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A Bonafide spin on a classic

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Back in the day, Teddy Pendergrass' Turn off the lights was a song that partygoers literally locked into. Recently, the Las Vegas-based Bonafide band covered the sultry number, reggae style.

The self-produced single was released three weeks ago, just before the sibling band left for shows in Hawaii and Fiji. Drummer Donovan Stephens said the idea to cover Turn off the lights came from Ricky Stevens, Bonafide's keyboardist.

“It's not just a very popular song, it's a great song. After listening to it, we thought we could do justice with our version,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Ricky Stephens also handles lead vocals on Turn off the lights. It features Micky Stevens on guitar and Wayne Stevens on bass.

It is the quartet's first release since Jamaican Girl one year ago. That song was also self-produced.

Released in 1978, Turn off the lights was written by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, principals of Philadelphia International Records, one of the hottest record companies in the 1970s.

Pendergrass, former lead singer of Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes, recorded the song at the height of his solo career. It was one of the songs that made him a massive star, and remained one of his signature pieces.

Bonafide is originally from Mount Salem, St James. The Stephens/Stevens brothers (Donovan attributes different spelling of surnames to registration discrepancies) developed their skills playing the hotel scene in nearby Montego Bay before eventually settling in Las Vegas just over 10 years ago.

While many of their dates are festivals on the United States' west coast, Bonafide's biggest base is the Pacific. They tour Hawaii, Tonga and Samoa regularly.

They have released two albums — One Wish and Reggae Time.

Bonafide are scheduled to perform at the Manchester Carnival in the United Kingdom on August 6. On August 23, they will be in Montego Bay for a charity show.

— Howard Campbell