Strong roots start to Iration Ites Recovery Series
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
The Uprising Roots Band lost home, studio, and equipment to a fire in late June, but, from the start of Sunday night's first concert on their road to recovery, it was clear that they have no fear of flames.
Mama G lit a candle before she poured a libation, proclaiming blessing on all before the live music picked up on Gabre Selassie's good roots-reggae selections. And, nearly six hours at an event that went on far too long, close to the end of their concert-closing set, an inspired Uprising Roots hit a high with the title track of their recently released album Skyfiya.
"What a beautiful day!" Blackush, lead singer and drummer, said between verses as Uprising Roots went into the dub.
Sunday's concert at The Deck was the first in the Iration Ites Recovery Series for Uprising Roots and was an encouraging display of camaraderie among a resurgent roots and live-band music scene, as well as a common thread of commitment to rockers-style reggae among generations.
On the elder side of the roots equation were The Viceroys, the trio hitting home with capable harmonies and the enduring Yaho, among other cuts. Fredlocks turned up in tribute mode, paying homage to Sugar Minott and Dennis Brown as well as slipping in his seminal Seven Miles of Black Starliners on an unexpected rhythm to delight.
Still, the night's host Denise 'Isis' Miller, demanded more of Fredlocks' material and he complied with I've Got a Joy, the One Drop band picking up very quickly after he hummed the notes to the bass guitarist.
On the younger side of the night's roots-reggae continuum were Protoje and Jah9, performing in tandem. Protoje was up first with Argument among his opening salvo, and he told the enthusiastic audience that Uprising Roots was not only the first band he worked with but so also was the connection with Jah9. The latter started with a steady, sure dismissal of the negative ("I am going to let my body wash you out") and, in their extended, excellent stint, the interaction between the two was interesting.
At one point, Protoje sat on a speaker cabinet while Jah9 sang; at other points they passed the microphone much in a near surreptitious style, hands down low as they passed each other, making for smooth transitions.
In between the roots elders and relative youngsters were Prophecy, with a very strong voice and presence to take the house down from his opening Too Little Love through to Bodybags, and I-Cient-Cy Mau and the Mau Mau Warriors. Lead singer I-Cient-Cy Mau's gentle voice was in contrast to hard-hitting lyrics as he sang of Struggle and Jah blessings, but his intense body movement came off as very studied.
Also on the elder side was Bongo Herman, dipping into his accustomed bag of percussive tricks - ending with the enamel chamber pot - and slinging his bag over his shoulder to pay respects to Sugar Minott with Oh Mr DC, which the audience enjoyed.
Still that audience, never very large to begin with, sloughed away over time, as although the music was in the main good (in the early going a youngster committed the musical sacrilege of missing a few lines from Bunny Wailer's Dreamland) there were four bands with the attendant changes. And Uprising Roots, who took the opportunity of presenting persons from their True Music camp in the early going, came on at 12:45 a.m., very late hours on a nine to fiver's working morning.