Stars set to shine

Stars set to shine

Observer senior writer

Monday, February 18, 2019

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When Marvin “Horseman” Pitterson kicked off his Stars R Us series in October 2000, the rocksteady revival that began in the early 1990s was still in full swing. That resurgence has waned considerably with the deaths of many stalwart artistes, but he believes the need for these shows is even more critical.

The latest Stars R Us takes place next Saturday at Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in Kingston. Jack Radics, Josey Wales and Admiral Bailey are among the headliners.

“There is still a market for what we call vintage music because it works and we have a loyal audience, jus' like dancehall music,” he said. “Promoters of some of the bigger shows can mix up dem thing an' use some of these artistes 'cause they are still good.”

At the height of the rocksteady/roots-reggae renaissance, major shows like Sting, Reggae Sunsplash and Reggae Sumfest cast a number of artistes from those eras, including Alton Ellis, Ken Boothe, Leroy Sibbles, Hopeton Lewis and The Melodians. Boothe and Sibbles remain busy but Ellis and the original Melodians have died, leaving a handful of artistes from the 1960s who are still active.

In recent years, Pitterson has used his “mix up” policy effectively, calling on roots-reggae acts from the 1970s and dancehall stars from the 1980s to appear on Stars R Us. Boothe, Admiral Bailey, Johnny Clarke and Ernest Wilson performed at the last show in March 2017 which drew a strong crowd.

The evergreen Boothe, Big Youth, The Tennors, Carl Dawkins, Tony Tuff, Admiral Tibett, Derrick Morgan and Paul Elliott are also on next week's show.

With Jamaica's government celebrating the 50th anniversary of reggae's birth this year, Pitterson stressed the importance of a younger generation becoming familiar with the music's pioneers.

“There are some of dem (artistes) out there who tell me dat dem don't work in a long time, an' dem can still do dem ting, is jus' people have to reach out. Not a lot of people here know sey di Tennors still around, but mi find dem,” he said.

While veteran artistes perform sporadically in Jamaica, they are still in demand throughout Europe and North America. Boothe, Derrick Morgan, Big Youth, Toots and The Maytals, Lee “Scratch” Perry, The Wailers, Marcia Griffiths, Horace Andy and Johnny Clarke, perform consistently on the European and US West Coast festival circuits.

Best known as the unofficial racetrack photographer at Caymanas Park, Pitterson has been around the music scene for over 35 years. His older brother, Karl Pitterson, is an audio engineer and producer who worked on classic albums including Bob Marley's Kaya, and True Democracy by Steel Pulse.


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