Dubtonic happy with US tour ... promises comeback for Plug 'N' Play
Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter
Currently on a tour of the United States (US), Dubtonic Kru is already pleased as the group was one of two Jamaican acts to be featured on South by Southwest Conference and Festival.
The band kicked off its US tour in Chicago, Illinois, on March 14 and followed with the Wildfire Reggae Festival in Austin, Texas a few days later. However, one of the biggest accomplishments since the start of the tour was the group's appearance and performance at South by Southwest (SXSW). This is a set of film, interactive and music festivals and conferences that take place every spring (usually in March) in Austin, Texas. SXSW began in 1987, and has continued to grow in size every year.
"It was good. It was a great musical conference and festival for all genres of music. It was a great place for exposure and networking. It was a chance to meet and greet people from all over the world. It's one of the world's biggest music concerts," said Jubba White, a member of the band.
To be included in the concert, groups or individuals send applications, but this does not mean an automatic acceptance.
According to White, Dubtonic Kru did not have to apply, they were sent an invitation.
"We were actually invited. It is a great feeling 'cause what people have been watching is our progress and our contribution to the industry and saw it fit that this is something that we should be part of. We feel good, we feel honoured," he said, noting that Protoje and his Indiggnation Band was also present at the event.
Their participation in the festival comes after being given a congressional proclamation from the congresswoman in New York at the Reggae Culture Salute that was put on by Coalition to Preserve Reggae Music in November.
With 17 shows left in places like Wisconsin, Ohio, Missouri, Alabama and Iowa, White said he is optimistic about what else is left.
"We are looking forward to a great tour 'cause it started nicely. It is no easy work, it's a lot of challenges. We are doing this on our own. I know Jamaica still doesn't know the impact, but we are touching some areas and leaving some waves," he said.
White said the band has even made an impact in states that reggae and dancehall music are not usually popular.
"It's great. In Minneapolis and Madison, we will be playing to sold-out shows. When we get back to Austin, I think we are going to have some good following because of the impression we left there. Every single day we have been doing radio interviews," he said.
"Mi nah go tell yuh seh every show we do sold-out but for the greater part, we really gained a whole heap of traction. We have been fairly good ambassadors based on the reviews that we have been getting."
After the tour ends on April 28, White said they will return to Jamaica to complete their album, Evolution. With the songs complete, he said the group will select the tracks that will be included in time for a release scheduled for the last quarter of this year.
But even before the album is released, White said Dubtonic Kru will have performances in Eastern Europe, Japan, India and the United States.
Also on the agenda is the possible resumption of the popular Plug N' Play event that was a regular fixture at Wyndham Kingston hotel's Jonkanoo Lounge.
"Plug N' Play will return. It is not dead. All of what we were doing, so far, was out-of-pocket. It became strenuous, so we just decide seh wi ago tek a likkle break," White told The Sunday Gleaner.
"It soon come back, and we promise that we will try to make it bigger and better. However, we are appealing to corporate entities to put more support behind the industry."
Dubtonic Kru Coming Your Way
We have been vibing November 5th for quite some time and now the grand march to that day has begun. November 5th marks the 7th staging of Reggae Culture Salute and the grand march is the educational campaign that precedes the day when we channel and celebrate that unique relationship between reggae, rasta, Selassie and Jamaica. This year's show is a salute to the future of roots reggae and presents several artists that are among the finest in the business. We are especially proud of introducing Dubtonic Kru to the northeast. Earlier this year, Dubtonic Kru competed with over 4,000 bands of various genres worldwide and journeyed to Malaysia for the finals where they walked away as the champions of the world.
Many are calling Dubtonic Kru the "Usain Bolt" of roots reggae music and deservedly so. Their music reflects the positive vibration that endeared reggae music to its worldwide audience and their accomplishment is equal to that of "Usain." We urge you to support this collaboration between CPR, Dubtonic Kru and others in any way you can; tickets, merchandize, memorabilia etc. The event is very reasonably priced and all proceeds benefit CPR.
Mark your calendar for November 5th and bring the family for this gala occasion when we salute the future of roots reggae music.
Carlyle McKetty, President
Coalition to Preserve Reggae Music
The revival of the band and live music in Jamaica
Reggae music is often about solo artists rather than bands or groups, especially in recent years. But something has happened. Live music has had resurgence in popularity in Jamaica, several bands have formed and they’re touring the world. Reggaemani has talked to The Uprising Roots Band and Dubtonic Kru to learn the story behind the upswing.
Reggae bands in Jamaica have always been around in one form or another. One of the earliest examples being The Skatalites, a band that later transformed into several different outfits – The Supersonics and Sound Dimension being just two examples.
In the 70’s other bands emerged, often with a somewhat loose line-up. Members played in several different constellations and changed names depending on the producer or label that hired them.
These bands were often backing or studio bands without a regular singer.
When reggae was digitalized in the mid 80’s the need for bands and “real” musicians decreased. The riddims were laid using keyboards and drum machines instead of using real bass and drums.
Now things might have changed. According to a recent interview Reggaemani did with Ray Darwin roots is back. And with that said, bands are back.
“People want more roots. Everyone’s going back to the roots, they see the value of roots reggae. Dub roots from Jamaica. There’s a new era of musicians graduating from the Edna Manley College. Really amazing musicians,” he said to Reggaemani.
And there are several bands active in Jamaica at the moment; some of them have been playing for many, many years.
A new cycle
Deleon “Jubba” White formed Dubtonic Kru about 15 years ago with Strickland Stone. He and his fellow band mates recently won the Global Battle of the Bands where they were up against 17 other countries.
L-R - Deleon White, Omar Johnson, Strickland Stone, Luke Dixon and Horace Morgan.
“Well, you see, the music industry is a cycle. It’s a new wave of what’s happening now,” says Jubba on the phone from Poland where the Kru recently finished their Celebration tour, and continues:
“Conscious music is at the center stage again. Youths are involved in this movement. But it’s not necessarily the end of the dancehall cycle. And I don’t want to see an end. It’s all about the evolution of the music. Variety is the spice of life,” he laughs.
Rashaun “Kush” McAnuff is the drummer in The Uprising Roots Band and was literally born into the music business as the son of vocalist and recording artist Winston McAnuff. He and his band have been playing together since 2006 and put out their debut album Skyfiya earlier this year.
Kush says he loves foundation music and positive music, and he seems happy about the resurgence of bands and live music in Jamaica. He describes the factors behind the upswing:
“It’s about revival. The youths don’t pay attention to where reggae is coming from. It’s a call for righteousness and awakening.”
Equality and family
Being in a band means equality. And when talking to Kush it’s obvious that The Uprising Roots Band has a “no man is an island” mindset.
The Uprising Roots Band. L-R - Lloyd Palmer, Ruel Ashburn, Joseph Sutherland and Rashaun McAnuff.
“Each person is a sound. No one is higher than anyone else. Equality in the group is important. It’s about teamwork and everyone is important. We’re not a band, we’re family.
Jubba also mentions the family analogy and adds that a common goal is important too.
“Me and Stone have played together for about 15 years, but other members have changed. We have a common goal – love and passion for music. We’re like a family. A family that plays together stays together,” explains Jubba.
The Kru promotes live music
Jubba and his Kru are heavily involved in the live scene in Jamaica and have worked hard to promote it. Mainly through the yearly concert Bands Incorporated and the regular Friday night show Plug ‘N Play.
“We started Bands Incorporated about five years ago. It features upcoming bands and older bands. Not so much solo artists,” explains Jubba, and continues:
“Plug ‘N Play takes place on Friday nights at the legendary Jonkanoo Lounge at Wyndham Hotel in Kingston. It features as many young artists as possible. We give them a stage and a practice session to increase their live skills. Peer them with older artists.”
Several experienced artists have been part of the Plug ‘N Play format to help the younger ones. Some of these being Toots Hibbert, Capleton, Chuck Fender, Ken Boothe, Gyptian and Protoje. An impressive list to say the least.
“You name them, they’ve probably been there,” states Jubba, and continues:
“Some dancehall artists have come through the show. But it’s about uplifting music. You have to respect the standard of Plug ‘N Play. But it is has not anything to do with segregation. It’s about clean vibes.”
“A new generation of musicians from Jamaica”
Another factor that might have something to do with the recent upswing is the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.
“I’m a past student and Edna Manley College did a lot for me, alongside touring and being on the road. It created a good balance for me,” says Jubba, and continues:
“The level has increased. The students are able to bond and practice. There’s a new generation of musicians from Jamaica,” he believes and concludes:
“The number of bands will definitely increase. We are contacted every week. It’s shocking and motivating.”
Dubtonic Kru, Dubskin and Toots and the Maytals Close Out Roots, River, Reggae Fest
By Brett Buckles
Fresh off a momentous win at the 2010 Global Battle of the Bands competition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Dubtonic Kru stopped off at State Bridge as part of their US and European Celebration Tour. Drum-and-bass (dub) duo, Jubba and Stone, along with the rest of the Kru, didn’t just stumble upon success. They’ve been working diligently, honing their modernized roots reggae sound as a hard-hitting up-and-coming group rising to the surface within the ocean of Jamaican musicians.
Drummer Jubba White took the time to discuss with ReggaeMovement what the GBOB win has done for the group. “For the reggae community, it gave something to celebrate, as during that same period a lot of negative press was being circulated about… For us—Dubtonic Kru—this win provided a wider audience and a level of pride that also proves that hard work pays off. We did this independently, and so far, are still independent.”
Dubtonic’s signature sound of heavy bass lines and solid one-drops are meshed with psychedelic guitar riffs from Jallanzo, trance-echoing keyboards by Luke and conscious lyrics and popping percussion from Kamau. The Kru rocked out their repertoire of originals including top singles, “Sunshine Girl,” and “Born Jamaican.” Other tracks highlight the on-point dub duo like “World Crisis,” “Balance,” and “Natty Dread.” Watching this group perform is as entertaining and uplifting as listening to their sound. The enjoyment of performance radiates from the band. The crowd feeds from the vibes and sends the positivity full circle: The epitome of live performance. “Music is a very important part of our lives,” Jubba said. “It is like air that is needed in everyone’s daily life. It's only natural then that when you have the gift to provide to others you do it with passion.” It only takes the attendance of one show before you’re a true Kru follower.
Dubtonic Kru represents a bright future
Larry Leiber for ReggaeMovement.com
A few weeks ago, a story circluated discussing the current state of affairs within the Jamaican reggae world. (read whole story here) To expand on that concept, as some artists have rested on laurels and embraced a sense of entitlement, regions outside of Jamaica have stepped in and truly expanded the genre to a new global direction and raised all ships in the process.
Generally, the knock on the music offered from the rock has emanated from the overproduction of electronic music which has masked much of the variety and experimentation that used to personify the reggae genre.
Dubtonic Kru, who played Denver this past weekend, represents a new breed of reggae music. Experimenting throughout with a spacey version of dub that is still steeped in roots, Dubtonic Kru pleasantly blends together the modern dub genre with the roots from yesteryear.
Coming from different parts of Jamaica, the members of Dubtonic Kru, individually have been exposed to a variety of musical genres. With their unique sound, the founding members “Jubba” and “Stone”, a dynamic Drum & Bass duo, have contributed to the development of modern Roots Reggae which intertwines Jubba’s mesmerizing Reggae/Jazz Fusion drumming with Stone’s groovy, yet pulsating bass lines.
Sounding much like an American reggae band if that band were to have its roots in Jamaica, Dubtonic Kru has certainly embraced the new direction in reggae and in fact has shown evidence that the evolution of reggae in Jamaica has yet to run its course.
Although relatively new, Dubtonic Kru has a sound that is both familiar and comforting. With songs like “Sunshine Girl” and “Born Jamaica,” the band has a hit sound that offers emotion and variety; and with a hard work ethic and refreshing outlook, Dubtonic Kru’s future is bright.
Dubtonic Kru, Best New Band in the World...added to EME Awards line-up
Published: Friday | March 4, 2011 THE GLEANER Jamaica, West Indies
Dubtonic Kru, who won 'The Global Battle of the Bands Competition' in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and have earned the title of Best New Band in the World is the latest addition to the impressive list of EME performers.
"I wish to congratulate Dubtonic Kru on their remarkable and significant win in Malaysia this year, and am very pleased to announce that the group will take their victory celebration to the EME Awards stage. No one should miss this milestone moment," said EME Founder and Chairman Richard 'Richie B' Burgess.
"I feel doubly happy, since the EME Awards this year is actually introducing for the first time, the category 'Best Instrumental Group with Vocals,' as a means of encouraging bands like Dubtonic Kru to gain even greater respect here at home," he noted.
With just under two weeks left before the much-anticipated 7th Annual Excellence in Music and Entertainment (EME) Awards unfolds at Devon House (on Saturday, March 12), Burgess said preparations are well advanced and the marketing campaign is going very well.
"I am confident that we will be able to put together a very entertaining, first-class production that will rival the best events of its kind in the world" he said.
The 2011 EME's will feature live performances from American rappers Eve and Trina, as well as Jamaica's very own Jah Cure, Elephant Man, Bounty Killer, Lady Saw, Etana, Wayne Wonder, Tifa, Andrew Tosh, No-Maddz, Toya, Kahlil and Leba Hibbert who are all preparing to heat up the stage.
The EME will be streamed live at www.jamaicans-music.com to thousands of reggae lovers all over the world (including Jamaica) who will not be able to attend the event in Kingston.
"We are so excited to be able to offer this service to the thousands of music lovers globally who are unable to attend the event. By offering this service, we are taking a leadership role in bringing quality Jamaican entertainment right into the homes of music enthusiasts," he added.
A win for Jamaica says Dubtonic
STEVEN JACKSON Observer writer email@example.com
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
The victory of Dubtonic Kru in the Global Battle of the Bands (GBOB) competition indicates that Jamaican music is globally competitive despite its controversy and lack of resources, stated stakeholders.
"Not only does it prove that we have the talent, but it says that we can compete outside of dancehall and reggae," stated local GBOB franchise holder, Seretse Small about the fusion of reggae and dub music which defines Dubtonic's psychedelic sound. "We now have proof on an international level. It says to me that there are other markets that we need to explore. We love Bob Marley but there is more to come."
Small, elated by the victory quipped that he could happily "lie down and pass away".
Dubtonic's victory puts the stoplight on the band. In contrast to Jamaica which celebrates the solo artistes at the expense of the musician.
"Jamaica ended up on top and that is where we belong because that is our culture," said Dubtonic drummer/singer Jubba. "We are humbled by the experience because there was a lot of great bands. But its a notch-up for Jamaican music, "he added on arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport from Malaysia on Monday afternoon.
The event held in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, over the weekend saw the local band beat 16 others to win a development deal valued at US$100,000, a world tour and the title Best New Band in the World.
The win, balanced the recent negative industry news of the bottling of deejays Bounty Killer and Vybz Kartel at a concert; and the guilty verdict in a US court for popular deejay Buju Banton on three charges including conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilogrammes of cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking offence and using the wires to facilitate a drug-trafficking offence.
Dubtonic said that they would go into the studio to record a follow-up album. They however noted that sponsorship was needed to support local bands engaged in similar ventures.
"A lot of times musicians and artistes don't get the time to showcase much. So we need more corporate support in a big way. We have the talent. I don't think there is a place that is as talented as Jamaica in terms of musicianship," stated Horace 'Kamau' Morgan Dubtonic percussionist/vocalist.
"The authorities should see what is happening on the live scene and get involved and get things together so we can take reggae music to the next level."
The full complement of the 15-year old band includes Jubba drummer/vocialist , Kamau vocalist/percussionist, bassist/vocalist Strickland Stone, guitarist/vocalist Omar 'Lanzo' Johnson, and keyboardist/vocalist Luke Dixon.
Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/entertainment/A-win-for-Jamaica-says-Dubtonic_8454700#ixzz1FdyJJihG
Dubtonic wins Global Battle of the Bands
Monday, February 28, 2011. Jamaica Observer.
DUBTONIC Kru, the Jamaican representative to the Global Battle of the Bands (GBOB) walked away with the top spot on Saturday.
The event, which was held in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, saw the local band pocket the grand prize of US$100,000 and the chance to go on a world tour and the title Best New Band in the World.
Local GBOB franchise holder, Seretse Small was still overjoyed when the Observer caught up with him yesterday. Small says he was at an event on Saturday when he got the news. "I wanted to cry, this is really above and beyond what I expected. I knew Dubtonic had a chance, but for it to materialise is really special and exciting, " Small gushed.
He believes this win for the local band makes a strong statement regarding the way forward for bands and live music in Jamaica. "I really hope younger bands and acts in general will now see the light, drawing on the experience of Dubtonic Kru, so they can ease off the hype and take time to write better music, rehearse more and just develop their craft, " he noted.
On another level, Small hopes this win in Malaysia will also be a watershed for sponsors and government to see the benefits of investing in music over the long term.
Dubtonic Kru beat nine other groups to win the local leg of (GBOB) in Kingston in February.
The judges included Ibo Cooper, an Edna Manley College lecturer and former member of Third World; Ray Hitchins, former head of the guitar department at the Edna College; Jon Baker, head of Geejam Records and Mickey Bennett, head of Grafton Studios and famed songwriter.
Dubtonic has toured the world with artistes including U-Roy, Richie Spice and Voicemail, but are not only a backing band. The members include bassist Stone, guitarist Jallanzo, keyboardist Luke, drummer Jubba and vocalist Kamau. The signature sound is heavy drum and bass above psychedelic guitars and keyboard dub-echoing into separate dimensions.
This year's staging of the local competition was the second staging of the event since 2005. It was delayed each year due to lack of funding.
This year, the event organiser in Malaysia offered to cover travel and accommodation expenses.
The band Live Wyya won the first staging five years ago but didn't win the ultimate contest overseas. Notwithstanding, they networked and played in countries including Japan. In fact, Live Wyya announced the release of their latest album Spread The Love, last month indicating continued growth. However, it was the band Rootz Underground (which placed third in 2005) that ultimately received the most exposure from the event in Jamaica and continue to tour extensively.
Global Battle of the Bands is the self described "world's biggest live talent competition for bands " started in 2004 with 16 countries participating which expanded to over 30 in 2010.
Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/entertainment/Dubtonic-wins-Global-Battle-of-the-Bands_8446297