Six-string hero

Friday, March 31, 2017

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This is the third of the Jamaica Observer’s 10-part series looking at musicians who have made an impact on reggae and pop.

Of the bands that emerged in Jamaica during the last decade, Raging Fyah is arguably the hottest. They play major shows at home and abroad and have released three albums.

Their third album, Everlasting, was nominated for a Grammy Award this year.

Courtland "Gizmo" White is one of Raging Fyah’s two guitarists. He joined in 2006 and has helped enhance the quintet’s sound.

Raging Fyah — which also includes guitarist/vocalist Kumar "Kumz" Bent, bassist Delroy "Pele" Hamilton, drummer Anthony "ToniDrumz" Watson and keyboardist Demar "Demz" Gayle — will tour Europe in May and August with UB40 and The Wailers.

White took time out to talk guitar with Howard Campbell.

Howard Campbell: How long have you been playing? Are you formally trained?

Courtland White: I have been playing guitar for 42 years now. I was self-taught, by listening to music on the radio mostly.

Later on I bought books for musical theory.

HC: Who do you listen to?

CW: Santana for his Latin rock styles; Ernest Ranglin for jazz and mento styles; and Eric Gale for his soul-Caribbean styles. These three guitar players have a very unique style... When you hear them playing, you know right away it’s them.

HC: Do you and the band play the songs differently live?

CW: I would say ‘yes’. For playing live, we add some arrangements within some songs and also for linking songs together.

HC: You used to play an Ibanez. Has your sound changed since?

CW: No, I think my sound remains the same. Now I play a Steinburger Spirit headless guitar. Fender twin reverb amp, Digitech RP1000 pedal, and I have an amp and guitar settings that I stick with. I also edit the patches on the pedal I am using.

HC: Do you solo a lot?

CW: There are about four songs that I do a solo in. Sometimes it comes spontaneously, maybe in other arrangements.

HC: What does it mean to be nominated for a Grammy?

CW: To be nominated is a joy to know that our work is recognised by this board. It only shows hard work does pay off.

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