Kabaka's eye-opening experienceSunday, December 05, 2021
BY RICHARD JOHNSON
POPULAR local artiste Kabaka Pyramid is still relishing his experiences following his tour of the United States during which he joined British reggae veteran Steel Pulse and fellow Jamaican Keznamdi on the Good Vibes Summer Tour, organised by powerhouse American reggae band Rebelution.
The tour commenced in Fresno, California, on August 5 and ran until October 2 when it ended in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Along the way the artistes performed in cities across continental United States including Phoenix, Arizona; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Spokane,Washington; Eugene, Oregon; Salt Lake City, Utah; Las Vegas, Nevada; Austin, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland; Boston, Massachusetts; and Charlotte, North Carolina.
“It was challenging but rewarding. Just working with Rebelution was an experience in itself; we were driving around by bus and each night, just seeing how these guys go in each night and build out the stage and equipment — some Sumfest-level productions and stage — just for one night then break it down and move on to the next city. Going into areas where reggae from Jamaica does not traditionally penetrate was also an experience,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
Midway into the tour the artiste and three other members of his team contracted COVID-19 and had to pull out for 10 days.
“Touring at this time is interesting, in and of itself. As an unvaccinated team we were subject to so much testing before and after shows, depending on state, city and county laws. There were venues where we were not allowed some areas of the backstage and just had to work with the strict guidelines and protocols. After quarantine during my first show in San Diego I had a little challenge with breathing and my chest got tight, but after that things got back to normal,” he shared.
Kabaka Pyramid admitted that the tour changed his outlook on just what is possible for himself as an artiste, and reggae music in general.
“I really had to check out the whole thing. Traditionally we have looked to Europe but having done this tour I realise that we now have to make the US more of a priority. The truth is it's a major market — and an English-speaking one at that. They understand the lyrics once it is in an acceptable format, and that makes them interact with the music and artiste more readily. This is important for us on stage. On a broader level, just looking at the whole professionalism that was displayed at every level — strict enforcement of industry standards, well-defined role for workers and unions to protect them. Jamaica has a lot of work to do. And although I don't really want to compare, but there are some simple things that we could look into — things like quick band changes so that performances can be nice and tight is a place to start.