Shinehead moves with the rhythm
Shinehead spent most of his time in an early Friday afternoon performance during the 2015 Welcome to Jamrock Reggae Cruise off the stage. The raised area on the Tahitian Pool Deck, where the band was set up, was a base he homed in on from time to time. But the stage was wherever Shinehead was, bodies parting ahead of his approach as neatly as the ocean at the Norwegian Pearl's bow; crowds and cameras trailing in his wake as surely as the white wash in the blue of water at her stern.
And as he docked with a cruiser or a fellow performer, rocking with a lady or sharing the microphone with Michigan, Papa Levi, Cindy Breakspeare and Barrington Levy, Shinehead never missed a beat.
It was an outstanding display of deejaying, singing, rapping and whistling, made even more remarkable by Shinehead's previous level of participation in the cruise's multiple events. These included selecting on the Kingston 12 sound system with DJ Papaloti, aka 'Butterfly', the lady putting on the vinyl as Shinehead hosted and toasted. There was also a stint with King Jammy during the producer's live mixing session, Damian 'Jr Gong' trading lyrics with Shinehead at one point.
Shinehead even toasted from the sound system during one of the numerous band changes.
On Friday afternoon, under the blazing sun, Shinehead was in a grey three-piece suit (the pants were knee length), complete with bow tie. Fusing with the Uprising Band (despite limited rehearsal time), Shinehead delivered a combination of his originals and covers, showing a sense of the importance of preserving musical history.
In between singing Wayne Smith's Under Me Sleng Teng and his own Know How Fe Chat, Shinehead said, "Certain people have to be revered. It is not that I can't write my own intellectual property, but certain people have to be remembered."
Mingling with audience
Shinehead started out on stage with his Rough and Rugged, which builds the intensity of the song throughout each verse. By the time he had switched to Beres Hammond's Tempted to Touch, he was off the stage, touching fists with male members of the audience, hugging ladies and dancing with them, and snuggling up in one women's lap - all the time doing the vocals and encouraging a few people to take a snatch of a line.
The rhythm was changed to Sleng Teng and, after climbing nimbly back on the stage, Shinehead did Tenor Saw's Pumpkin Belly and commented on the impact of the sun. "I have to pace myself. The sun hot and I don't want to get dehydrated. I have to restrain myself," he said. Consequently, he made frequent stops at the cup near the drum set, eventually taking it with him on some of his forays into the audience.
The jacket soon came off, but not the vest or bow tie. Shinehead did his own Know How Fe Chat on the Sleng Teng rhythm along with the Wayne Smith tribute, as he explored the rhythm at length - as was the case with others.
Strive was a singalong for the audience and so was Dennis Brown's Sitting and Watching. Shinehead was, by now, back off the stage and making treks around the ship's deck, at points stopping on raised areas. His remake of Whitney Houston's You Give Good Love was followed by Freddie Jackson's Rock With Me Tonight, a line or two delivered to an individual lady, along with a hug and a rock.
The wind whipped Shinehead's hair, let out from the cornrows he had sported throughout the cruise up to that point. He complimented the audience members on their participation in the Welcome to Jamrock Reggae Cruise. "We are here because we are serious about having our fun. There is nobody here begging to come into the dance, him and him friend. It's only serious people here. We work hard and smart. It comes with a price. Is nuff stress on the job. We have to offset that," Shinehead said.
Whether or not releasing the stress was connected to the next song, Shinehead chose Frankie Paul's Kushumpeng. Producer Jack Scorpio and deejay Michigan, standing under a covered area of the deck, were given a special hail. Michigan was the first impromptu professional guest, delivering "a long time mi nuh deejay inna dance". Moving across to the other side of the deck, Shinehead spotted Cindy Breakspeare and encouraged her to sing. She conceded with Beres Hammond's Tempted to Touch, Shinehead following with his remake of Golden Touch.
"Now I will tell you who this is," Shinehead said, although chances are many people already did, based on the number of persons gathered to capture still and moving images of the two. "You are looking at Miss Jamaica Universe Forever," Shinehead said.
He injected Tony Rebel's Fresh Vegetable, Gregory Isaacs' Tune In, whistled part of the theme from the western The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, and sang Michael Jackson's Human Nature. The band was introduced, each member doing a solo (Shinehead described one keyboard player as "Bounty Killer with dreadlocks"), there was a Nat King Cole selection and Papa Levi and Barrington Levy did brief stints from the audience area as Shinehead paused with them.
Strive hit the spot and, on a ship where a number of nations were represented in the flags mounted around the deck and the flesh of those on the cruise, Shinehead's Jamaican take on Legal Alien resounded with the audience as he, back on the stage, ended his mid-afternoon interactive performance.