August 2006

Chester Miller with The Hardcore Band
Ernest Ranglin with Jason Wilson & Tabarruk
Steel Pulse
at the 2006 Irie Music Festival
August 6, 2006Ontario PlaceToronto
Wicked, Wicked, Wicked
by Sue Bullas with photos by Roger Humbert
On a beautiful sunny evening we’re missing the Jamaican heat but everything else gives us the illusion. The sounds of splashing from the water rides complement the Island sounds of the Irie artists carrying us to a relaxing place. The late start proves we are on Jamaican time and the only things missing are the jerk chicken and the Red Stripe beer.

Chester Miller has a great voice, despite its rough edges it is rich and mellow. He goes on later to explain that the number of performances has taken its toll on his voice. The lyrics are fresh and while that reggae beat remains the same he’s got a unique style. He drives on, maybe worried he will lose his voice depriving us of clapping appreciation. Sadly, the Hardcore Band did not have a huge crowd as people slowly dribbled in. The band played a medley of Dennis Emanuel Brown ‘the crown prince of reggae’ songs. Brown who recently passed away, is very well known and lots of crowd members sang along.

Steel drums played on the keyboard, the keyboard and bass player get into the music while the rest just kind of stand there. The swaying starts among the crowd as dusk falls and we can actually see the light show.

Before we are introduced to Ernest Ranglin we are impressed by Jason Wilson and Tabarruk. This is a reggae band without a dread in sight. It looks a little strange at first but they are technically so impressive dreads don’t seem to matter. Tabarruk has a bit more of a jazz reggae feel which includes a trombone and a sax. These guys are tight and enjoy the music. People are finally starting to gather, dancing in earnest. Jay Douglas is their special guest, coming out to sing a couple of songs. He has a great voice similar to that of a crooner.

The world’s best jazz reggae guitarist, Ernest Ranglin, graces the stage. You can tell just by his countenance this man just wants to play. The Tabarruk guys break out in a grin, knowing they are playing with a legend taking in his style and flair. The way Ranglin plays is amazing, utilizing almost the entire neck of his guitar on each song. He plays like a gurgling brook heading one direction, with sudden turns he takes on another, altering the tempo or the melody.

His style comes through not just in the way he plays but in his cool white suit. The attention he pays to his guitar and the other players is more of a concern than the crowd. He knows we appreciate his talent from our cheers. Witnessing Ernest Ranglin with my own eyes I am amazed at how he optimizes technique, quality of play and talent.

Steel Pulse has quite a crowd that has slowly gathered over three hours. And they start with the voice altering words of one of the backup singers with lots of sound effects. Most of us are now on our feet anticipating. The sound is so much larger than the previous acts. These guys have a funk element and remind me in their style of the Wailers, probably the only band who ever really has in a real sense and not a mimicking way. You feel the bass in your chest and wonder if it will actually alter your heart beat. Everyone in the crowd has their own way to move but we all have that reggae beat in common.

"We don’t need no weapons of mass destruction" says one song, Steel Pulse has a message. Their last album African Holocaust touches on many issues relevant to today. These guys have been around since the 70’s and while the line up has changed it seems the importance of the message to try and make the world a better place and educate yourself has not.

Ernest Ranglin

David Hinds (Steel Pulse)
They have fun too! Ska, dub, rap, mixing in sounds, the girls dancing, it is a mix of fresh and a little retro thrown in. At one point the majority of the band leaves and we are left with a keys and guitar jamming. No longer reggae, it reminds me more of the blues and while it’s a great piece it’s almost a surreal sojourn to the real show. It leaves the boppers and swayers a little confused but gains lots of appreciative cheers from the crowd at the same time. Well played guys! Rasta man brings the boppers and sawyers back into the groove. "Abra cadabra catch me if you can!" the lyrics taunt.

Wicked, wicked, wicked as they say in Jamaica, a great night was had by all.

> View more photos from the 2006 Irie Music Festival <
We welcome your comments and feedback
Sue Bullas
• • • • • •
Roger Humbert
• •
The Live Music Report

| Home | Archives | CD Reviews | Photo Galleries | Concert Listings | Contact |

Please contact us to secure permission for use of any material found on this website.
© The Live Music Report – 2006