On Saturday 8th February 2003 hundreds of reggae fans from all ages found their way to the annual Bob Marley Birthday Bashment at CC De Werft in Geel, Belgium. Before the announced live acts took the stage the audience was warmed up by "Ashanti 3000 meets Dread Pressure & Lion I", a Belgian roots sound system that attracted attention with their wicked selection of UK Steppers played in combination with the versions, which were nicely voiced by the bobo dread member of the sound. At the end of their set the Sound played an awesome dub version of Dennis Brown's "Promised Land" with Omar Perry - MC for the night - taking over the mic to do his thing across the riddim.


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Then it was time for the long awaited UK riddim twins Mafia and Fluxy and band members Stanley Andrews (rhythm guitar) and Carlton "Bubblers" Ogilvie (keyboards) to appear on stage. The band played two nice instrumentals dubbed up by Neil Fraser aka the Mad Professor (behind the mixing board) in order to get the right reggae sound - not an easy task as there was only a limited amount of speakers. Then, with some delay, Omar Perry called the first artist, Anthony Williams a.k.a. Chukki Starr, on stage.

Since he bursted on the UK reggae scene with his much anticipated and highly acclaimed debut album "Ghetto Youth's Livity" (Ariwa 1998), Chukki Starr has been regarded one of the most promising young Jamaican deejays based in London. However, just like some two years ago, when he performed on the main stage of Reggae Geel 2000, Chukki failed to deliver a fully satisfying performance. His set was nice and sometimes also really enjoyable, but somehow his live performances simply don't live up to expectations. First of all, after having seen him perform several times by now, he seemingly isn't able to grow as a live performer needed to take his live performances to a next level. Secondly he doesn't manage to bring forth the power and energy as well as the quality standard shown on his records when he delivers his ever conscious tunes in front of an audience. And although truly great songs such as "Praise The Creator", "Show Your Love", "Sweet Meditation" and "Forever Shall Praise" (over Bob Marley's "So Much Trouble" riddim) were well anticipated by the crowd, they once again were treated to only a glimpse of Chukki Starr's skills and talent.


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Next on stage came Earl 16 (real name Earl Daley), a true reggae veteran who made his entrance in music business in the first half of the seventies after winning some local talent shows. Unlike many Jamaican singers he's more of an album than a singles artists. He recorded his debut album "Singing Star" for producer Earl Morgan of the Heptones and furthermore came up with first-class albums for producers such as Lee Perry, Mikey Dread, Roy Cousins, Augustus Pablo, Linval Thompson, Coxsone Dodd and others. Since 1988 he has voiced for a growing number of UK producers, amongst them Gussie P and Mad Professor. Expertly backed by a tight playing Mafia & Fluxy band (whose members apparently enjoyed doing this show) Earl 16 brought a wicked selection of tunes, delivering all of them in fine style. His set included enjoyable songs such as "Dem A Raiders", "Groovy Situation" and "A Love That I Can Feel". However, the undisputed highlights were "Freedom Now", which got an awesome dubwise interpretation, and "Soldiers Of Jah Army", delivered 'inna militant style'. The whole week all over the world events were organized to honour the King Of Reggae, so it was obvious that artists involved in this "Bob Marley Birthday Bashment" were going to perform songs of Bob. And so did Earl 16, first with a version of "I'm Still Waiting" and then with "Coming In From The Cold". All in all Earl 16 delivered an entertaining, although too short performance.


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Third artist to step forward was the veteran deejay Dennis Alcapone. When the originator U Roy hit big with a series of hit singles on Duke Reid's "Treasure Isle" imprint, one Dennis Smith a.k.a. Dennis Alcapone wasn't far behind. Born 1947, Clarendon, Jamaica, Dennis Alcapone began deejaying on his El Paso Hi Fi Sound System in the late sixties and then became the first deejay to enjoy success on record after U Roy. At the beginning of the new decade his popularity rapidly increased, with a series of appealing cuts for Jamaica's leading producers (gathered on the crucial albums "Forever Version" for Coxsone Dodd and "My Voice Is Insured For Half A Million Dollars" for Duke Reid). In 1973 he moved to England and since the mid seventies his output became less prolific, but he took up performing again at the beginning of the nineties.
Dennis Alcapone took us back to the rocksteady era performing great revival hits such as "The Great Woggie" (version of The Uniques' "You Don't Care"), "It Must Come" (version of Delroy Wilson's "Better Must Come"), "Fever Teaser" (version of Horace Andy's Studio One classic "Fever"), "Riddle I This" (version of Derrick Harriott's "Solomon"), "Rock To The Beat" (version of Techniques' "Love Is Not A Gamble") and "Version I Can Feel" (version of John Holt's "Love I Can Feel"). Although Dennis had some problems with his throat it was really great to hear him perform these wonderful classic tunes. And not only him, also Mafia & Fluxy in their role as singers (reminiscent of their "Revival Hits" series) were shining bright.


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Then it was time for the eagerly awaited Mad Professor's Dub Show featuring Panafricanist and simle poet Jayzik. Mad Professor has firmly established his name in Belgium and thus has many fans as could be experienced when he and his musical partners did their thing in front of an enthousiastic reacting audience. A dignified closing of an enjoyable and successful event.

Article : Mr. T   Photos: Teacher



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