out to be much more serious. In July 1977, Bob had been diagnosed with acral lentiginous melanoma, a form of malignant melanoma. He did not realize it yet but the disease had spread thorough his body. Bob wanted to press on - he was still on a mission, a mission of taking his Jah inspired message to the world - but, on September 23, 1980, Bob Marley was to play his final concert ever at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. A pretty good recording of this show exists and it is testament to his power as an artist - although he was already very sick, the sold out crowd in Pittsburgh still got to see one last, stunning show. That last night, Bob ended the show with an acoustic version of Redemption Song (the recording of the song from that night is the final track on Marley Songs of Freedom 4-cd box set). There would be a three song encore but Redemption Song was poetically perfect as a closing note. "There was a feeling of a whole era coming to a climax. Everyone felt he knew something was going to happen," said Rita Marley. "Redemption Song is like a final statement in a career, a summation of all of the themes and thought that had created it" - to quote the liner notes for Songs of Freedom. "We've got to fulfil the book."

Sunday, August 01, 2010

National Friendship Day

Today is National Friendship Day. For the past 75 years, people around the country and the world have taken time on this day to honor and celebrate that most special relationship: friendship.

As such, we wanted to let you know about our own group of friends: Friends of The Nature Conservancy.

Comprised of members who support the Conservancy on a monthly basis, Friends of The Nature Conservancy allows members to provide the consistent, long-term support that is essential to effective conservation. It is one of the easiest ways to have a significant impact.

Your monthly gift will make a lasting difference for our natural world. The sustained support of our friends helps us achieve remarkable results, including to:
Plans like these require long-term planning and long-term support. They require commitment. They require friends.

So on this National Friendship Day, please join Friends of The Nature Conservancy today.

Thank you for your commitment to our work and the natural world that sustains us all.

Begoña Vázquez-Santos
Director of Membership
The Nature Conservancy

p.s. In honor of National Friendship Day, send your friends a free nature ecard. Or if you're on Facebook, please become our Facebook friend too!