By Sharon Gordon
It certainly felt like a reunion of sorts inside the Capitol Theatre in Portchester, New York, on Friday, December 7 where reggae legend, Toots and the Maytals played to a packed house on a rainy night on the eve of his 70th birthday.
News came earlier in the week that Toots and the Maytals had picked up their fifth Grammy nomination for the acoustic set titled, Toots & the Maytals’ Unplugged on Strawberry Hill featuring hits like Bam Bam, Pressure Drop, and 54-46 that were recorded and filmed at Chris Blackwell’s famed Strawberry Hill property in the cool hills of St. Andrew, Jamaica.
An always pleasant Toots expressed how happy he was that “the Grammy committee has included his album for consideration along with the others nominated.”
Smiling, he said, he likes and has “great respect for the artists in this category.” Fear Nuttin Band from Springfield, Massachusetts opened the evening with an eclectic set fused with heavy reggae and rock influences and was followed by Tom Tom Club.
Leba, Toot’s very talented daughter then strutted on stage and did not disappoint when she delivered a stunning rendition of Tina Turner’s cover of Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together to warm up the crowd for her father.
Looking anything but 70 years old, Toots took the stage looking rather dapper in a black leather vest with matching leather pants, signature dark glasses and black doo rag tied firmly on his head.
Toots delved into an acoustic set starting off with the mega hit Reggae Got Soul journeying through his treasure trove of hits including Pressure Drop, Times Tough, Funky Kingston, closing out with 54-46.
There was a special moment when Mike Cacia, Toots long time manager took the microphone and invited Leba back on stage to sing happy birthday to her Dad.
It was indeed a family affair when two of Toot’s grand children joined them on stage as well. Bass player Hopeton, who is also Toot’s son had his son on stage along with Leba’s daughter.
Rock guitarist Cici Christi and Rolling Stone’s Bobby Keyes took turns jamming with band members Carl Harvey on lead guitar, rhythm guitarist Radcliff Bryan, keyboardist Charles Farquahson, drummer Paul Douglas, legendary bass player Jackie Jackson and Hopeton Hibbert.
The Harmony singers Chantelle Ernandez and Brady Shamar complimented the sound well. Engineer Nigel Burrell made it all sound so good.
Hanging out back stage was Denroy Morgan who boasts of his days growing up with Toots in May Pen. They have “remained best friends to this day,” he said.
Mystic Bowie was also seen back stage as was Coozie Mellers and other band members from Anthem Band. Andrea Davis of Jamaica Arts Holdings was also in the house.