Archive for Concert Reviews

Review: Tarrus Riley’s music is not only “Contagious,” but highly addictive

Tarrus Riley, a 30-year-old Jamaican-American and son of reggae legend Jimmy Riley (The Uniques), captivated San Diego reggae fans with an energy-packed performance inside the Belly Up Tavern on Feb. 23.

Local favorite, Stranger band opened the show at 9:10 p.m. and performed songs from their latest EP, “Some Kinda Sign,” including the slow and rhythmic, “The Only One.”

Legendary reggae saxophonist, Dean Fraser with the Blak Soil band, played an impressive 10-minute set featuring Sherieta Lewis, a back up singer for Tarrus Riley.

Opening with “Lion Paw” from the highly acclaimed 2006 “Parables” album, Riley set the tempo and engaged the audience immediately.  Fans responded with by waving fist-pumped arms in unison.

Riley was dressed casually in jeans and a black t-shirt under a green military-style jacket, with a Haile Selassie photo pinned to the front.  His locks were pulled back in a ponytail and he was wearing semi-rimmed glasses that accentuated his good looks.

The crowd yelled and clapped when Riley performed “Start A New,” an empowering message to women currently in violent relationships, encouraging them to “cut it off.”

Keeping with the upbeat tempo, the Blak Soil band began playing the “Coming in from the Cold” riddim, and Riley began singing the hit “Love’s Contagious.”

The crowd went wild, dancing and singing along.

Impressing fans with his strong knowledge and familiarity of non-reggae music, Riley began an a capella version of Tracy Chapman’s “Sorry,” pointing the microphone to crowd who were singing louder than he.

The show’s biggest moment was the battle between Riley and Fraser – vocals versus saxophone (above).  Riley, confident that his vocal pieces couldn’t be duplicated, was surprised by Fraser’s skills.

The staged battle was the intro into the mega hit “She’s Royal.”

Tarrus Riley signing autographs and mingling with fans

Like most reggae artists, Riley took advantage of the intimate Belly Up Tavern setting, by meeting and thanking fans at the end of the show.  His friendly and welcoming personality made the show even more of a success. Riley was very gracious with his time, having his photo taken with fans and signing autographs.

San Diego is home to a small Caribbean population, but reggae is big in the heart of many non-Caribbeans here.  Nothing short of an excellent performance, Riley impressed the crowd, regardless of who was in attendance.

Tarrus Riley is what reggae needs, positive music, providing uplifting messages of hope and unity, while denouncing violence and participating in rivalries.

Mz. Jackson


‘Legends concert success without Capleton

The 29th Tribute to the Reggae Legends honored David Isaacs (toured with the Itals) and Vivian “Yabby You” Jackson, co-emceed by Makeda “Dread” Cheatom, Director of the WorldBeat Center and Dj Carlos Culture.

Despite a weak economy, especially for the entertainment industry, the Sports Arena was nearly filled to capacity, a vast improvement from last year’s concert.

Foundation artists such as Don Carlos and The Twinkle Brothers along with San Diego favorites, Barrington Levy and Eek-A-Mouse (a last minute add), lured concert goers to pay $40 seats ($50 day of) and $61 for floor ($71 day of) access.
“This was the best reggae festival…ever!,” Michael Soto said.

“This is my seventh time attending the festival and each year it has gotten bigger and better,” Soto said.

The crowd favorites were Levy and the tardy Eek-A-Mouse.

Levy energized the arena with hits including, “Murderer,” “Only You,” and an a capella version of “Under My Sensi.”

Don Carlos [below] (former lead singer for Black Uhuru) and The Twinkle Brothers, each frequently performing at San Diego reggae venues, had solid performances and once again proved why they are legends in their own rights.

Don Carlos backstage at the Tribute to the Reggae Legends

Some fans didn’t think the concert was worth the admission costs due to the cancellations of dancehall artist Capleton and lovers rock crooner, Cocoa Tea.

Not realizing that Capleton wasn’t performing, Guyton Higgins, 26, from Jamaica, was disappointed.
“I paid $71 only to see Capleton,” continued with “They should have a cancellation sign at the box office window,” Higgins said.

Subscribers to the WorldBeat Center’s website were alerted of the line-up change and the disclaimer on the website stated “Line-up schedule subject to change.”

Capleton fell victim to the ongoing efforts of the gay community’s continuing campaign to silence reggae artists performing songs promoting violence against gay people. Cocoa Tea, currently touring with Capleton, was an innocent bystander due to his dependence on shared resources with Capleton.

Both were scheduled to perform at the sister concert of the Tribute to the Reggae Legends, the Ragga Muffins Festival on Feb. 21, in Long Beach, CA.  As of today, Capleton has been removed from the line-up and Cocoa Tea is slated to perform.

Other complaints included, lack of notice of the cancellations, artists performing mainly roots and culture,  similar past line-ups and of course the smoke.

“Stranger”, Becomes Familiar

The last time I went to Canes’, Junior Reid, formerly of Black Uhuru performed in front of a sold out crowd.

Stranger Performing at Canes' Bar and Grill

Stranger Performing at Canes' Bar and Grill

Stranger not only equaled the capacity, but brought stronger vibes. They are no stranger to San Diego as most of the crowd was singing to most songs that were performed.

The band has seven members, Nolan Clark (drums), Daniel Montgomery (guitar), David Ornelas (lead vocals), Arthur Tilley (bass), Ian A. Young (keyboards), Aaron Hudson (saxophone) and Don Carter (trombone and not present).

Daniel Montgomery said their music is “a soulful, reggae, mixture,” when asked to describe their music. Wanting to be different, they classify their music as “Soul Cal” reggae fusion, differentiating themselves with from the genre “SoCal,” which is associated with Sublime.

I heard the difference. One moment a roots rhythm was playing and soon you’d hear the sax blend in seamlessly. The music was great and Ornelas vocals were melodic and in pitch, perfectly with each song.

When asked why the name “Stranger,” Ornelas said, “being different stuck out…or maybe not.”

Watch as Stranger performs “My Angel.”

Mz. Jackson