Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gregory Isaacs, the "Cool Ruler"

Gregory IsaacsCover of Gregory Isaacs
The reggae world has lost one of its major singing stars of the 1970's and 80's this past Monday.  Gregory Isaacs, also known as the "Cool Ruler" for his polished, aching vocals of love, loss, and ghetto life, which endeared him to Caribbean music lovers everywhere....died after a year long battle with cancer.  He was just 59 years old!
Friends and colleagues often labeled Isaacs "the Frank Sinatra" of Jamaica for his elegant, vocal phrasing....yet, it was his uncanny ability to write great music and reggae songs that set him apart.
Also known for his fashion sense, Isaacs performed in the 1978 film 'The Rockers' wearing a powder blue tuxedo and black fedora, and was alwalys hailed as a dapper wearer of designer suits and silk shirts.
"He would often mingle through a crowded room of 20 or 30 people, make a quick exit, and then immediately describe precisely what everyone was wearing", said friend and former manager Don Hewitt.
As far as spoken words go, Isaacs was actually a man of very few, saving most of them for song, stage, and albums....of which he recorded close to 100!
"Gregory used to sit and go through his lyrics with a dictionary", said his wife Linda, a secondary-school teacher.  "He was always clean with his lyrical content and his grammar, constantly dedicating himself to satisfying his fans with music they wanted to hear"
Born in the rough Kingston, Jamaica neighborhood Denham Town, Isaacs was inspired by American soul artist Sam Cooke, and began writing and recording in his late teens....finally making his name with the solo hit single "All I Have Is Love" in 1973.
He then sang with the Motown-flavored vocal group 'The Concords' before going solo and hitting his stride.
Isaac's future, sleek reggae-sound and lyrics focused on romantic tales and pleas of love that, both fulfilled, and frustrated!  His effortless, understated ease of moans and groans became a signature, romantic favorite....both on stage and on  the dance floor.
Isaacs soon became a major record seller in Jamaica, and then in Britain too, with hits like "My Only Lover" and "Slave Master".  The commercial success of his 'Lovers Rock' established this sound as a dominant force in Reggae, that inspired other artists such as 'Frankie Paul' and 'Sugar Minott', who also made love songs for the dance hall.
Unfortunately, Isaacs also cultivated an outlaw persona--a "rude boy" in Jamaican slang....with frequent run-ins with the law, most of them drug or gun-related, as he suffered from a serious cocaine addiction.
This likely dampened his potential for greater success, as Isaacs was slated to somehow fill the void left when reggae icon 'Bob Marley' died in 1982. 
That same year Isaacs recorded his all time greatest hit "Night Nurse", but instead of capitalizing on its success, he spent six-months in prison on cocaine possession charges...suffering from a drug habit that eventually deteriorated his subtle voice!
However, in recent years Isaacs is said to have torn the monkey off his back, with positive stage reviews, and a successful, final album "A Brand New Me", released in 2008.
"Drugs are a debasing weapon", Isaacs said in a 2007 interview.  "It was the greatest college ever, but the most expensive school fee ever paid--cocaine highschool!  I learned everything, and then I put it on the side!"
It's extremely sad when superstars like Gregory Isaacs, and many, many other entertainers and celebrities learn the harsh lessons of substance abuse too late!  I only say this because Isaacs was such a special talent, that seemed to have more in his tank...yet, ran out of gas before the finish line--because of drugs!
Never-the-less, Gregory Isaacs had a fairly long run as a major figure, with a unique voice that touched the music community, and entertained fans the world over!  He will be sorely missed, leaving behind a wife, a brother, and twelve children. 
Thanks, and stay logged on to Streetwise Radio at www.Streetwisesd.com/radio
Sincerely,  PeteCam4
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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Irie Maffia


Having been formed in 2005, Irie Maffia soon became a firm favourite with the young party-goers of Budapest, which can hardly be considered a surprise given the powerful medley of reggae, hip-hop, rock and funk they play, and the impressive line-up in terms of the Hungarian underground-music scene. Sena, Busa and Columbo are all well-known figures of Budapest nightlife. Among the musicians are such names as Dermot, the ingenious bandleader and trombone-player, or Jumo Daddy, the Hammond organ wizard.

The band has performed at practically every festival in Hungary imaginable, while their sound system formation (consisting of the DJs and MCs of the band) has been kept busy by the clubs of the country.

The memorable full house release party of the Mafia’s first LP, Fel a kezekkel! (Hands in the air), took place on A38, a popular party boat in Budapest, in December, 2007.

Irie Maffia's first video clip, shot for their most popular song, Hands In the Air, came out by the spring of 2008.


In autumn 2008 the Irie Maffia was one of the 5 nominees for MTV European Music Awards Local Hero in Hungary.

The band's sound system formation holds weekly club nights in Corvin teto, offering awesome reggae music to the Tuesday night audience of the venue.

The popularity of Irie Maffia, however, is by no means restricted to the borders of Hungary. Their first recording in 2006 made use of a dancehall riddim, the Rodeo riddim (formerly made popular by the mighty Seeed), which was released by Germaica Records, Europe’s leading reggae/dancehall record company.

To make the most of the success, the Maffia went on tour to several European destinations, amongst which was the Italian Rototom Sunsplash in 2007, probably the greatest reggae competition of the continent. They came in second with an outstanding performance after the local Italian heroes, which was an immense achievement in the light of the fact that they had had to convince a thoroughly orthodox jury with their rather eclectic and innovative kind of music.


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Friday, October 1, 2010

“Squidly Cole”



Renown drummer, producer and vocalist Wilburn “Squidly Cole” performs Saturday, Oct. 2 with Rootz Underground at the Last Day Saloon in Santa Rosa. Cole comes from a rich family legacy; he is the son of veteran singer/producer Stranger Cole and nephew of lead vocalist Donald “Tabby” Shaw of the Mighty Diamonds. He has toured extensively with Ziggy Marley, Stephen Marley, Sizzla to name a few.  This is the first stop on the promotional tour for Cole’s latest CD, “BloodLine.”


For “BloodLine” CDs, visit www.rootsrecords.com. For downloads, visit www.100studio.com.


For interviews with Squidly Cole contact Shelah Moody @ (415) 577-4445 or email smoodytone@aol.com.


Who: Rebellion Prod Presents - Rootz Underground and special guest artists Squidly Cole and DJs Jah Yzer and Jah Warrior Shelter.

When: Saturday, Oct. 2, 9 p.m.

Where: Last Day Saloon, 120 5th St., Santa Rosa

Tickets: Presale $20, (707) 545-5876, http://www.lastdaysaloon.com

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