Big Mountain set for tour
Big Mountain members (from left) guitarist Audley “Chizzy”Chisholm; drummer Paul Kastick; Quino McWhinney, lead vocals;bassist Mike Ortiz; keyboard Richard “Goofy” Campbell; and JamesMcWhinney vocals/percussions. (Photos: Observer file)

WITH the reggae live show scene gradually getting back on track after 18 months of COVID-19 lockdown, Big Mountain is scheduled to start a three-month tour to promote Freedom , their latest album.

The 19-date tour kicks off in Miami, Florida, on January 23 and ends on March 27 in Oakland, California.

Big Mountain did a handful of dates in the United Kingdom and their native California last summer, but lead singer/rhythm guitarist Quino McWhinney says the upcoming shows are a totally different deal.

“I am just focusing on making sure my body, and voice in particular, is healthy and ready. Trying not to spend too much time in the studio. It's hard to stay away from the studio because the creative vibes are really flowing. It's very easy to write music right now, for some reason. I think the world needs music right now as an antidote to the stress and strain,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Rock acts like The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton did major tours of the United States this year despite fears that new strains of the pandemic lingered.

Fellow California band Rebelution also headlined a US tour with Kabaka Pyramid. Freddie McGregor's Big Ship Music Festival, featuring Etana and Michael Rose, was held in central Florida in July.

In addition to McWhinney, the members of Big Mountain are his younger brother James on vocals and percussion, drummer Paul Kastick, bassist Mike Ortiz, keyboardist Richard Campbell, and guitarist Audley Chisholm.

“When you have a line-up like this one, you go on stage knowing that the show will be great and the crowd will leave feeling better than when they came,” said McWhinney. “You just want to be on stage and appreciate being amongst proud professionals. It's also very special to have my brother back in the line-up; my job on stage and rehearsals is so much easier when he is by my side. When James and Kastick are present that means I don't have to attend rehearsals. I can rest my voice and they focus on the preparation. We are a super-precise band when it comes to being prepared for the stage.”

Released in August, Freedom was mainly recorded at Anchor Studios in Kingston and produced by Delroy “Fatta” Pottinger. Sly and Robbie, guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith and saxophonist Dean Fraser also worked on the project, which is Big Mountain's first studio album since 2016's Perfect Summer.

A forerunner of 'Cali Reggae', Big Mountain formed in the late 1980s. Their breakthrough came in 1994 with a rocking version of Peter Frampton's Baby I Love Your Way, which was a top 10 hit on the Billboard pop chart.

Quino McWhinney (second left), lead singer for Big Mountain,does a rendition of the band's hit song Baby I Love Your Way, whilegroup members chime in at Anchor studio in Kingston recently.From left are: percussionist/vocalist James McWhinney; guitaristAudley “Chizzy” Chisholm; drummer Paul Kastick; and, bassist MikeOrtiz.
BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

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