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Bob Andy Unplugged focuses on songwriter

Published:Sunday | October 2, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Herbie Miller, curator of the Jamaica Music Museum, speaks at the launch of Bob Andy Unplugged.
Protoje speaking at Friday's launch of Bob Andy Unplugged at Redbones Blues Cafe, New Kingston. He is one of the performers slated for the concert on Friday, October 28, at the Karl Hendrickson Auditorium, Jamaica College.

On Friday evening, Junior Lincoln named an impressive list of performers already confirmed for Bob Andy Unplugged, a concert slated for Friday, October 28, at the Karl Hendrickson Auditorium, Jamaica College, St Andrew.

Among them are Bunny Wailer, Duane Stephenson, John Holt, Ken Boothe, Marcia Griffiths, Tarrus Riley, Tony Rebel, Suzanne Couch, Mutabaruka, Protoje, AJ Brown, Carlene Davis and Dwight Richards, with "maybe another 10 artistes to be confirmed". The roster of musicians is of equally outstanding pedigree - Maurice Gordon, Ibo Cooper, Dean Fraser, Desi Jones and Jon Williams. Merritone will play at the party which follows the concert.

Lincoln wryly said he was not sure how the singers and players of instruments would be shaped into concert format to present songs from Bob Andy's catalogue, but he emphasised that Bob Andy Unplugged is a concert. "This is not a show. You will not have the long set changes and so forth," he said.

wide interpretation

He noted that with Andy's catalogue being interpreted, "Bob Andy's songs, probably more than any other Jamaican writer or composer, lend themselves to this sort of concert". Musically, there will be jazz, acoustic, the big-band sound with string section, reggae - "just about all the genres you can think of. Bob Andy's songs can be given this sort of treatment".

Lincoln emphasised, "Away from presenting Bob Andy songs, we will be presenting Jamaican music at its best."

While Andy is a notable singer, it was a launch where the power of the songwriter took precedence, host Elaine Wint-Leslie going through an extensive list of persons who have covered Bob Andy's material, many persons going into his catalogue more than once.

AJ Brown, Alton Ellis, Barrington Levy, Big Youth, Freddie McGregor, Errol Dunkley, Delroy Wilson, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, John Holt, Ken Boothe, Giuliano Palma and the Bluebeaters from Italy, Los Pericos from Argentina, Taj Mahal, Sanchez, Maxi Priest and the Mighty Diamonds are only a few of those who have recorded Bob Andy's songs.

Diane Ellis from the Friends of Bob Andy, a group that is a driving force behind Bob Andy Unplugged - which is getting support from the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and TVJ - announced the formation of the Bob Andy Song Foundation. Incorporated in September 2011, the Foundation "seeks to promote, preserve, and impart the music, artistic talent, songwriting and musical legacy of Bob Andy through music education and other programmes. The Foundation also seeks to progressively impact the development of Jamaica's musical heritage and to promote music and the performing arts among the youth, young adults and children in Jamaica, in parti-cular, those resident in the inner-city."

Ellis said that members of the Friends of Bob Andy - which is easy to join - have "an enormous respect for his stature", this being within reggae and other music genres.

Herbie Miller, curator of the Jamaica Music Museum, underscored the role of the songwriter in general and Andy in particular, of whom Miller said "as songwriter, many claim he is unparalleled". However, Miller noted that most often the singer gets all the attention and the songwriter is relegated to relative obscurity.

generational gap

Making the connection between generations, deejay Protoje noted that growing up in a house where music was played a lot, "I am very fortunate and blessed to have grown up on this type of music." However, he pointed to a deficiency in radio. "When I was 11 years old and turned on the radio, I was not hearing Black Uhuru, Bob Andy and Hugh Mundell," Protoje said.

He said that radio programming had to be addressed. "It is called radio programming for a reason," he emphasised.

There was applause when Protoje credited Andy with fighting for the rights to his music. "As writers in Jamaica, so many people have written so many songs and have not got the credit. It has been taken away," Protoje said.

And the technical side was not ignored, as Eugene Folkes of Telegens Inc spoke to the streaming of Bob Andy Unplugged.

Karen Harriott spoke on behalf of Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture, the Hon Olivia Grange. TVJ general manager Kay Osbourne delivered the launch's main address.

- M.C.