'Drummie' Isaacs marches to own beat

Cecelia Campbell-Livingston

Friday, March 23, 2012

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ON April 20, the Reggae Film Festival will present the documentary, Studio One Drummie and the History of Rocksteady Music. One of its stars is drummer Joe 'Drummie' Isaacs of the Soul Vendors band.

In it, Isaacs, who played on many classic songs at Studio One during the 1960s, speaks of his days working with legendary musicians including Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer of the Wailers, keyboardist Jackie Mittoo, Alton Ellis, Ken Boothe, Toots and the Maytals, the Heptones, Marcia Griffiths, Burning Spear and American singer Johnny Nash.

Studio One Drummie also sees Isaacs exploring cultures of the Nyabinghi Rastafarians and the Maroons.

Recently, the 63-year-old spoke to Splash about his time at Studio One, from his home in Florida.

"It was all about love, everything was done in love," he said. "No one knew where it (music) was gonna end, but it was a happy feeling to go there (studio) every day to create rhythms."

Isaacs, who hails from Bog Walk in St Catherine, was never formally trained as a drummer. He says he left school at age 15 and went straight into music.

"I had a calling to play drums and was never really academically inclined in school. Many are called but few chosen; I feel I was chosen for this mission," he said.

At Studio One, he played on many hits including I've Got To Go Back Home by Bob Andy and Fatty Fatty by the Heptones.

Isaacs is disappointed with the lack of recognition for him and many of his contemporaries in Jamaica.

"That is the greatest disappointment in my life," he said.

He is also not happy with the state of contemporary Jamaican music.

"The music that is going on today basically is not really good," he said. "The rhythms are good, but the vocals that are put on these rhythms is not all that good — disrespecting ladies, dealing with badness, slackness and murdering," he added. "We are using the most powerful weapon in the world to describe these different things."

He believes a change to more quality content can have a positive impact on Jamaican society.

"I would really say that the music has a lot to do with the violence and everything going on in the whole world," Isaacs said. Educate the youths on how important the music is. When you have good content, that's when you will see change."




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