Music News

Giants Behind the Music: Alvin Ranglin

Alvin Ranglin was born in Eden District, Clarendon, Jamaica in 1942. He began his career in music via his District’s Adventist church choir at a really early age. He learned his trade as a radio/television repairman and started working as a technician by the time he had finished his teenage years– later graduating to repair and servicing of Jukeboxes. During this time his passion for music never waned and by the mid- 1960’s he had built and began operating GG’s Discotheque.

Alvin Ranglin

Around the same time, he opened and begun operating a juke-box sale and repair business in May Pen, Clarendon. He later added record sales and opened additional stores in the town of Old Harbor, Clarendon, Half Way Tree, St Andrew, and later Brooklyn, New York, and London, England. In 1971, he acquired the recording studio and vinyl pressing plant known as Record Specialists at Torrington Bridge in Kingston.
Ranglin began producing records around the same time he opened the May Pen store. First, producing singer Trevor Brown, and later with himself and Vernon Buckley as “Vern & Alvin” and later with Lloyd Flowers as “Flowers & Alvin”. In 1969 he established his first record label – GGs (name after the two Glorias in his life – his sister and his partner at the time)
The label produced several popular records by the duo Vern (Buckley) & Son (Gladstone Grant) – later re-named the Maytones. However, the label’s first real hit was Man from Carolina by his studio band – GG All- Stars. This was followed by several hits by the Maytones including Funny Man and Money Worries (which was included in the movie Rockers soundtrack in 1979). In the 1970’s he added Hit label which produced several hit records by both individual artists and the GGs All-Stars. Among the All-Stars hits were Flight 404, Ganja Plane, and Musical Shot. In addition to the songs mentioned, the Maytones recorded several local hits on the GGs label. Songs included a local version of Greyhound’s Black and White and Madness.
The Maytones

In the mid to late 1970s, GGs and Hit labels became home for many of Jamaica’s fledgling artists who went on to become icons in the reggae music industry. Ranglin produced a string of local and international hits with names like Eric Donaldson, Max Romeo, The Ethiopians, U-Roy, Prince Mohammed (George Nooks), Cynthia Richards, Stanley Beckford and the Turbines, Jah Thomas, Dennis Alcapone, Mike Brooks, Jah Stone, Freddie McKay, and Lone Ranger. Among the tracks that became big hits were Soldering (Beckford -1975), Hallelujah I Love Her So (Prince Mohammed-1974) and Barnabas Collins (Lone Ranger -1979). The later went on to hit the #1 spot on the British Reggae Chart in 1980.
Ranglin added Typhoon label by the late 1970s and the three labels became the home of the now legendary Gregory Isaacs. Isaacs gave Ranglin his biggest hit with Love is Overdue. He continued to work with Isaacs throughout the 1970s and again in 1995 on the album Dreaming and in 2002 on I Found Love. Isaacs attracted several of his friends to the Typhoon label – including Dennis Brown, Sugar Minott and Barrington Levy, for whom Ranglin produced a string of hits.
The labels have not produced any hit singles in recent years, but on my recent tour of the operation, I spoke with a man (affectionately called GG by his friends) who still has the passion for producing great music, and both the studio and pressing plant have been fully upgraded and ready to go.
In recent years Ranglin has branched out and has taken advantage of other business opportunities presented him. These include a Spring Water bottling plant and brand, a Bakery, Supermarket, Ice Factory & distribution. On my visit in August this year, he was close to completion of an assembly-line type bottling plant, capable of turning out between 3,000 and 5,000 bottles of product per day. As the older generation in Jamaica like to say – “Stay tuned, he is not done yet”.

Kingston12 Programming Notes

Kingston12 Digital Radio is a 24/7 reggae music channel
(It is available at kingston12.net and on TuneIn/Simple Radio Apps)
Special Programs
Weekly New Releases – Fridays (9:00 PM – 12:00 AM)
Every Friday night on Kingston12: Conscious Reggae Party host Sydney White introduces listeners to the latest reggae releases from countries around the world where reggae music is produced. Artists from Jamaica, Hawaii, Germany, New Zealand and Great Britain are regulars in the playlists. We introduce new music from new artists and the new stuff from the veterans. Remember, if it’s Friday – you will always discover something new and really special at Kingston12.net

Website Audio Player

Friday Night Dancehall Session (12:00 AM – 4:00 AM)
This is an opportunity for multi-DJs to show-off their mixing skills in classic Dancehall mixing. We keep clean, we keep it cultural.
King Viper Sound Presents: Live Dancehall Session – Saturdays (10:00 PM to 4:00 AM)
King Viper Sound System

Tune in to King Viper Sound – the US east coast #1 reggae and dancehall Sound System – heard live on digital radio at kingston12.net every Saturday night form 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM. DJ Lulu, Kevin, the Fluffy Diva and the crew take you into the real world of Jamaican Dancehall.
During this six-hour session, listeners get to enjoy dancehall music in its purest form. The play-list may range from the early nineteen sixties music to releases from the Friday prior to the air date.
The King Viper Reggae Gospel Trane – Sunday (3:00 PM to 7:00 PM)
Every Sunday Fada Lulu and the King Viper crew journey deep into the Jamaican countryside to take you “live” into the Jamaican church. The blend and mix of reggae gospel with other Caribbean and African-based religious songs are presented in a way that transport you mentally to a real Jamaican church on a Sunday night.

Introducing Zap-Pow to the Next Generation

In 2004 VH1 Cable Television channel produce a television show called Bands Reunited – hosted by Aamer Haleem (Canadian radio and television personality). The show documented attempts of reunion of formerly popular musical ensemble for a special concert. On a typical show, the crew would go out and hunt down the ex-members of the band (often at first in disguise) one-by-one, and convince them to agree for the one-time concert. Each band member was then interviewed, usually focusing on the reasons they left the band. In most cases band reunions happen because someone makes this kind of effort to put the members back together. In other cases reunions can be an excuse for desperate, sometimes “down and out” musicians to attempt to re-live the “glory days”.
The 2016 revival of the legendary reggae band Zap-Pow was different. Although these band members had been apart since 1979, they never really left each other. Over the years they played together in recording sessions and in backing bands as part of the rhythm section for some of Jamaica’s most prominent touring reggae artists. Thus for original band members Dwight Pinkney (guitar), Glen DaCosta (tenor sax), Richard “T Bird” Johnson (keyboards) and Leebert “Gibby” Morrison (bass) getting back together was as easy as saying to each other “it’s time to do this”. The most difficult decision they had to make was selecting the complement of young musicians and singers to complete the band.

Dwight Pinkney

Zap-Pow was originally formed in 1969 and had a ten-year run to 1979. During those years the other prominent members of the band included Beres Hammond on lead vocal, the legendary David Madden (trumpet) and Larry McDonald (congos). Over the years other well-known artists that performed with Zap-Pow included: Max Edwards (drums), Mike Williams (bass), Joe McCormack (trombone), Vin Gordon (trombone) Danny McFarlane (keyboards) and Cornel Marshall (drums). Among the singers who performed with the band were Jacob Miller (Inner Circle), Winston “King” Cole (Winston “Mr. Fixit” Francis) Bunny Rugs and Milton “Prilly” Hamilton (both former front men for Third World Band).
Their biggest domestic hit during the early years was a song called This is Reggae Music. The 1976 albums – Zap-Pow Now and Revolution both made it on to the UK reggae chart. Other albums recorded during the ten-year period include Revolutionary Zap-Pow (1971) and Zap Pow. They also contributed to the collections – Beres Hammond Meets Zap-Pow, Jungle Beat, Love Hits, LMS and Reggae Rules.
In the 2016 edition of the band, they have added the talented Lando Bolt (drums), Everol Wray (trumpet) and Fiona and Geoffrey Forrest on vocal. The 15-track CD titled – Zap-Pow Again produced by Dwight Pinkney was released in October 2017. It Includes eight new original songs, plus seven taken from previously released albums. The new songs were mixed by Grammy award-winning engineer – Christopher Daley (aka the Quite Giant). The remaining seven songs came from several of the group’s classic albums that featured Beres Hammond as lead singer. Songs like This is Reggae Music, World Peace 3 and Let’s Fall in Love introduced Beres to reggae music fans throughout the world.
New CD

The new album is a delight for both traditional and the next generation of fans. It highlights the strengths that brought Zap-Pow to the attention of reggae music lovers and collectors all over the world – their amazingly tight rhythm section – signature horns that are easily identifiable, plus conscious messages that defined the music of early veterans.
More on the band and its availability for bookings is accessible at: onelovemanagement.com.
Email: dwightpinkney2002@yahoo.com or davepeters1963@yahoo.com

How to Listen to Kingston 12 Digital Radio

Our 24/7 channel can be heard via the embedded player at kingston12.net, or on several models of WIFI enabled radios and mobile devices. European manufacturers such as Roberts, Grace, and Armour – manufacturers of the Q2 brand; along with domestic and Asian manufactures of all WIFI models such as C Crane, Livo, Vtech, Cobra, Sangean, Sanyo and Bose have included Kingston12 Digital Radio on their platform. Other manufacturers with Kingston12 built into their products include Bose, Grundig, Hansong, Funai, Denon, Harman, Naim, Onkyo, Phillips, Pioneer, Teac, and Russound.

Our music stream is optimized to enable easy access via tablets, cell phones internet enabled players (radios and auto dashboard) and computers. Bluetooth on devices/phones can connect seamlessly to any Bluetooth enabled auto dashboard or other devices in your vehicle.

Listen Live on Website

You may listen by typing kingston12.net in the internet browser of your Computer, Android or Apple device, and scroll to the music player on the top of the page.

Website Audio Player

Click the arrow on the player and wait a few seconds. The arrow should change and begin playing in 10 – 15 seconds.

Listen Via Audio Apps

Kingston 12 Digital Radio is available on two major radio platforms (Apps). These are TuneIn Radio and Simple Radio Apps for Android and Apple devices. Search the Apple Store (App) or Google Play (App) on your devices for these Apps and download them. Once the download is completed search the App for Kingston 12 Digital Radio and press the play button.

TuneIn App
Simple Radio App

When the station begins playing, touch the star to mark it as a favorite. This will ensure that you always return to Kingston 12 Digital Radio first, each time you use the Apps.

Listeners in Europe who still have access to the Grace Radio app can still find the station there also.

WIFI Radio

Wifi enabled radios (commonly referred to as Internet radio) are devices on which the consumer is provided the option of receiving a traditional FM transmitter signal is from the internet, as long as there is a local WiFi network connection available. The radio can pick up several hundred distant streams of local, national or international stations. It picks up local signals via the internet instead of the traditional transmitter to antenna link, thus enabling the listener to use the radio in home basements or other areas where line-of-sight reception of traditional signal was difficult to obtain.

WiFi Radio
WiFi Radio

Call letters are no longer relevant. Instead, WiFi enabled radios allow the user to search for stations (channels) via location, format or music genre. More than 400 different models are available on the market from major manufacturers such as Sangean, Grace and Logitech. Kingston 12 Digital Radio is easily search via genre (reggae) or location (USA).

Partners

Kingston12 collaborates with technology companies in the US and in Great Britain that specialize in delivering streaming audio (Internet Radio) experience from more than 100 partners to over 200 products. Kingston12 Digital Radio is available on all or most of these products. Such products include Networked Audio, Smart TV, Mobile and Tablet, Automotive, PC and Cloud Music services and game Consoles. They also include many of the new, high end stereo systems such as Bose, Denon, Onkyo, Roberts (Smart Radio), Phillips and Harman.

Yamaha WiFi Radio

Smart Speakers

Kinggston12 Digital Radio is also available on Alexa enabled Smart Speakers – Amazon Echo, Google Home, etc.  As of December 2018, Smart speakers had 41% penetration among US household – up from 21.5% the same time in 2017. Amazon Echo continues to dominate the market with 31% penetration.

Amazon Echo with Alexa

 

If you own an Amazon Echo, make sure that TuneIn Live is enabled in the App. If it is not enabled, just open the Alexa companion app on your device (IPhone, Android Phone or IPad); Go to the top-right (top left on 2 generation), select: Skills (Skills & Games) then search for TuneIn Live. Click to enable and ask Alexa to “open TuneIn Live”. Ask Alexa to play Kingston12 Digital Radio on TuneIn

 

Kingston12 HIFI: Carrying the Sound System Legacy into the Future

Kingston 12 represents the postal or zip code in West-Central Kingston, Jamaica that, along with adjacent areas of Trench Town (Kingston 13) and the south-central part of the city, was the axis of the cultural renaissance that gave the world Reggae music. It is the home of the Ambassador Theater – the place that was the flagship for presenting new talent to Jamaica and the world. The Ambassador (Bass), alongside the Majestic, Palace, and Ward theatres, provided the stages for the Vere John’s Hour. This was the talent show that introduced the country and subsequently the world to artists like Alton Ellis, Ken Boothe, Bob Marley, Don Drummond, Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker, Peter Tosh, Millie Small, Hortense Ellis, Bob Andy, Jackie Edwards, and many more of the stars that became the icons of the Reggae music industry. Kingston 12 was the “Harlem” of the Caribbean – an area that attracted artists such as Jackie Opel and Lord Creator who came all the way from Barbados and Trinidad, respectively.
These artists in late 1950s to early 1960s became the foundation of Jamaica’s Sound System Culture. As early as 1950, Tom Wong, a Jamaican of Chinese ancestry established “Tom the Great Sabastian” in East-Central Kingston. His sound system launched the career of the great Count Matchuki who later joined Clement Dodd’s Sir Coxsone Downbeat. Tom’s main rival at the time was Cyril Braithwaite’s “Count C – the Wizard of the West.” Count C dominated the western end of the city. These two sound systems laid the groundwork for the sound system culture which quickly followed Jamaican migration to England and the United States, and later provided the base for the spread of Ska, Rock Steady and Reggae worldwide.

Sound System Speakers

The sound system culture quickly spread amongst the poorer classes of Kingston and adjacent parish – St Andrew. Several new players entered the arena. The pioneers among them were Clement Dodd (Sir Coxsone’s Downbeat), Author “Duke” Reid (Duke Reid the Trojan), Vincent Edward’s (King Edward-the Giant) and Cecil “Prince Buster” Campbell’s (Prince Buster –the Voice of the People). That was around the same time Jamaican journalist, Vere John, started a weekly one-hour talent show, which he named after himself. It was a live performance showcase of fresh, young Jamaican talent. The audio of the show was recorded for a later weekly broadcast on the country’s single radio station: RJR (for Radio Jamaica & Radio Fusion)
From the beginning, there was intense competition among the sound system operators. They competed for crowds, music, and eminence in the local community. Thus, the Vere John’s talent exposition provided an opportunity to identify new talent that could enhance that competition. Few recording studios existed at the time. However, the sound system operators came to the show with the specific intent of identifying new talent that they could use to record exclusive Jamaican versions of American R & B and Jump Blues songs, or sometimes original materials that they played exclusively on their sound systems. These sound systems provided a reasonable alternative for the poorer sector of the population who wanted entertainment but could not afford to hire the live bands that existed at the time, such as Byron Lee and the Dragoneers, Kes Chin and the Souvenirs, and the Percy Myers Combo for their parties.
Leroy Sibbles – One of Kingston 12’s International Reggae Artists

This competition among the sound systems not only laid the groundwork for today’s dancehall “selector culture,” but was also the foundation upon which the entire Jamaican music industry is built. The art of toasting on records flourished during this period. This consisted of rhyming vocal patterns over instrumentals that later evolved into social commentary; it also became an important part of the entertainment. Over the years this legacy has provided roots upon which multiple Jamaican musical genres emerged – from Jamaican Jump Blues, Ska, Rock Steady to today’s Reggae and Dancehall.
Today, many young selectors and sound system operators have embraced the opportunities presented by new technologies to create modern Dancehall – substituting computer-assisted beats and instrument simulation for real instruments and live musicians. This is usually supported by computer-generated playlists via programs like Serato and Virtual DJ – replacing turntables. However, one sound system that has figured out how to master the new technology and new trends without discarding the foundation is Los Angeles, CA-based Kingston12 Hi-Fi.
This sound system is under the direction of the super talented, master DJ, rapper, singer, songwriter, musician, and Reggae/Hip Hop artist Edmund Carl Aiken, Jr. – Shinehead (Jamaican In New York fame). His partner in life and music – Diana Camacho aka DJ Papalotl aka Buttahfly – makes up the other half of the Kingston 12 Hi-Fi team who is charting the path by showing fans how to navigate both lanes without choosing one at the expense of the other.
The sound system is named after the historic LA Reggae club venue Kingston12 which was founded by Richard O’Brian, aka King Richard, a Jamaican expatriate in Los Angeles, California who operated it as part of a restaurant /nightclub establishment. He, along with his family, ran the venue they named after the community in Jamaica that they hailed from, which of course guaranteed the authenticity of the music given Kingston12’s aforementioned musical history.
The Kingston12 enterprise was also the first of its kind on the US West Coast. Richard and his family established a place where for more than twenty years Los Angeles residents and visitors were treated to live reggae performances, and/or club DJ’s playing Reggae, Dancehall, and Hip Hop music, while having an authentic Jamaican meal or mellow island drinks.

Shinehead, a British born Jamaican who was already well established in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Europe, and Japan, met King Richard shortly after he moved to Los Angeles. King Richard became ill shortly thereafter and passed away in the summer of 2014. Shortly after meeting King Richard, Shinehead quickly discovered that they both shared a musical camaraderie. He even played records on a small portable turntable for Richard as laid sick in his hospital room towards the end of his life. Although Shinehead and DJ Papalotl were away in NY performing at the time of his passing, Richard told his family that he needed someone who was committed to the music and culture to carry on the tradition he had established on the US west coast. As such, Richard’s last dying request was that his vast collection of Reggae/Dancehall vinyl records would be bequeathed to Shinehead.
King Richard

His wide knowledge of Roots, Reggae, modern and traditional Dancehall, plus his extensive experience in Hip Hop, R&B, and US rap music positioned him as the ideal candidate not only to carry on the vision of King Richard, but also to expand the foundation instituted by early forerunners Count C, Tom Wong, Clement Dodd and others – a Kingston12 legacy.
Shinehead a former major label (Elektra Records) artist inserted his brand into the Kingston12 Hi-FI concept, and in the four years since 2014, the sound system has become an integral part of world music festivals such as Rototom, Outlook, Reggae Geel, Reggae Sun Ska, and reggae music cruises – including Damian Marley’s Welcome to Jamrock Cruise.
The addition of DJ Papalotl aka Buttahfly to the Kingston12 team allows them to perform at the highest level. DJ Papalotl (a public school teacher) is a multi-media artist, a sound engineer, and a videographer with a passion and skill for mixing music. One might say she brings her “magic fingers” to Kingston12 Hi-Fi.
Her life as a DJ began at college parties and at her college radio station – KSPC 88.7 FM. Here, she developed her mixing skills in Reggae and Dancehall music. She progressed to become the “mix mistress” of the college parties and later graduated to local nightclubs –introducing them to her brand of Roots, Reggae and Dancehall, Hip Hop and R&B. Her extensive technical skills, combined with both her and Shinehead’s knowledge of Roots and modern music, has directed Kingston12‘s path to be able to perform on any stage.
Shinehead & DJ Papalotl aka Buttahfly

Long before Facebook Live was popular among users, Shinehead and DJ Papalotl made it part of their mission to use modern technology to elevate the sound system and Dancehall culture to a higher level. Their weekly presence on Los Angeles based – Diggindaily.com – a collective of local DJ using the digital space to take their music worldwide, together with live programs twice a week on Irish and Chin’s SoundChat Radio have served to expand their worldwide audience, and build an airwave audience with their English partners, Unique Radio UK in London and Stingdem Radio in Birmingham.
Their weekly live Friday night broadcast on Kingston 12 Digital Radio (Kingston12.net) gave sound system culture a presence on two of the major Digital Radio Apps for both Android and Apple products –TuneIn Radio and Simple Radio. In addition, Kingston12 Hi-Fi has also placed the sound system/dancehall culture as part of the audio programming lineup on most new V-Tuner stamped high end stereo system such as Denon, Bose and Yamaha; and on Wifi enabled radio products from manufacturers such as Grace, Sangean and Pico.
In addition to exposing the music and cultures that have provided the foundation for Reggae as an established musical genre, Kingston12 Hi-Fi has continued a sound system tradition that is not often mentioned when dancehall and sound systems are discussed. That is – identifying and launching new talents via the BUTTAHFLY FX show. Much like their forerunners Sir Coxsone, Prince Buster and more recently, Sugar Minott’s Youthman Promotion, Kingston12 Hi-Fi continues to introduce the world to new talent and give established talent a platform to show the world what they have.
In the past year, listeners were introduced to young Hip Hop talent like Banga Brownin, J Niles (the Yung Ruler – son of the late Gregory Isaacs) and were re-introduced to General Smiley of Michigan & Smiley fame. Their careful selection of the music they play, together with interviews with artists and industry practitioners like music teachers from the world famous Alpha Boys School in Jamaica have lent a public media sensibility to their presentation of dancehall and sound system culture.
In the radio business these days we often say that appointment radio is dead. However, in their presentation for a live audience and/or for digital radio, Shinehead and DJ Papalotl are making sure that this does not apply to the sound system. Audience come out to see them live or tune in to their Digital broadcast because they know they will be rewarded with great music, magic mixes and most importantly, they will learn something about the music, the culture and artists.
Kingston12 Hi-Fi continues to live up to its true name – a sound system with the usual customized built set of double scoops and tops that are almost 40,000 Watts of power. Shinehead and DJ Papalotl often take out their four sets of scoops and tops for a variety of events. These events that take place all over Los Angeles, mostly in the different cultural enclaves that appreciate international music and culture. These include the Silverlake and Leimert Park downtown Los Angeles, and at venues in adjacent Culver City. Each event is usually promoted in Social Media with a theme with the hashtag (#SoundFiSound) as part of the movement to incorporate a physical sound system with relevant cultural events and affairs that promotes public service issues such as breast cancer awareness, Jamaican cultural events; and presenting local and visiting DJ’s and artists.

IKAYA: Writing Her Name across Many Hearts

The reggae music industry is heavily male-dominated.  Throughout the years female artists like Judy Mowatt, Marcia Griffiths, Rita Marley and Carline Davis are among the very few that became “household” names.  Today there is a new group of female artists who have kicked the door wide open. Artists like Alaine Laughton –stage name Alaine, Ventrice Morgan – stage name Queen Ifrica, Shauna McKenzie – stage name Etana, Tessanne Chin and Cherine Anderson are writing their own story in reggae music. One such artist that jumps out of the bunch is a singer who I heard for the very first time 2013 when I hosted a Friday afternoon reggae show in Tampa, Florida. Her name is Kadian Blair – sage name Ikaya.

IKAYA
IKAYA

Ikaya stands out among a small group of female reggae artist and song writers who can really sing. Not women who have to purr seductively over highly syncopated tracks and auto tune – as writer Patricia Smith once note – “who writes checks with advance hype that their voices couldn’t possible cash”.   There is no screeching and snarling in her rhythms. There is no over sampling to attempt to hide anything in her voice. What she delivers is what you hear – all natural, all hers. Her songs come from the heart – odes of love and life.
Ikaya was born Kadian Blair in the heart of one Kingston’s “tough zone” called Waterhouse (also the birthplace Jamaica’s multi-Olympic gold medal winner – Shelly Ann Frazer). It is said that her parents (which include the man we call coach – Hugh “Bingy” Blair) loved R & B and classic reggae music. As a result, Ikaya began discovering her talent at the tender age of 4 – while auditioning for her pre-school choir. As a teenager she performed at various small venues and soon ventured out while still in high school with a group called B2K.  In 2001 she was introduced to the popular reggae artist Clifton Bailey – stage name Capleton, aka the Fire Man. She became a background vocalist and later opening act for Capleton – accompanying him on several world-wide tours.  She also had the opportunity to collaborate with him on one of his mega hits – a track call “Fire”.
While some might reference the influence of R & B and Dancehall music on her reggae style as “old school”, I simply call it original. It is original because it was R & B, American Jump Blues and Dancehall music combined with the African Kette drums that gave us reggae. Reggae music has its roots in the original sound system/dancehall culture – the culture of King Edwards the Giant, Duke Reid the Trojan, Count Bells the President and many others.
Today her extended list of hit singles includes enough songs for three albums. Her 2016 “Ugly Girl” and accompanying video had many in and out of the entertainment industry talking. Another 2016 hit “Love Note” is still in regular rotation on kingston12.net, and reggae formatted, digital stations throughout the world.  Other hit single include “My Man” (2015), “Write Your Name” (2010), “Broken Wings” (2013) and “Stuck in the Middle” (2016). Ikaya is a multi-talented artist with talents that include rapping/DJ which she demonstrated on two of her songs “Fly Away” and “Ain’t Giving Up”.

Her debut studio album is now past overdue, but it is in the works. She continues to write songs and record tracks for her first album –slow and deliberate like a painter doing the master piece that he/she knows will define his/her life. The album is not yet titled.  She anticipates that this album will show everyone what many of us already know – that she is a master of her craft. As she explain “All of me, my life, my experiences, love, family, friends and my surroundings. It’s an expression of my versatility compiled on one CD. My greatest joy will be that my fans and friends appreciate and have fun with it!”
Ikaya has been recognized for her early contributions to the reggae music industry with a “Best New Artist”, “Best Music Video and “Female Artists of the Year” awards. She continues to be in demand for the big shows and reggae music festivals as word of her talent gets around. She has performed for Reggae Sumfest (Jamaica), Sting (Jamaica), Jamaica Day (Canada), Reggae and R &B festival (New York) and most recently – the Grace Food & Music Festival (Washington).

Nambo Robinson: A Giant who played with Grace

The reggae music fraternity just lost another true musical genius. While he was mostly thought of as a session musician, Nambo Robinson was often part of the horn section that was responsible for making many reggae songs into mega hits. He was a veteran trombonist, all-round musician, vocalist, percussionist and a true professional. He was the ultimate teacher and musicians’ and artists’ musician.
Nambo was born in 1949 in east Kingston, where he began his musical journey playing with the legendary Mystic Revelation of Rastafari band. In the late 1970s he played on several of Bob Marley’s hit albums, including Survival and Confrontation and Buffalo Soldier. He was a member of Jamaica’s top reggae band – Lloyd Parks and We the People for many years. His resume also includes stints with bands such as The Tony D’Acosta Affair, The Boris Gardener Happening and Light of Saba.
He later became a founding member (with his brother from another mother – Dean Fraser) of the 809 Band, which also included singer Desi “Desi Roots” Young and bassist Michael Fletcher. He also played and toured with Sly and Robbie’s Taxi Gang – playing on several of their mega hits with artists such as The Tamlins, Black Uhuru and the late Jimmy Riley.
In addition to Marley, throughout the years Nombo has recorded with most of the top recording artists in Jamaica. These include Dennis Brown, Jimmy Cliff, Gregory Isaacs, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Beres Hammond, Shaggy, and Buju Banton. His international credits include live performances with Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and The Four Tops, and recording sessions with Lauryn Hill. Nambo was as comfortable on the stage playing Jazz and R & B, as he was playing reggae.
He recently launched a series of live stage shows that feature young Jamaica musicians.  The project was designed to showcase young talented musicians while celebrating the various genres of indigenous music such as Mento, Ska and Rocksteady.
Robinson released four solo albums/CDs, titled “Reggae in my Bone”, “Nambone Ska”,” Nambo Sing and Play” and “Raw Roots Rock Reggae”.
Ronald “Nambo” Robinson died peacefully in his sleep on the early morning of January 25, 2017. He was only 67 years young. He is survived by his wife Marcia and three children.

KING VIPER SOUND: Carrying on the Dancehall Tradition

kv-crew-at-workThe tradition of Jamaican dancehall Sound System has often been referred to as a kind of mobile disco. The “dancehall disco” was the linchpin for the development of the entire Jamaican music industry – which today has evolved into reggae and modern dancehall genres. These “mobile discos” actually gave rise to the country’s recording industry. The first local disc pressing plants were set up to press American and British records for Sound Systems. Similarly, the first locally produced discs were produced for the Sound Systems.
The late fifties saw a significant increase in both the number of Sound Systems and discs producing outlets. Jump Blues from the United States was the dominant music played at the time. Artists like Fats Domino, Rosco Gordon and Balladeer Johnny Ace dominated the Jamaican dancehall. The dominant Sound Systems at the time was Tom the Great Sebastian (the original home of the great Count Machuki) and V-Rocket. By 1960, the Sound System phenomena had expand to include major players Vincent Edwards – King Edwards the Giant; Clement Dodd’s – Sir Coxsone Downbeat; Arthur Reid’s – Duke Reid the Trojan and later Cecil Campbell’s – Prince Buster the Voice of the People. The large Sounds cultivated protégés such as Dr. Dickey’s Dynamic (the original home of the great U-Roy and King Tubby), Supertone the Ambassador, Count Bells the President, Prince Lloyd the Matador and Sir Nyah the Conqueror.
The establishment of local production facilities in Jamaica – first Stanley Motta and later West Indies Records (WIRL) launched Jamaica into the record production business – at first for Sound System operators only, and later for consumers. Records were initially produced with blank second (flip) sides or instrumental version of the song on the flip side. This gave rise to toasting as the DJs quickly learned to “ride the rhythm” on the flip side. Count Machuki is credited as the originator of this concept.
Throughout five decades, Jamaican music has evolved through several genres – from Jamaican Jump Blues, to Ska, Rock Steady and now Reggae and Modern Dancehall. However, throughout these decades, the concept of real Dancehall has remained constant. The huge oversize speakers – usually in an outdoor space with DJs that incorporate a kind of African call-and-response in their toasting as they “ride the rhythm” defined what dancehall is all about.
Today, King Viper Sound – a Sound System based in Washington DC area of the United States takes the history and the cultural phenomena that characterized dancehall culture very serious whenever they play. Owner and Technical Director Tony Armstrong (Father Lulu) and son Kevin, plus a team of DJs and selectors provide local and regional dancehall fans on the US east coast with a true taste of what music use to be like back in the day when Sound Systems competed for the title –“King of Jamaican Dancehall”. They have built multiple sets, which allow King Viper to perform in multiple settings simultaneously.
Armstrong was introduced to the Sound System during his formative years while living in Jamaica. He actually ventured into the business in 1973 when he built his first system – Lulu’s HiFi playing for house parties and helping to sow the seeds for Ska and Reggae as a prominent music genre the Washington area. Over the years he has remained an integral part of the Washington – Metro area Sound System scene, either as an operator or as sound engineer for one of the prominent sets. This period included time with Emperor Sound and at the Turntable and the Hummingbird – two of the first nightclubs in the Washington area that featured a format of predominantly reggae music.
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King Viper can be heard live on digital radio at kingston12.net every Saturday night form 10:00 PM to 3:00 AM as they take real Jamaican Dance to the World. During this five-hour session, listeners get to enjoy dancehall music in its purest form. The play-list may range from the early nineteen sixties to the Friday prior to the air date.
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As Armstrong describes it – Each week they use the music to take listeners into the heart of the places – to “meet” some of the players that to a large extent, define Jamaican culture. King Viper’s main objective is to enable listeners to feel like they are actually there in a space with no walls, surrounded by large, oversize speakers, great music, and good vibes.
Listeners at home can move their furniture to one side, call up friends and have a dancehall session. Armstrong describes King Viper Sound really simple….”a Sound System that plays reggae music with a calming vibe, that is conscious, but can sometimes hit hard’. But as the great Bob Marley once said “when this music hit you will feel no pain”.

January 2019 is Buju Banton’s New Release Date

Tampa Bay journalist Patty Ryan, staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times has reported that lawyers for Jamaica’s reggae star Buju Banton (Mark Myrie) has made a new deal with the state prosecutors which will enable the artist release from US prison in January 2019. Under the new deal, pending gun charges which could have added an additional five years to his sentence will be dropped. In return the artist and his attorneys will cease filing appeals. The US District Court Judge James S. Moody, Jr. approved the settlement.
Banton and his attorneys made several attempts to have the original verdict overturned via appeals only to have the case returned to state court in Tampa, FL each time. He is presently serving his time at the McRae Correctional Facility in McRae, Georgia (located in Tefair County – 33 miles southwest of Vidalia). Additional details on this prison location is available at the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ inmate locator website at www.bop.gov/inmateloc/

Original Bad Boys are back

Inner Circle, the original bad boys of reggae music are back with an 8-track EP on their original Tenement Yard Riddim.  It features several artists including – Chronixx, Jesse Royal, Bugle, Assassin, Tanya Stephens and Daniel (Bambaata) Marley. The instrumental mix of Tenement Yard is worth the price of the album. The EP was released on April 21 on the DubShot Records/Sound Boy Entertainment label. They have also released a new slamming, reggae version of Snoop Dogg, Bruno Mars & Wiz KhalifaYoung, Wild & Free. The cut features I-Octane and Peetah Morgan (of the Heritage clan)