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Stabroek News

Older 'Blood' on 'Fire' again - Top band regroups for one show
published: Sunday | March 16, 2008

Members of Bloodfire Posse.

Teino Evans, Staff Reporter

Remember the good old days when attending a concert with a live showband gave you the thrills?

Not only are fans looking forward to making that trek down memory lane, but members of the Bloodfire Posse are also in high spirits about reuniting for a one-time only performance at this year's staging of Take Me Away with Richie Stephens and Friends at the National Indoor Sports Arena on April 27.

The members (Danny Browne, Paul Blake, Donovan 'Benjie' Belnavis, Steven 'Lenky' Marsden, Trevor 'Skatta' Bonnick and Cleveland 'Clevie' Browne) may not possess the same zeal and energy as they did some 18 years ago, but one thing is for certain - they intend to enjoy the moment as they relive some of the good old days.

Recorded hits

As a group, the Bloodfire Posse recorded hits like Rub A Dub Soldier, Get Flat and Are You Ready, all of which topped the Jamaican charts.

Bloodfire Posse became known internationally and, in 1985, made their first UK appearance at the second Reggae Sunsplash Festival there.

In 1986, Trevor 'Skatta' Bonnick replaced Blake as lead singer, initially voicing hits like Do You Feel Like Dancing, Can't Stop Rocking Tonight and a version of the Four Tops' Ain't No Woman (Like The One I Got).

In June 1990, the band was hit hard when they mourned the death of founding member Alden Stewart.

After remaining low-key for about a year, the group revived in 1991 as they strummed up hits like, Dance All Night and Rude Boys, but disbanded for good two years later.

Another Bloodfire founding member, drummer Carl Ayton, died in 2001.

Paul Blake, who was the original lead singer with the group some 21 years ago, says he has always been in touch with Danny Browne "because both of us are Christians, but for the rest of the band, I haven't seen, so it would be good".

Blake says it wasn't an easy decision "because I'm a pastor now, so I had to pray and ask the Lord if I could do this ... . But what this is to me is an opportunity to minister to a secular audience".

"Even though I will be singing Bloodfire songs, I will use this opportunity to share my testimony in the limited time that we have. But it's a great opportunity to be jamming with the guys again," Blake added.

Numerous requests

Danny Browne says although, because of his new lifestyle as a Christian, he has no intention of pursuing a reunion, "I am really looking forward to it; I can't explain why. We've had numerous requests for it (the reunion), but there is something different about this one".

He added that "right now the excitement, people hearing want to be there, including my pastor. Everybody who knew about Bloodfire wants to be there. Bloodfire never broke up as a group; we just stopped and started doing other stuff and just got too busy for each other. But, for me, it's like friends coming back together and doing what we do best and to be able to share this joy with Jamaica".

Benjie says he too is "really looking forward to meeting up with the 'Posse', because it's been a while, "but it's something that is still within us. It's going to bring back a lot of vibes from yesteryear".

Back and forth

Benjie, who has been playing in the Ruff Cut band since 1993, "doing a lot of touring, playing for artistes like Moses (Beenie Man)", is now based in the United States, but says he does "a lot of back and forth because of the music".

Benjie says "it will be great to link up back with Danny and Paul. And it's unique, as Paul Blake and Scatta will be representing two different eras of Bloodfire because one took over from the other."

Skatta, who is also a member of the Ruff Cut band and had been involved in "production and helping people to voice properly on rhythms, because vocals is my first instrument", says his only hope is "that people will come out and try to rekindle what used to be in the days that Bloodfire was and the nowadays young people can see what Bloodfire was doing back in those days. Because a lot of people aged 20 and so would not have seen Bloodfire perform live".

According to Skatta, "20 years ago I use to jump up and down an carry on. I was fit and performing onstage was very exciting. And to see people appreciate your music, it was a good feeling and over the years you miss that, not being out there as the front person".

Cleveland 'Clevie' Browne, now part of the popular production duo Steelie and Clevie says "I'm really excited about this opportunity to bring back some of that feeling of showmanship to the marketplace and to allow for some of those fans of that type of offering to be entertained once more".

Bloodfire members say the music today is not quite what it was in days gone by as there are some key elements lacking.

Benjie says he believes "there is a void in the music industry for certain areas".

"Music I find now is either dancehall or culture. It's not just universal music, it's categorised now. Right now, it's repetition. I'm not knocking what is happening now, because the music is still moving forward, but there is room for variety, music should not be limited to boundaries," he said.

Show bands

And while Skatta agrees, his main bone of contention is the fact that "we don't have more show bands in the music. That's missing because back then we even use to try and outdo each other - Chalice, Hot Steppers ... you go onstage you had to perform, go with something well put together, you couldn't just go up and sing".

He continued: "If you really check Bloodfire music back then ... I think they were ahead of their time. The music today is just catching up to where Bloodfire was, because even like auto-tune and those things we were using a long time ago. The tempo, the young people nowadays love fast tempo music and we use to do that ... so what goes around comes around".

Clevie, too, agreed that "Bloodfire was on the cutting edge of technology at the time when they use to perform".

"A lot of the equipment utilised then have only been modified, like the drum machine. But the style of the music was unique, so there is nothing like it today and there may never be another Bloodfire Posse. But I find that in the offerings of groups like Third World and Inner Circle (which was before Bloodfire's time), there was showmanship, unlike today where we see songs being performed without people being entertained," Clevie said.

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