Reggae Stars

Dandy Livingstone

KINGSTON-BORN Livingstone moved to the United Kingdom in the late 1950s as a teenager and became one of the most identifiable entertainers in the West Indian community.

Born Robert Livingstone Thompson, he excelled as a singer/songwriter and producer for over 30 years. He recorded for a number of independent labels including Blue Beat, Dice and Trojan.

As an artiste, he had UK hits such as Suzanne Beware of the Devil and Rudy, A Message to You. The latter was covered by British band, The Specials, in 1979 and is one of their biggest hits.

Livingstone's finest moment, arguably, may be as a producer. He directed Jamaican Tony Tribe on Red, Red Wine, a Neil Diamond original.

Tribe's version was a solid seller in the UK in 1969. It inspired UB40 to record another reggae version in 1983, which topped the American Billboard chart that year.

Bounty’s bro pleads guilty in St Kitts

WAYNE Price, brother of dancehall deejay Bounty Killer, pleaded guilty to larceny when he appeared in the Basseterre Magistrate's Court, St Kitts, yesterday.

Price was arrested at the Robert L Bradshaw International Airport on Saturday for allegedly stealing a customer service representative's cellphone. He was subsequently charged.

"He [Mr Price] pleaded guilty to the charge of larceny. He was fined EC$3,000 (US$1,111) approximately) and ordered to compensate the victim an additional EC$3,000," Inspector Lyndon David, press and public relations officer for the Royal St Christopher & Nevis Police Force, told the Jamaica Observer.

Price was represented by attorneys-at-law Marissa Hobson-Newman, Marsha Henderson and Greville Browne.

"The fine was forthwith, meaning he had to pay it before he left the court," said Inspector David.

Price was part of Bounty Killer's (given name Rodney Price) entourage preparing to board a flight to leave the island.

The deejay had performed on the St Kitts Music Festival in Warner Park, on Friday night. His brother had accompanied him.

According to media reports, Price was being assisted by a customer service representative at the airport, prior to his scheduled departure from St Kitts.

She left her phone on the counter. On realising the instrument was missing, she raised an alarm. A check of the surveillance camera showed Price picking up the phone.

He was accosted by the police who found the phone. Reports are that the battery and SIM card were already removed.

Price subsequently arrested.

When opera met ‘binghi

THE century-old Ward Theatre, in the heart of downtown Kingston, resonated with the sound of music Sunday afternoon.

For the second year, life came to the landmark theatre -- which is in a state of disrepair -- thanks to the studio and performing arts festival Kingston On the Edge (KOTE).

This year's event capped the festival and saw the first public presentation of guitarist Earl 'Chinna' Smith's 'Bingestra' in a programme entitled 'Opera meets Nyahbinghi', which featured the vocals of Chilean opera singer Maria Cecilia Toledo.

A cross-section of Jamaicans filled the lower level of the historic theatre, which had been specially prepared and seats repaired for the event.

For openers, actor and broadcaster Alwyn Scott's monologue personified the iconic theatre, recounting its importance to the political and cultural life of the country. He concluded by expressing the wish that the Ward should not be allowed to fade away.

This segued perfectly into the first of the fusion pieces, Toledo's interpretation of Junior Byles' Fade Away. Her classically trained mezzo voice, the potent and timeless lyrics and grounded, rootsy sound of drum and bass came together for a magical sound and set the tone for the evening.

Toledo showcased her range and dexterity as she delivered two Spanish tunes, the popular Habanera from Bizet's Carmen and an endearing rendition of the folk classic Evening Time.

However, the second half of the show went to another level.

Smith used this segment to showcase the talents of his Inna De Yard musicians. The rendition of Selassie is the Chapel was moving and showcased the spiritual side of the music. Vocalist Itral Ites earned rousing applause when he hit heady notes in Walk Away from Love, made popular by British singer Bitty McLean.

Toledo would lend her voice to Africa We Want to Go -- made popular in the early 1970s by Dennis Brown. Again, the hybrid of cultures was a treat for the ears.

This continued when Toledo did Impossible in Italian. She noted, "With 'Binghi you can sing anything". This was followed by a spirited performance of the Cuban classic Guantanamera which saw her trading guitar licks with Smith; the hymn, Joyful Joyful (which she presented in German), the jazz classic Besame Mucho; before coming full circle with Fade Away, a reminder that the Ward Theatre cannot be allowed to disintegrate.

Smith was elated following the performance. He told the Jamaica Observer: "It's part of the vision and I am so happy to share here at the Ward Theatre. Ras Michael is not with us, but we had to bring the ancient Binghi order to the people."

Toldeo was also in high spirits.

"I am so happy to discover Rasta, and the music and culture of this country and it is amazing. To work with these talented musicians here shows that there are no frontiers to this thing called music. It also shows that there should be no divisions. No uptown, no downtown, but instead one town, one country and one love."

VP storms Summerstage

AS storm clouds hovered over New York City on Saturday, hundreds of reggae and soca fans made their way into Central Park for the Summerstage concert, to commemorate VP Records' 35th anniversary.

The event's headliners were three of the independent label's top acts -- singers Gyptian, Maxi Priest and soca star Bunji Garlin.

The Massive B sound system with Bobby Konders and Jabba at the controls, pounded the venue with a variety of soca, reggae and dancehall treats, as a multi-ethnic audience danced up a storm.

A pop-up exhibition chronicling VP and reggae history, attracted a steady stream of patrons.

Representatives from VP Records, including co-founder Patricia Chin and her sons Randy and Chris Chin, were in attendance.

Even as the skies opened and drenched the venue with heavy rainfall, patrons continued to party.

Kicking off the action was Bunji Garlin who doused patrons with hits like Truck on di Road, Red Light District and Differentology.

Maxi Priest took fans down memory lane with House Call, Wild World, Just a Little Bit Longer and Close to You. The barrier at the front of the stage almost gave way, as exuberant female fans tried to reach the dreadlocked vocalist.

By the time Gyptian took the stage, most patrons had exited the venue due to the heavy downpour. Those who stayed enjoyed extended versions of Serious Times, Nah Let Go, Beautiful Lady and the Billboard hit, Hold Yuh.

Tiffany Mea, publicist at VP Records, spoke to the Jamaica Observer about the milestone event.

"This concert is the first we've done together as a label to celebrate the 35th anniversary, so it's extra special for all of us," she said.

Patricia and Vincent Chin established VP Records in 1979 in Queens, New York. The company is the largest distributor of reggae worldwide and is credited for breaking many Jamaican and Caribbean acts in the United States.

They include Beres Hammond, Beenie Man, Lady Saw, Tanto Metro and Devonte, Morgan Heritage and Elephant Man.

Baha Mar files Chapter 11

The board of directors determined that due to the financial consequences of repeated delays, a bankruptcy proceeding was the best path to put a viable capital structure in place to complete construction and open the Bahamas resort.

Apple Vacations’ Tim Mullen

Travel Weekly's Michelle Baran spoke with Mullen about Cuba, the company's first major product launch since he returned to the helm of the company at the start of the year.

Ted lags behind Jurassic

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A foul-mouthed Teddy bear is no match for a pack of dinosaurs.

Seth MacFarlane's Ted 2 opened far under expectations with US$32.9 million, according to Rentrak estimates yesterday, ceding the top-two spots to holdovers Jurassic World and Inside Out.

Ted lags behind Jurassic

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Time Unlimited still around

FOR his 1983 song, Johnny Drughead, emerging dub poet Mutabaruka teamed with journeyman harmony group Time Unlimited on what became an underground classic.

At the time, the group comprised founding member Orville Smith, Hugo Blackwood and Donavan Joseph. They are enjoying renewed interest, after 40 years since being formed in Duhaney Park, Kingston.

Love Made Us is the title of a recently released compilation album featuring songs from Time Unlimited's early years with original members Hugh Marshall, Junior Delgado and Gosford Manning.

"There's a lotta interest in the group right now from places like Japan, so the time is right for a showcase like this," Smith said.

That showcase has the song Give Love, with lead vocals by Delgado who died in 2005. There is also a cover of The Spinners' I'll be Around, done by the current lineup of Smith, Marshall and Nigel Blake.

Time Unlimited was launched in 1973 when roots-reggae was emerging from Kingston's ghettos. Initially, they recorded songs like 23rd Psalm, Run Baldhead and Repatriation for Lee 'Scratch' Perry.

These were followed by songs like Living Inna Jamaica for Sly and Robbie and Win My Love produced by Joe Gibbs. Their only album, the Dean Henry-produced Devil's Angel, was released in 1983.

Smith blames 'arrogance and bad management' for stalling Time Unlimited's progress. Though the group has not recorded regularly in the last 20 years, he insists it never split up.

"Wi always been aroun', people always want the songs inna Europe an' Japan. Once there is life, there is Time Unlimited," he said.

-- Howard Campbell

Time Unlimited still around

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