The Black Seeds, rooted in reggae

Cecelia Campbell-Livingston

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

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This is the sixth in an eight-part series on reggae bands from around the world.

THE Black Seeds are among a number of reggae bands who have rolled out of New Zealand and the Pacific in the last 20 years.

They are rated as one of the country's finest groups with a solid foothold in Europe and North America. Recently, the Black Seeds were described by Germany's Rolling Stone magazine as "the best reggae band in the world right now."

The 'Seeds' are a six-piece unit who hail from Wellington, the New Zealand capital. They started in 1998 when guitarist/vocalist Barnaby Weir was working at Radio Active, an independent radio station in that city.

According to Weir, members have always been passionate about music.

"The radio station where we worked is, and was, a vibrant musical environment," he told the Jamaica Observer. "At the time there were a handful of DJs (disc jockeys) playing and importing Jamaican music and the original members were inspired by some of the sounds we were discovering with help from those who knew and had
the tunes."

This inspired Weir, Shannon Williams and Rich Christie to start a dub, ska and reggae band.

The current Black Seeds line-up is completed by
Daniel Weetman (vocals, percussions), Jarney Murphy (drums), Tim Jaray (bass), Mike Fabulous (guitar), Nigel Patterson (keyboards), Barret Hocking (trumpet) and Lucien Johnson (saxophone).

Weir says Wellington has a thriving arts and music scene. Reggae has been popular there and in New Zealand, for over 30 years.

"The few record stores that have survived all sell reggae, ska, funk, soul, 12-inch and seven-inch records. There is a fairly vibrant DJ scene here and a strong jazz, indie live scene too," he stated, adding that the strongest areas for reggae is "more north. The more north you go, the stronger it gets".

After 15 years, the Black Seeds are still going strong but with some changes
in personnel.

"Being such a big band it was always a challenge to keep all the same guys. However, the last eight years have been pretty solid and the core of the band has not changed," said Weir.

The Black Seeds are currently working on their sixth studio album, a follow-up to last year's Dust and Dirt.

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