Fri | Nov 24, 2017

Fab 5 heads to Toronto

Published:Wednesday | July 20, 2011 | 12:00 AM
From left: André Palmer (with trumpet), Oliver Gordon (seated), Glenroy Samuels, Donovan Palmer (crouching), Frankie Campbell, Sidney Thorpe, Romeo Gray, and Asley 'Grub' Cooper. - Contributed

Fab 5, one of Jamaica's most loved performing and dance bands, will continue their amazing longevity as they celebrate their 40th year in Toronto again this summer.

Interestingly, Fab 5 first performed in Toronto in the very first year of their existence.

The band storms into Toronto on July 29, with a return to the Annual St George's College Old Boy's Association Annual Gala Fund-raiser event at Le Parc Conference and Banquet Centre in Thornhill. It is the first time in several years that Fab 5 will be playing for the Georgians.

Fab 5 is closely connected with North Street, as several original members are Kingston College old boys.

The band made a contribution recently to the rebuilding project at St George's in Kingston.

The Toronto tour continues on July 30 at the Doubletree Hotel with Fab 5's Independence Dance, before moving on to the Rozz Entertainment Complex the following day. The tour will conclude at the now-annual stop in Queen's Park for Irie Fest on August 1.

For those who wonder how Fab 5 has thrived for more than four decades, Frankie Campbell, manager and bassist for the group cites several reasons.

"We are always looking to keep in touch with musical trends. We may not be big fans of today's dancehall music, but every year, there are great songs and we try to make sure that we perform these songs and keep ourselves relevant to the younger generation.

Maintaining our energy

"At the same time, we periodically infuse new and younger talent into the band so that we maintain our energy and enthusiasm. The other thing is we like what we do and treat it like a job that we are privileged to have, rather than some burden forced on us. Fab 5, with the backing of artistes on shows and the new songs we put into our bandstand catalogue, must be one of the most rehearsed bands in the world. We are constantly in rehearsal."

Frankie and Grub Cooper, (the musical director and main songwriter and vocalist for the band), as well as its drummer, are founding members. Junior Bailey (another founding member), who now is retired from the bandstand, serves as the band's chief engineer on tour. At the other end of the spectrum, Oliver Gordon has only become an 'official' member of the band in the last year, even though he has been performing with the group for several years.

Among the many accolades and awards is the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in 2003 in The Performing Arts for their contribution to Jamaican music.