Reggae renegades

NANAIMO: Group of musicians pay tribute to those who came before during concert

Photo contributed Rasta Reuben is one of the performers paying tribute to past reggae legends during a concert at the Port Theatre. The show is hosted by comedian Ronnie Edwards.

Photo contributed Rasta Reuben is one of the performers paying tribute to past reggae legends during a concert at the Port Theatre. The show is hosted by comedian Ronnie Edwards.

Modern reggae performers pay homage to those that came before  with a tribute concert to reggae legends.

Jamaican stand-up comedian Ronnie Edwards holds together the show, which features Rasta Reuben and Selassie iPower, Fredlocks Asher, Kaysha Lee and the House of David Gang, plus more.

Fifty Years of the Wailers is set for Sept. 21 at the Port Theatre.

Edwards brings a message of pure fun to his stand-up comedy, drawing his street-wise humour from a vast number of sources. His good-natured style is clean, cerebral and cutting-edge.

More than 15 years ago, Edwards, a former railway porter and reggae musician, sold all his musical equipment to get into comedy.

His stage act is a high-energy combination of physical comedy, impressions and observations from his West Indian background, plus some music. It’s never hostile, aggressive, or mean-spirited.

A career highlight includes a spot on CBC television’s show Comics, which drew almost a million viewers.

Reuben’s musical influence was encouraged by his father who was devoted to collecting all types of music, particularly African-American music and Jamaican Caribbean music.

In his adolescent years, the music from Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, Bunny Wailer and Jimmy Cliff had a profound spiritual and creative impact on his life and inspired him to turn his poetry into songs.

He started writing and composing songs with his musical brothers Fredlocks Asher and David (Uncle Dropsi) Phinn and honed his craft, beginning in high school where he studied the art of music and learned to play instruments.

His first major recognition was at the 1998 Canadian Urban Music Awards, where he won Best Reggae Album for his band Selassie iPower’s debut King of Kings. His next project, a double-disc album Reggae Planet, is set for release in October.

From learning to play piano at age six, to hearing her dad sing tunes from their native Jamaica, music has always been in Lee’s life. At 15, she began to nurture her singing talent through participation in gospel choirs.

Eventually, she toured Canada, the U.S. and France with the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, received a Gemini award as part of the Sharon Riley and Faith Chorale and performed at U.S. President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

At that time, Lee was also a vocal, piano and theory teacher. She credits these experiences with helping her to embark, in summer 2009, on a solo career.

Also on the bill is Toronto’s roots reggae collective House of David Gang, featuring a new generation of artists alongside founding members King Selah and Collin “Jahlin” Edwards.

Rooted in the timeless tradition of Jamaican roots reggae from the ’70s and early ’80s, House of David Gang adds a mix of jazz, funk and afrobeat to create a global reggae orchestra. The Gang takes its name from the legendary House of David after hours on Queen Street West in Toronto, where artists from the city’s burgeoning roots, rock and reggae dancehall scene would meet to jam until sunrise.

The show at the Port Theatre runs 7-11 p.m. Tickets $30; $18/youth under 18. Please call 250-754-8550 or visit www.porttheatre.com.

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