Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
In a huge concert setting Carl Dawkins' microphone stand manoeuvres are impressive. He seems able to bend it to his will, having it lean away from him then calling it back to order with the tap of a toe.
Tonight, at Redbones Blues Café, New Kingston, Dawkins will show that there are no strings attached - literally - to the showmanship that accompanies his distinctive vocals on songs such as Satisfaction and Part Time Love.
"Some people use string," Dawkins observed.
It will be the third time in recent months that Dawkins is performing in an intimate setting, a show at Skateland on Windward Road and another at Union Square in Cross Roads preceding tonight's event. This time around, Phillip Frazer and Foxy Brown are also on the bill and Dawkins will be carrying his son, Carl Dawkins Jr, along.
He plans to do an hour and says selecting songs will not be hard. He has a lot of material to choose from, decades separating his first successful recording, Baby I Love You, and his most recent trio of singles Love Like Fire, Half Moon and Money Talk. And he is also adamant that there will be no stopping. "We no haul and pull up. We keep the rocking away all the way, from the top to the end. Them haul and pull up the music til' we are just skin and bones, no veins running to the heart. It hurt me it get to that level," Dawkins said.
Dawkins' pedigree is evident. He calls Ken Boothe "my best friend in the music", describes Buju Banton as "my jock" ("him sing and win, then him lose"), and calls Beres Hammond 'Cudjoe'. Horace Andy and Bob Marley ("in and out the grave is my friend") are also among his preferred peers. What they all have in common is a preference for creating original songs. They are also quickly identifiable and distinctive and he says "that is what the music need, identification".
He has not toured Europe, a preferred stomping ground, in three or four years, putting that down in part to not having a booking agent. Still, Dawkins said, "I sing every day. I create this sound here (his unique style)". And, he said, he sings anything that comes to mind, proceeding to demonstrate by making a song out of his conversation.
In terms of his personal identity, Dawkins names some Jamaican social classes. "You have the rich, the not so rich, the middle class and the peasant. We fall in the Rasta class. We can reciprocate to any class at any time," he said.