Sierra Nevada World Music Festival - 2004

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2004 Performers

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Brigadier Jerry

Robert Russell aka Brigadier Jerry will be returning to the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival again following his outstanding performance in the dancehall last year with King Stur Gav Hi Fi Sound System alongside Daddy U Roy & Sister Carol. This performance was the kind of treat the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival has become famous for: a rootical outing in an authentic Jamaican style and fashion!

While his introduction to an American audience probably came from his 1985 release of "Jamaica Jamaica" on the RAS label, the General had been building a major following in Jamaica by appearing live on the mike, first on the original King Stur Gav Hi-Fi system and later over the Twelve Tribes' Jahlovemuzik set and releasing occasional singles for the local market. Chief among these early releases were "Every Man Me Brethren" and "Dance In A Montreal", both for the foundation studio and label, Studio One. Then in 1982 he borrowed the Studio One riddim used by Slim Smith on his song "Never Let Go" to record a single called "Pain" (actually using a Don Mais produced recut of the original). Many have called Briggy's take perhaps the best use of the riddim ever and it certainly stands as one of the best songs to ever come out of the deejay style. Later he would reprise this riddim with the story telling "Jamaica Jamaica", which relates the tale of a man going in search of groceries in his homeland, only to find out the vendor "never have no sensimilla" even though they have "whole heap a green green Kasaba" and plenty more fruit and vegetables.

But his true impact would not be felt in the record shops, but in the dancehalls and lawns of the ghettos of Kingston. In fact, these local appearances served to spread his fame far and wide; surreptitiously recorded and then distributed worldwide in the form of "sound tapes", those in foreign lands thousands of miles away got a chance to experience Briggy on the microphone via these recordings and subsequent official releases of some of the same sessions.

So when he finally toured, supported by his American record company RAS, he was well received by knowledgeable fans the world over. On one such show this writer attended, Briggy, Charlie Chaplin and Sister Carol accompanied by the High Times band, drew a packed house to a venue in San Francisco, and in many's view, Briggy took it all with his sing-jay style, expressive performance and conscious lyrics, not to mention his unique rolling vocal style (you will see what that means when you witness it for yourselves!)

One thing about Brigadier Jerry, he chats pure consciousness on the mike, even when the prevalent vibe in the dance was slackness. A longtime member of the Rastafarian Christian sect "Twelve Tribes of Israel", Briggy takes every opportunity to teach the youth about righteous runnings and has recorded many tracks pointing out the error of certain ways. In fact, at some point some other deejays derided him as being too reverent, but that never seemed to deter the General from teaching the right from the wrong.

On the recording front, Briggy has released two fairly recent singles on fellow DJ Ranking Joe’s label: Ragga Muffin Dread and In the Ghetto; the latter reprising the oft-versioned Shenk I Sheck riddim to particularly good effect. One can only hope the General will be releasing more soon and a full length album release is way overdue!
- Jah Bill

Brigadier Jerry Links:

Listen To Brigadier Jerry @ SNWMF '03


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