It’s rare that some of the biggest and most influential artists in Jamaican roots reggae would appear in Sacramento in a single month – but that’s currently the case as Israel Vibration, The Roots Radics, Mykal Rose and The Wailing Souls are all scheduled to perform in the capital city.
Israel Vibration pretty much epitomizes the classic roots sound that emerged from Kingston in the mid to late 1970s: socially conscious lyrics delivered with passionate harmony singing atop thick, drum and bass dominated rhythms. Originally a vocal trio, Israel Vibration is now a duo consisting of Lascelle “Wiss” Bulgin and Cecil “Skelly” Spence. The singer/songwriters met as kids when they were both receiving treatment at a polio rehabilitation center. Bulgin and Spence started out singing in the streets of Kingston for tips and got so good that a branch of the Rastafarian religion, The Twelve Tribes of Israel, agreed to fund the group’s first recording sessions. Israel Vibration is scheduled to perform at The Assembly on K Street in Downtown Sacramento on Sunday, August 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Bulgin and Spence will be backed by The Roots Radics – a group of Kingston-based studio musicians who played on nearly all of the best dancehall-oriented reggae produced in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, both in the studio and live on stage. The list of singers the Roots Radics have supported includes: Gregory Isaacs, Bunny Wailer, Mikey Dread, Barrington Levy, The Viceroys and Yellowman. Bassist Errol “Flabba” Holt, who co-founded the Roots Radics with drummer Lincoln “Style” Scott and the late guitarist Eric “Bingy Bunny” Lamont, still leads the group.
Another vocal group that helped define Jamaica’s roots sound in the late ‘70s is The Wailing Souls. The group started out as a quartet, has seen various lineups since forming in the mid 1960s and is now a duo comprised of Winston “Pipe” Matthews and Lloyd “Bread” McDonald. You can catch them as part of the sixth annual One Love, One Heart Reggae Festival along the Garden Highway in Sacramento from August 29 to 31.
From their earliest days in the late ‘60s recording for Studio One (which many have called Jamaica’s version of Motown Records) and their rock-solid work in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s with Sly & Robbie and the Roots Radics to their Grammy-nominated major label (Sony) recordings in the early ‘90s, Matthews and McDonald have retained their integrity with militant, righteous lyrics and soulful, heartfelt singing.
Another major player appearing at the festival will be Mykal Rose (AKA Michael Rose). The singer hit the world stage as the lead vocalist of Black Uhuru, a group that received a big promotional push by Island Records as the next big thing in reggae after the death of Bob Marley in 1981. Hailing from the Waterhouse district of Kingston, Rose possesses one of the most distinctive voices in reggae. He’s also one of the music’s most prolific recording artists with nearly 30 albums to his name and countless 7-inch singles.
Capital Public Radio Music celebrates what promises to be a bountiful month of great reggae concerts with the following mix:
The Ethiopians “Reggae Hit the Town”
The Wailing Souls “Jah Give Us Life”
Israel Vibration “Rude Boy Shufflin”
Michael Rose “No Burial”
Roots Radics & King Tubby “More Dub”
Horace Andy “Just Say Who”
Joy White “Dread Out Deh”
Winston Francis “I Kill the Devil Last Night”
Hollie Cook “Tiger Balm”
Black Uhuru “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”
Chronixx “Here Comes Trouble”
K. Vibes “Reggae Music”