Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Riddims, Rasta and Redemption: Reggae Wednesdays night 1

Inasmuch as he starred in several Pantomimes, the late Randolph "Ranny" Williams (also lovingly known as "Mas Ran") was not widely acknowledged as a singer, nor would he have been expected to have much facility with the reggae genre (he passe about 6 months before Bob Marley, but at the gae of 68)

So it was ironic yet fitting that under  the light of a new moon (and man-made props), the Centre named in his honour hosted fantastic expositions of the very essence of the reggae genre - the percussion-driven Afro-centric rhythms of the likes of Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus.

Complete with life-size screen backdrop, and full production credits, the Ranny Williams stage seemd tailor-made for the regal Ras Michael dressed in a peach caftan and trousers with immaculate white sneakers. He regaled the constantly growing audience with tracks such as "Birds in the Treetop"  "Give love" and "None A Jah Jah Children Nuh Cry"
ably supported by both his son and grandaughter, the latter a vocalistto watch in her own right.

They were preceded (and aided) by the Warrior Love band, who have been stalwarts for the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) in its annual presentations of Reggae Month, now finding, since last year, a permanent home at Ranny Williams.

Before them, the night started in rousing fashion, with the Akwaaba Drummers, comprising some of the most accomplished percussionists working in Jamaica today. A lone female dancer sought o accentuate and translate some of the energy being generated by the instruments, which included the "kitchen cabinet" a homemade percussion and multi-phonic creation of writer-musician-artist M'bala.

When this writer left, the audience had been treated to a sterling display by a unique multi-generational cast: the likes of trombone virtuoso Nambo Robinson and  drummer extraordinaire Desi Jones alongside youngsters such as Shiah Coore (son of Stephen "Cat" Coore), saxophonist Sheldon Palmer and Desi's son Joshua on bass. their expanded repertoire  took in soul (the Isley Bros. "Livin' for the Love of You") as well as r n' b (the Whispers' "And The Beat Goes On") and contemporary reggae.

Above it all, "Mas Ran" flashed a toothy, silvery grin of approaval.

The Reggae month calendar featuresa wide range of musical and other cultural events throughout february. For details, visitthe JaRIA website at

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