Dreadless: Dutch keepers of reggae

Cecelia Campbell-Livingston

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

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With February being Reggae Month, this is the first in an eight-part series looking at reggae's global influence. The music originated in Jamaica, but it has been embraced by people in many countries. Today, we feature the Dreadless band from The Netherlands.

THE Netherlands has always had a vibrant reggae movement. In the 1970s, roots music and Rastafari caught on in the land of windmills. Jamaican acts still tour there.

Dreadless, a a group out of the city of Dordrecht in the southern part of the country, is one of many home-grown reggae bands.

According to Andre Van Zanten, its keyboardist/vocalist, reggae continues to do well in The Netherlands thanks to a thriving festival and club circuit.

"During festivals there's usually a reggae band programme, and there are reggae bands in the hundreds of pubs across the country," said Van Zanten in an interview with the Jamaica Observer.

Formed as Dread in 2001, Van Zanten says Dreadless is heavily influenced by the one-drop beat made famous in the 1970s by Bob Marley and The Wailers.

That sound drives most of their songs like 10 Out Of 100, Outside World and The Truth. The band recently released the album, The Next Lion, which has tracks such as Something Higher, Respect, Rastaman Love, and Black Black.

The other members of Dreadless are Bibi Provence (lead vocals); Ras Billy Gongoman Coenraad (lead vocals); Diana J Ritfield (vocals); Luc Ghering (bass); Jerrel Tremour (drums); Thom Schotel (guitar); Sherwin 'Ras Tula' Martina (percussions); Nander van Rooijen (saxophone) and Alphonso Makovec (trumpet).

They have played numerous gigs in their homeland, neighbouring Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom, and worked with Caribbean reggae artistes like Ras Iba from the Virgin Islands, Ibis Lawrence from Dominica and Jamaican Horace Martin.

Though Marley was the first Jamaican musician to attract a mass audience in The Netherlands, ska and rocksteady were popular there in the 1960s through massive hits like My Boy Lollipop and Israelites.

Marley performed in the country several times, one of which is captured on his live Babylon By Bus album. Burning Spear, Culture, Steel Pulse, and several roots acts also made frequent trips there.

The Netherlands is also home to the independent record label, Runn Netherlands, which has distributed albums by journeyman acts like Prezident Brown and Daweh Congo.

Van Zanten says Dreadless's greatest ambition is to perform in Jamaica. Until then, they will keep playing the music he says is "food for the soul".

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