Mel Cooke, Freelance Writer
Bushman gives a commanding performance at 'Tribute to Peter Tosh' at Independence Park, Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, last Friday. - Adrian Frater photo
Bushman, the singer from St. Thomas who led the 'Remember The Days' multi-performer production in the early 1990s and has Lighthouse among the popular songs to his credit, has found a connection with a 'Bush Doctor' from Westmoreland who was murdered 20 years ago.
The result is an album of Peter Tosh songs, entitled Bushman Sings The Bush Doctor, slated for release early next year.
It was a connection that came at least in part through a phone call from a long-time Tosh advocate. "After doing an interview with Richie B, (former Minister of Finance) Omar Davies said I remind him so much of Peter,"Bushman told The Gleaner.
This led to him focusing more on Tosh, who was murdered in Barbican, St. Andrew, on September 11, 1987, and eventually the tribute album, which is being done by Bushman's own Burning Bushes along with Penthouse Records.
When Bushman spoke with The Gleaner he was at Penthouse to record Rightful Ruler, Burial and Oh B....o.....t, which, along with about two more songs, should complete the project. Already recorded are African, Mama Africa (featuring Buju Banton), Don't Look Back (featuring Tarrus Riley), Downpresser Man, Glasshouse, Mark of the Beast, Johnny B. Goode (originally done by Chuck Berry) and Can't Blame the Youths.
Among the musicians who have played on Bushman Sings The Bush Doctor, which was started two and a half months ago, are Mitchum Khan, Kirk Bennett, Dean Fraser, Donald Dennis, Ernie Wilks, Trevor McKenzie and Michael Fletcher.
Can't Blame the Youths will be the first single from the album.
Bushman says so far the response to the songs has been "wonderful. We did the Peter Tosh tribute over the weekend and I can see for myself and what I sense from the crowd."
He said when he came off the stage "some of the people were asking if that was an original song", naming Bush Doctor and Ja Guide among those which caused some confusion. "The people fall into a trance and don't know if it is Bushman or Peter," he said.
There has also been a stop at the Monterry Festival in Northern California and "people are hearing stuff".
However, one of the smiliarities Bushman sees between himself and the 'Stepping Razor', as Tosh was also known, is the low level of recognition they have both got in Jamaica. "He (Tosh) has not got the level of recognition I think he should have had. A lot of people can relate to that," Bushman said.
And, in doing Bushman Sings The Bush Doctor, he says "you have to give credit to the past musicians who were there before I and I."
Along with the music came a process of researching Tosh for himself, as Bushman said he spoke to people who grew up with Peter Tosh. "We even learn sey Andrew Tosh (Peter Tosh's son) fi call Bunny Wailer uncle," he said. "We just dig deeper, because we want to know Peter and what Peter was all about. Just like an archaeologist, a so we deal wid de music." And what he found was that Tosh was about uplifting the people, equal rights and justice, "just like Marcus Garvey".
One of the persons who told him about Tosh, Michael Morgan, was also among a set of persons who helped select the songs for the tribute album. Donavan Germaine of Penthouse and his manager Vanessa were also involved in the process, as was Bushman.
"I never really choose on my own. Peter have so many songs. I love all of them," he said.
Originally Bushman Sings The Bush Doctor was slated for a February 2008 release, but that may be revised as it is traditionally a month in which Bob Marley is celebrated and "the focus will be on Bob Marley". What is more certain, though, is the December or January release of another album from Bushman, Get It In Your Mind, his first full-length studio effort in three years. He will be heading to MIDEM in France in February, after three shows in Canada in November and doing the Caribbean in December.