Reggae leader needed to spearhead movement into next decade

BY BASIL WALTERS Observer staff reporter waltersb@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, July 01, 2011    

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RENOWNED musicologist Roger Steffens is of the view that reggae is searching for a champion, someone to spearhead the movement.

Around this time last year, the American-based reggae historian stated that International Reggae Day celebrations came at a "critical juncture" as the world has grown tired of the current trend and it was "time for a resurgence of conscious music".

A year later, the noted reggae advocate, author, journalist and archivist, has not changed his position. "Today reggae still seems to be searching for a champion, someone to spearhead the movement into the new decade," Steffens told Splash via email.

By his observation, some of the "old gods" in the music have thrown away their reputations in search of a youth audience which finds nothing of value in their current works, and considers their old stuff "grandfathers' music."

Steffens added, "internationally, local interpretations and mutations of classic roots reggae are carrying the swing. But there is still an underground anxious to experience the real thing."

Having said that, Steffens shared a recent experience he had at a gig in California. "Last week, Horace Andy, who just turned 60, filled our local nightclub, the Dub Club, with an audience that was virtually all under 30, mostly Mexican-American youth, who kept him on stage for two rocking hours, singing along with him and making him feel like a kid again. So there are people out there who want to hear music with a message, and artistes who are not just spewing non-musical, obscenity-laden filth to a beat," he recalled.

"For my own part, my hands-down favourite album of the year so far is Paul Simon's world-beat masterpiece So Beautiful or So What, which is by far, his best in 25 years!"

As part of his annual lecture tours, the popular reggae observer along with wife Mary, will be off to Europe for the entire month of August. He will be playing both "The Life of Bob Marley" and "The Life of Peter Tosh" at the ska fest in Bordeaux, France, then going to the Ostroda Reggae Fest in eastern Poland, and finishing up with those two shows at Rototom, west of Barcelona to be joined by John Masouri and Colin Grant in a tribute to Peter.




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