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Capleton's Performance a success at Boston's One Love Reggae HArborfest

Posted by Chimino 
Capleton's Performance a success at Boston's One Love Reggae HArborfest
September 21, 2004 06:15PM
Gee, no protests or violent incidents. Imagine that....

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BOSTON HERALD REVIW
Reggae fest gives crowd lots of Love at Pavilion
By Brett Milano | Monday, September 20, 2004

It wasn't a night for controversy at the FleetBoston Pavilion Saturday. Thanks to the dropping temperatures, it wasn't a great night for music either. Yet the producers of Reggae Harborfest once again proved that reggae package tours - once notorious for late starts and MIA headliners - can sometimes run like clockwork.

The potential snag happened last week, when word got out that headliner Capleton had recorded some hateful, anti-gay lyrics (notably Bun Di Chi Chi, roughly Burn the queers) earlier in his career. But he's since embraced the Rastafarian faith, which espouses nonviolence; and the pacifist ``Jah Jah City'' opened his set this week. No protesters turned up on Saturday, and Capleton stopped the show twice - once to explain that the burning references in his songs are metaphorical, and once to claim he's for equal rights and justice for all, black and white, pink and purple. If neither was quite an apology, it was at least more than expected.

Controversy aside, Capleton proved to be an electrifying performer with a mile-wide, eccentric streak-jumping and howling onstage in a Technicolor emperor's outfit, breaking into screams during his raps. His sound combines dancehall's rapid-fire rhymes with the deep rhythms of roots reggae. And like other artists on Saturday's bill (notably Cocoa Tea and Barrington Levy), Capleton professed a hard-core Rastafarian doctrine, preaching that Africa is the birthplace of mankind and that Ethopian ruler Haile Selassie was a deity. These beliefs, which were held by Bob Marley, weren't heard as often during reggae's dancehall era in the '90s.

A couple of performers, such as Caribbean singer Kevin Lyttle, didn't get enough time onstage to make a major impression. But Barrington Levy had a full hour to do the day's other standout set. A masterful performer with a two-decade catalog, Levy teased the crowd by having the band stop short whenever he began a hit tune, then pick it up stronger. Material ranged from the protest anthem ``Murderer'' to ``Under Mi Sensi,'' one of the few gang anthems heard in this family-friendly show.

The spirit of unity extended to the audience, which included many ex-pat Jamaicans along with a few handfuls of white college kids (likely drawn by the hippie-reggae band John Brown's Body). Despite the weather and the fact that none of the performers had hits in the United States, the show was two-thirds full.



BOSTON GLOBE REVIEW

Good vibes at reggae event bring warmth to rainy day
By Renee Graham, Globe Staff | September 20, 2004

If there ever was a day in desperate need of music suggesting warm Caribbean breezes, it was the spectacularly dreary Saturday at FleetBoston Pavilion.

Though the eight-hour One Love Reggae Harborfest couldn't quite transform the unseasonably raw temperatures into a balmy day at the beach, it injected enough island spice to keep the crowd -- far short of a sellout -- dancing well into the evening.

Love, respect, and unity were the buzzwords for the day -- not uncommon in reggae, but in stark contrast to recent controversies about homophobic lyrics by such dancehall artists as Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, and Elephant Man. Last week, Capleton was dropped from San Francisco's upcoming Reggae in the Park festival after complaints that some of his songs degrade gay men and promote antigay violence.

At Harborfest, there were no protests against Capleton, and throughout his performance, there was no clear evidence of derogatory terms or songs against gay men. Since he closed the show, he was essentially the headliner, but the evening's best set belonged to Barrington Levy.

Of course, any artist who uses as his introductory fanfare the majestic theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey" better plan on a blazing performance, and Levy did not disappoint. Backed by a tight four-piece band, Levy was in fine voice, offering such classics as "She's Mine," "Living Dangerously," "Murderer," and "Black Roses."

Unlike some of the day's other acts who relied on medleys of their greatest hits, Levy provided meaty, full-length versions of his songs, so his set felt more relaxed and satisfying. And while making clear he was not advocating drug use, he even found time to extol the virtues of marijuana over cocaine -- advice more than a few in the audience were only too happy to accept.

Another crowd favorite, especially among the college-age attendees, was John Brown's Body, which has its roots in the early 1990s Boston-based band Tribulations. With a three-piece horn section, JBB's music leans more toward ska with messages of spirituality and social uplift. The band, led by singer-guitarist Kevin Kinsella, is so enthusiastic one can almost forgive the fake Jamaican accents its members employ while singing.

Soca singer Kevin Lyttle, whose self-titled debut has been one of the year's surprise hits, offered a brief set, including his breakthrough, "Turn Me On." He was accompanied by a DJ and a backup singer, but not a live band, and real instrumentation might have helped, since Lyttle's voice is reedy, nasal, and after more than two songs, downright irritating.

More authoritative was Cocoa Tea, who in addition to his own songs, such as "She Loves Me Now," tossed in bits of Sam Cooke's "Another Saturday Night" and Harry Belafonte's "Jamaica Farewell."

With so many Caribbean artists on hand, there were numerous references to Hurricane Ivan (the chilly, drizzly remnants of which made its presence felt) and other storms that have recently devastated parts of Jamaica and Grenada. There was a booth for those who wanted to make contributions for relief efforts, while singer Chuck Fenda encouraged people to "pray for Jamaica" and dedicated his set to "hurricane victims all over the world."
jbwelda
Re: Capleton's Performance a success at Boston's One Love Reggae HArborfest
September 21, 2004 06:18PM
>``Under Mi Sensi,'' one of the few gang anthems heard in this family-friendly
>show.

huh?

next.

one love
jah bill
Re: Capleton's Performance a success at Boston's One Love Reggae HArborfest
September 21, 2004 06:21PM
sounds good, regardless of his views, I wasn't impressed with him at SN '03, I thought Cocoa Tea was in another class and should have headlined their tour, but I guess Capleton has the larger presence. Is Bongo Herman on the road with them this time ? I think I asked somewhere before, but can't remember if any one knew.
Re: Capleton's Performance a success at Boston's One Love Reggae HArborfest
September 21, 2004 06:22PM
I'm sure that supposed to read ganja Bill !
jbwelda
Re: Capleton's Performance a success at Boston's One Love Reggae HArborfest
September 21, 2004 07:39PM
oh...that didnt even occur to me. thanks bufo.

this is the regular tour, and i believe bongo herman will be with them; he was at reggae on the river anyway.

one love
jah bill
Re: Capleton's Performance a success at Boston's One Love Reggae HArborfest
September 21, 2004 11:01PM
that's the clincher.
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