This originally ran in the St. Louis Post Dispatch in 1992.
All star lineup to play Riverport next Friday
The Reggae Sunsplash has been a major musical event
since the mid-70's. This coming August, over 70 of reggae's
biggest stars will perform during this year's six day
festival in Montego Bay, Jamaica. A mini-version of this
annual musical happening is now on the road in the States,
with six outstanding artists scheduled for a July 3rd show
at the Riverport Amphitheatre.
This will, without a doubt, be the reggae event of the
year, as John Holt, Papa San, SKOOL, Aswad, Lucky Dube, and
Barrington Levy will bring to St. Louis some of the best
that reggae music has to offer. Also on hand to entertain
the crowd is the seasoned "voice" of Sunsplash, master of
ceremonies, Tommy Cowan.
In a recent telephone interview discussing the tour
(over 50 cities across the U.S. and Canada in a two month
period), Barrington Levy explained, in his Jamaican accent,
that it began in Hawaii in late May. "The crowds have been
nice, mon. We've had good receptions and the people have
been very happy."
Levy went on to reveal that the concert will consist of
two sets, and that he will be "closing the first one.
SKOOL...these guys are real professionals. They've been
playing for over 15 years - maybe 20. They're wicked. John
Holt will open, then Papa San, then myself, with SKOOL
backing each of us. Then Lucky Dube will play with his band
and Aswad will finish the show."
During Levy's set, be ready to hear some of his
classics, as well as material from his latest release,
"Turning Point." And he says to look for Papa San to
"definitely join me on my songs where I've had some
DJ's. It'll be wicked, mon."
Although Levy - as well as each of the other
performers - are extremely popular in Jamaica, they're
obviously lesser known in America.
"I don't think I have a strong enough name yet to go on
my own," Levy disclosed. "What this tour is about for me is
to, like, show people that Barrington Levy is around, and
maybe after people see me, then I'll be able to headline on
That obviously holds true for the others, as each
deserves the recognition.
John Holt is the veteran of the bunch, since his days
as lead singer of the Paragons in the 60's. His songs have
been covered by such artists as Blondie ("The Tide is High")
and UB40 ("Wear You to the Ball"). This reggae legend has
had a staggering forty-one number one singles in Jamaica.
Papa San is an up-and-coming star, currently the #1 DJ,
or rapper, in Jamaica. This 24 year old has been around
since the mid-80's, and will definitely offer a fast-paced
set. He's an enigmatic performer, and will be supporting
his latest release, "Rough Cut."
Barrington Levy, as was mentioned, will close the first
set. He's currently at the peak of his career, and the power
and smoothness of his voice will surely score him legions of
new fans. His appearance alone is worth the price of
Lucky Dube is an African superstar who has been touted
as the "next" Bob Marley. This phenomenal performer
(complete with choreographed Zulu steps by his three female
vocalists) and his band, The Slaves, should totally
mesmerize the audience with their smooth, hypnotic reggae.
Last on this all star bill is Aswad, a British
reggae band who's been releasing quality material since
1976. In fact, their 1988 hit, "Don't Turn Around," has
recently been covered by Neil Diamond. This trio plays in a
variety of styles (dancehall, dub, roots), and should
definitely round out the evening with some powerful vibes.
It is no understatement to say that each of these
artists is talented enough to headline on their own. To have
them all together, playing four hours of almost non-stop
reggae, should make for quite a memorable evening.
This major reggae event will kick off the holiday
weekend at 7 p.m. sharp. Make sure you don't miss it, as
Reggae Sunsplash is sure to bring an authentic taste of
Jamaica to the Gateway City.
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